Pastor James Hopkins preached this sermon on the twenty-first Sunday after Trinity 10/24/2021. The service was broadcast live on Facebook at 11:00am, and is now available on the FLC youtube channel. To follow along from home, the bulletin is available as a PDF: Trinity21 Bulletin
The texts for the sermon were the day’s gospel and Old Testament lessons. To read the Bible texts for the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity, click here.
Between our reading of the creation account in Genesis, and the report of Jesus healing an official’s son in John chapter 4, we have at least four miracles. Two in the Old Testament text, and two in the Gospel.
All in all, that’s not very interesting. What is curious, though, is the way these miracles correspond to one another.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He made sun and moon and stars and sea, and trees and plants, then Adam, then Eve. It was a miracle. That’s what you call it when God makes everything out of nothing.
Hand in hand with his beloved, Adam beheld a world of miracles. He knew God had made it. And he knew that made it special, true, and beautiful. But he didn’t know everything.
Adam didn’t exactly know why.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
When Adam closed his eyes on the very first Friday night in creation, he knew what this beautiful, miraculous world was for. It was for him.
You could summarize that paragraph of God blessing Adam and Eve this way:
All of this is for you and your family.
Take care of it.
It’s yours because I said so.
And it was very good.
It is one thing to believe that something miraculous happened, like creation. It is quite another thing to believe and to know that it happened for you. That’s the first two miracles: 1) God makes everything, and then 2) Adam believes that God made everything for him.
Fast forward to John 4, and Jesus’ second visit to Cana in Galilee. The Official who comes to Jesus knows that Jesus can heal his son. That’s not a miracle. That’s an observation.
The first miracle in this account happens the same way the first miracle in Genesis happened: God spoke. Jesus said, “Go; your son will live.”
Jesus already has a proven track-record with miracles. What He can do is not in question. That’s why the man does not question him. He’s grateful for what Jesus said and did.
Like Adam, he believes that it happened even though he didn’t see it happen. But then, a bigger miracle took place.
The man’s servants met him and told him that his baby boy was recovering. The report of what happened, and when it happened, synced up with Jesus’ word to him. In that moment, the man knew not only what happened; he understood that it happened for him, and his wife, and his son, and all his household, and they all believed. They all believed that what Jesus did, He did for them.
You’re all bright people. And I know that you know. That Christianity’s great strength in the world of religion, is that it is historically falsifiable. That is to say, the claims of Christianity are not only subject to historical investigation, they depend on the fact that these things really did occur. This is what St. Paul writes to the Church in Corinth (15:14):
[I]f Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. Corinthians 15:14
It is one thing to say that Jesus is the Son of God, the Word made Flesh. It is one thing to say that Jesus perfectly kept the Law. It is one thing to say that Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried; that He rose again on the third day, and 40 days later ascended into heaven.
These things are miracles and mysteries. The demons know them as facts, as history, as truth; and you ought to know at least as much as they do. But it is given to you to know more.
You stand shoulder to shoulder with Adam and Eve; with the Official and his household, with prophets and martyrs, and with all the holy Church, when you know also that Jesus has done these things for you.
Creation: For you.
Redemption: For you. Sanctification: For you.
When Jesus closed His eyes on the last Friday night of the old creation, He knew why. He did it for you.
There are lots of folks who can help you understand that God made the world in six days. Habermas, Francisco, Montgomery…these guys can convince you the resurrection happened. But only the Holy Spirit will open your eyes and ears and heart to know that all this is for you.
The life that the first Adam lost, the second Adam has gained. He won it for you, and also gave it to you. In Holy Baptism He plunged you into His death and resurrection. That wasn’t a cute ceremony for your relatives. That was for you.
In your life you are constantly beset by sin, death, and the devil. That whole armor of God, of which Paul writes, it doesn’t do any good on a shelf. It’s for you, and it is for you to use.
Finally, this Great Feast; this Holy Supper of our Lord’s Body and Blood; this is what was given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of your sins. Those two words: “for you,” require all hearts to believe. And so, you do.
We could keep going, but that’s a great pair of miracles to end on.