Sermons by Pastor Walter Snyder plus announcements, articles, videos, and anything else that doesn’t fit Ask the Pastor or the Luther Library.

05 February 2017

Epiphany 5A Sermon: Excessive Righteousness

Preached on Matthew 5:13-20
The Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany
5 February AD 2017

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Excessive Righteousness.

Christ Crucified Summary: How do you enter the kingdom of heaven? All you need to do is be more righteous than the most righteous people walking the earth. That’s all. Just exceed the holy behavior of the holiest of humankind and you might get close.

Of course, this is impossible. All too often, we are flavorless salt and unlit lamps, vastly removed from the absolute righteousness of thought, word, and deed the Law demands.

Yet because Christ lived the life we couldn’t and died the death we deserve, the Father credits us with His Son’s righteousness. We possess the excessive righteousness of Jesus Himself. Our citizenship in the kingdom is secure because we are, by grace, the sinless sons of God.

Does this mean that we ignore Jesus’ words about righteousness? Are we exempt from being salt and light? Of course not! As God’s redeemed children, we desire to do His will, to glorify Him by our public testimony. And as still fallen creatures, we also need the Law’s demands to chasten, rebuke, and slay our sinful natures. So we are driven back to the Gospel, whence we again receive forgiveness and the freedom to live in faith toward God and fervent love toward one another

Text: [Jesus said,] “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:13-20

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Excessive Righteousness.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 112:1-9; Isaiah 58:3-9a; 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)

Illustration: Christ Crucified by Carne Griffiths

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