Sermon – Epiphany 4 – "Preach To Us" – Luke 4:31-44

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It’s all just “talk, talk, talk.” How many times have you heard that? How many times have you thought or said that? “He’s all talk, no action.” “He says one thing but does something else.” How often have you come to the same conclusion? Somehow, we expect that what a person says and what he does should be consistent with each other. When parents tell their children, ‘do what I say not what I do,” children are not impressed, and rightly so.

It’s this hypocritical inconsistency between what we say and what we do that has given ‘talking’ a bad name. And that sometimes carries over to the particular kind of talking that is called “preaching.” “Don’t preach to me.” How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said that? No one likes being “preached to.” Which presents a certain challenge for those who have the vocation of “preacher.”

“Preachers” are called to speak God’s Word. Preachers who speak what is not God’s Word are called “false preachers.” It’s just “talk, talk, talk.”

Jeremiah was born to be a preacher. No, actually Jeremiah was conceived to be a preacher. Long before Jeremiah could talk, he was consecrated by the Lord to be a talker. Not just a “talk, talk, talker,” but a ‘preacher.’

Jeremiah didn’t think he was old enough to be a preacher. “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, reasoned like a child.”

Maybe he felt he still needed to build his vocabulary or improve his self-confidence or the style of his delivery, all those things that we think make a man able to preach. He was afraid. Afraid that he would screw up, afraid that people would reject him, afraid that he might even be persecuted for preaching. Because nobody likes to be preached to.

But the Lord said, “Do not say that I am only a youth; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.” And Jeremiah did not take this as just “talk, talk, talk.”

“Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

That’s a lot to expect from preaching isn’t it? To paraphrase Luther’s explanation of Holy Baptism, ‘How can words do such great things?’ ‘Not just the words, but the authority and power of God that is in the words does these things.’

You and I are fond of saying things like, “I’M A MAN OF MY WORD,” as if that was supposed to mean something. But that only carries as much weight as the man behind the word and the man is a fallen, sinful, weak, just a child. But to say, “I’M A MAN OF GOD’S WORD,” well, that’s saying something different.

So as long as Jeremiah spoke God’s Word, he was preaching. When Jeremiah and all of the other prophets said, “thus says the Lord,” everyone should come to attention and listen up, because this was not just “talk, talk, talk.” This was God Himself who was preaching through a man, ‘to pluck up and break down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant,’ and all by the power and authority of the Word.

Jesus was a preacher. A prophet like Jeremiah, yes, but He says, ‘more than a prophet.’ When Jesus preached, He spoke God’s Word. But unlike Jeremiah and all of the other prophets, the Word He preached was not given to Him by the Lord, He is the Lord, He is the Word.

And He has been preaching the Word from the beginning of the world. “And God said, let there be light.. And it was so.” How’s that for preaching? How’s that for “all talk and all action?” Nothing happened apart from the Word preached. But look what happens when it is. A new creation.

Jesus is truly THE man of His word. He is the Word made man. There is no disconnect between what He says and what He does. When Jesus preaches a sermon He is really preaching Himself. To “receive Him,” is to receive His Word with all of its authority to ‘destroy and overthrow’ and to ‘build and plant.’ To reject His Word is to reject Him.

According to St. Luke, the first place that Jesus goes to preach is His hometown of Nazareth. He preached in the Synagogue and the people rejected His preaching which is to reject Jesus Himself. They tried to throw Him over a cliff. But He walked safely through the midst of them like Israel walking safely through the midst of the sea.

From Nazareth He went to Capernaum, also in the region of Galilee. On the Sabbath, He went in to the Synagogue and preached. At first, they were all “astonished… for his word possessed authority.” They were shocked, confused, upset, because unlike all of the other preachers who would begin by saying, “the Lord spoke to me,” or “thus says the Lord,” Jesus said, “truly, truly, I say to you.”

There was a man in the congregation who had “the spirit of an unclean demon.” You may be amazed that a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon was in church, but don’t be, it happens a lot really. The demon immediately connected the Word Jesus was preaching to the Person of Christ. “I know who you are, the holy one of God.”

“Have you come to destroy us?” “Have you come to “pluck up and tear down” everything that we demons have “built and planted?”

“Jesus REBUKED him saying, ‘Be silent and come out of him!” When Jesus ‘rebukes’ He is “plucking up and breaking down, destroying and overthrowing” the kingdom of Satan and his word that brings darkness and sin and death into the world and into men and women and boys and girls.

Notice the first thing that Jesus does. He takes away the demon’s speech. He knows how powerful words can be, even words that our pure lies. Words like, “you will not surely die.”

“Be silent!” That’s what the first Adam should have said to the serpent when it “PREACHED” to his wife. “Phimao.” Literally, ‘put a muzzle on it.’ Like you do to a dog so that it can’t bark. When Jesus was in the boat with his disciples and the wind had stirred up the sea to the point that it was about to sink them all, Jesus said, ‘Phimao.’ And the immediately, the wind was silent and the sea was calm.

“Come out of him!” “Exelthe”. The official word for exorcism. Just as He had done in the beginning, the preacher was preaching light into the darkness and separating the two, the darkness unto hell and the light unto life. “And it was so.”

And now, they’re AMAZED. That’s a different word than “ASTONISHED.” “Thambos.” It’s ‘amazement’ turbocharged with ‘fear.’ ‘Fear’ as in ‘fear of the Lord.’ As in ‘the beginning of wisdom.’ As in, this is not the same ‘talk, talk, talk’ that we’re used to hearing.

And they began to speak to one another. “What is this WORD? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits and they come out!” His Word does just what it says. He is all talk and all action.

From the Synagogue, Jesus makes a house call on Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. She wasn’t at church because she was sick in bed with a fever. Not just a ‘fever,’ but a ‘high fever.’ A lot of folks in the Northeast this winter know what that’s all about.

“Jesus stood over her and REBUKED the fever.” He spoke to the fever in the same way that He spoke to the demon. It’s all cut from the same filthy rags. He doesn’t rebuke her, ‘you should have gotten a flu shot and taken better care of yourself. That’s the preaching that we hate to hear. He just rebukes the fever and it left her. And not just gradually or after a few days. “Immediately she rose and began to serve them.”

He preaches not only to “destroy and to overthrow,” but “to build and to plant.”

And the word got out that a real preacher was in town. One with real authority. Whose Word does what it says. They waited for the sun to set because that was the end of the Sabbath and they were allowed to come to Him, who is the true Sabbath.

“Those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.”

“EVERY ONE OF THEM.” Those are beautiful words to hang onto because Not one was missed or overlooked or refused. Not one went away disappointed. Not one was not healed. Every one of them, including you.

“And demons also came out of many.” They didn’t like it and resisted and put up a fuss, but His Word was final because it had power and authority.

In Nazareth, the congregation said, ‘don’t preach to us,’ and tried to throw Him off a cliff. In Capernaum, they begged Him to stay. But He knows His mission and His mission is to preach. ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

The “GOOD NEWS” is the gospel. The “Good News” that, by the authority and power of His Word, Jesus has “plucked up and torn down” Satan and His kingdom that is built on lies and deceit and nothing but ‘talk, talk, talk.’ The “Good News” is that, by the preaching of His Word, He has REBUKED the demons and the fevers and the diseases and even death itself. By the preaching of the Gospel, He exposes the false preachers for the “noisy gongs and clanging cymbals” that they are. No greater REBUKE was ever heard in hell, no greater Good News has ever been heard in heaven, than that Word Jesus preached from the cross – “It is finished.”

The false word that deceived you has been cast out. And the true Word that saves you has fallen into our ears. And by the authority and power that the true Word has to create faith in the heart, even a heart like ours, we have received it, and we are AMAZED.

AMAZED that He has rebuked our sin and cast it out from us, particularly those sins of speech that we are all guilty of. Those words we used so carelessly and hurtfully towards others. Loveless words, deceitful words, spoken with no intent of doing what we say.

AMAZED that He has preached His Holy Spirit into us and made all things new and set us free and brought us peace and even changed the way we speak to one another.

He preaches to “EVERY ONE OF US,” “It is finished.” Already accomplished, but not yet fully realized. “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away…” “For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now, I know in part, then I shall know even as I am fully known.”

Until then, “we do not despise preaching and His Word, but we hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” Until then, you will never us say, “don’t preach to me.” Our faith depends for its survival on the Word of Jesus. And so we say, ‘Preach to us Lord! Please preach to us! And don’t stop preaching to us until we see you face to face and know even as we are fully known.

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