“The Good News We Need”
All Saints’ Day (Observed), November 4, 2018
Good News We Need
Text: Matthew 5:1–12
Today, we observe All Saints Day. All Saints’ Day can be a confusing experience in the church. The term “saint” has different meanings to different people. Sometimes people think a saint is someone who does a lot of charity work. Sometimes people think a saint is someone who has a jerk for a spouse and they put up with it. Sometimes people think a saint is a well-behaved child. And sometimes people think a saint is some famous person from church history who is now in heaven. This is not “Special Dead Christians Day” as some may think. Today is ALL Saints’ Day. So, what, who, is a saint? As Lutherans, we know that, in the most important sense, all people who are baptized and confess that Jesus is Lord are holy in God’s sight; all of us Christians are “saints.”
The Gospel reading for this service is always the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are…” Sometimes, there’s confusion about what it means to be “blessed.” Sometimes we think the rich, the famous are the ones who are blessed, who have billion dollar mansions and drive Bugatti Chirons. Sometimes we think that those who are good at sports are blessed. Sometimes we think those who’re so good looking are blessed.
Jesus offers us some amazing teaching today. To be sure, the Beatitudes, Mt 5:1–12, do not answer all of the questions that we might have about the saints, and eternity, and our place in it. But Jesus does have some very, very good news for us on All Saints’ Day, and for every day that we live as God’s saints, God’s people. It’s good news that many people will reject. But on this All Saints’ Day, Jesus gives us the Good News We Need to Hear.
What is that Good News? That Jesus died and rose for us. Never forget that you and I need to hear the Good News! We need to be in God’s Word. We talked about that last week, yes? It is the Bible that tells us that Jesus is God’s Son, He died and rose for us, He is our Savior, and His work won for us faith, forgiveness, and eternal life. There is confusion about that out there. People saying Jesus is a bunch of other things other than what it says in here. Jesus did not come to be our helper, or our life coach, or our cheerleader.
Jesus has come to be our King, to reign over the world and us, because we cannot and must not try to reign over ourselves or our world (Prophet, Priest, King). When we try to be little kings, we become tyrants. Have we not all known someone who was given a little power, a little authority, and then ran amuck with it? When we try to be little kings, we end up doing what the devil wants, getting all wrapped up with ourselves. One of Satan’s best tactics is to get people to worship themselves, to live for themselves, to think that nothing is more important than themselves. That is what we do when we are our own little kings. “Worship of the Self” comes way too easy to people these days and it comes too easy to us.
We need Jesus to be our king because we are unable to do it right. We need Jesus because we are not capable of running our lives in ways that do anything but defy the living God and earn for us His judgment. If we are in charge, if Jesus is not in here, all we are is selfish sinners. And that is not going to get us anywhere.
We need Jesus. When we look at the text today, how does Jesus want us to think of ourselves, in the most important ways, to prepare ourselves for His blessing? If you know the Sermon on the Mount, you know what Jesus said. On one level, this list of things is us:
1. Poor in spirit—we don’t have what we need by ourselves.
2. Mourning—because we have seen death and pain, most of us anyway.
3. Meek—that is, “powerless,” lowly.
4. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are longing for things to be right and unable to fix that.
Jesus reminds us in these famous words that inside, by our own nature, we don’t want Him. We don’t want His Word. This Good News is not something that we naturally want. We want to be capable, to be powerful, to be in control.
Jesus will have none of that. When it comes to salvation, when it is just you and me, we have nothing. Jesus knows it—and He will give you everything:
1. He healed the sick. He cast out demons. He forgave sin.
2. He took on the world’s evil, taking it into His own body to save you and me, dying on the cross.
3. He rose from the dead to defeat the devil and take the ultimate sting of death away already even now.
4. He will come again—and put all things right.
5. And now He gives you every blessing. Forgiveness. A new identity. The Holy Spirit to sustain you and keep you in the faith.
The thing that is often overlooked when it comes to the Beatitudes is that they are really about Jesus. Jesus is the one who, during His earthly mission, was mournful (Lazarus), meek, hungered for us to be righteous, merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker, and persecuted. Jesus did all this so that we can have those things. Yes?
And when we know this, we know God has put us here for a reason. A lot of people out there think there is no meaning to life. Why do you think there are more suicides and mass shootings and other bad things out there? People have no hope. People have no meaning in their lives.
Is that true for you? Do you have no purpose? I will give one to you! God put you here to receive His gifts of faith, forgiveness and eternal life and share those gifts with those who do not have them! God fills us with His STUFF, and then we can show people how it has changed us and share that stuff with them. His mercy comes and fills you, and, even though it’s hard and we have to practice, you can turn around and show mercy to others.
Here, in the place where we listen to the Good News that we all need to hear, we can find peace and share it with one another. Jesus by His rescuing death on the cross has made peace between you and God. Even when opposition comes, and Jesus and His ways are hated and rejected, still we are blessed because God’s gifts still belong to us.
There is another thing we remember today and observe today. We had the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. Do you mourn the loss of fellow Christians, people you love? On All Saints’ Day, on ANY day, remember that it is certainly right and holy and Christian to mourn in the face of death. Our mourning, however, is filled with hope—because of the promise of Jesus Christ’s return and the resurrection of the body. We will see again all those who have gone before us, those we knew and those who left before we got here.
Today we remember everybody, past and present, who believes in Jesus as Savior. We remember everyone who believes that Jesus died and rose again for us. That’s the Good News. On All Saints’ Day, every day, for you and for all the saints, this is the Good News we need to hear from Jesus.
In Jesus’ Name.
Adapted from Concordia Pulpit Helps, Vol. 28, Part 4.