St. Matthew 7:15-23 – Trinity 8 – 2012
Zion Ev. Lutheran Church, McHenry, IL
July 28-29, 2012
In the name of Jesus. Amen. I was greeted by someone who knew about Zion from the past. He asked me if we were doing the same old Liturgy. You doing anything contemporary finally?
With a giant I smile, “No, we’re more traditional than ever!”
“Same old, same old… huh?” The implication is that we’d be dying like organized religion is declining in America.
“Not at all.. we’re busting at the seams.” And he was all confused. You see – this isn’t supposed to be happening!
“What’s the cause of that?” You see… there must be something special, something contemporary, for any growth in the world’s church’s. Gotta be using super fertilizer, grafting in some new styles and ideas from other churches, pruning off those grumpy branches…Some reason for fruit.
My response was simple, “Jesus.” You see… where there is a good tree, there is good fruit. You are the good fruit from a good tree. Good Jesus fruit from the tree of the Cross.
Forgiven fruit. Baptized fruit. Gospel-ed fruit. Body and blooded fruit. And you will live forever and ever and ever. Amen.
Our little congregation is part of a good tree. Zion’s branch. Lots of fruit – Jesus works. Jesus fruits.
And the fruit isn’t good works – but good works abound here. Love, lots of love. Charity. Kindness. Joy. Happiness. Service – from Jesus to you and from you to those around you.
The fruit is the Gospel – the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for you. Christ raised from the dead for our forgiveness before the Father.
The Gospel changes lives. That lights up worlds. It comforts us. Enlivens us out of our sins, out of our darkness, to a life free from guilt, shame, and uncertainty.
God Himself has taken on our flesh and kept the Law completely for you. He then suffered and died for our evil. The just for the unjust. The good for the evil. For you, for me, for all.
We died with Him in Holy Baptism. He rose. We live in Him. He ascended to the right hand of God. He is there now – raising our human nature to the very right hand of all majesty and power.
This is the message of forgiveness in our ears, in the ears of our parents, and children. It’s the good fruit that saves long after all other fruit has spoiled and decayed.
See… bad trees grow bad fruit. Uncertain fruit. Are you good enough fruit? Holy enough? What have you done to make your fruit grow? Fruit that depends upon you – how much you repent, feel, know, do.
The uncertainty of “have you decided, given your heart, changed, accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, made Him the Lord of your life? Are you positive enough? Is your life successful enough? Your church big enough? Have you really really repented?”
Outwardly the preaching sounds sheepy, but it’s baaaaaah-d. Inwardly it devours you with uncertainty, doubt, and despair. You can’t, never enough, not sure. Is heaven yours? Can’t know.
Such fruit did in Adam and Eve. It would do us in too.
And with churches – what must we do, change, improve to spur some growth. Get a better, more lively preacher, or something..
That’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing! The false teacher who directs you back to you, inside yourself, to see if you are positive enough, believe enough, enough you, to save yourself. to forgive yourself, to go to heaven.
Jesus says to you today, “Beware of false preachers. Watch out for them. You’ll know them by their fruits.”
“A good tree, a good preacher, bears good fruit. A bad tree, a bad preacher, bears bad fruit. A good tree can’t grow bad fruit and a bad tree can’t grow good fruit.”
Don’t look inside yourselves to see what kind what fruit you are. Listen outside you, to the word, to the forgiveness of sins achieved by Jesus on the Cross and delivered to you in His gifts.
His gifts grow good fruit. His gifts enliven you, justify you, forgive you before God and each other.
Not every preacher is the same, dear friends. Beware. A good preacher is found not in how charismatic they are. Or how much things grow or don’t grow.
You want a good tree? The Cross! That’s the good tree! The Cross grows good fruit. Where you hear Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of your sins alone, where everything starts and ends with Jesus for you, there is Church.
Where that tree is not happening, you should run for there is a wolf wolf wolf coming. And you and I will be devoured..
In the Cross, in the Good Tree of the Cross, You are the good fruit. Living fruit. Bright fruit. Alive not for yourselves, but for others. Raised to life, baptizing the world around you with Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
And being from the Cross Tree doesn’t mean that it’ll always be smiles and fun in your life. You may have some suffering – in our lives, in our families, in our church. There will be sickness, bad check-ups, tired, weary hearts, and hill so steep that we don’t think we can go on another day.
In you, in His cross, there is only good fruit. Forgiveness fruit, life fruit, resurrection fruit. Good Jesus fruit. Forgiven fruit. Baptized fruit. Gospel-ed fruit. Body and blooded fruit.
And eternal life, eternal comfort, no more trouble consciences. It’s all yours. Here right now. In the same ancient to the world yawny Liturgy.
But, right now, in this place, today, this morning, the Gospel is proclaimed. And now.. right now.. in His Cross, in His resurrection, we have fruit that will endure to all eternity.
Your sins are forgiven and you will live forever and ever. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.