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One Thing Is Necessary

Luke 10:38-42

Rev. Kurt Hering

Pentecost 9, Proper 11, series C
Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton  
Kansas


right-click to download MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Jul 17, 2016 

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

Like Martha, you and I are “are anxious and troubled about many things,” including what look to us like the shortfalls of those around us—friend or foe, relative or stranger. You and I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, thinking everything depends upon us and what we are doing and is being threatened or sabotaged by what others are not doing or doing wrong and poorly. . . .

In all our anxiety and trouble we, like Martha, have times where we get frustrated, fed up, and tuckered out and wonder why God has laid this on us and why others aren’t doing more to pull their share of the load.

To all of this [the Lord answers us], “[Christian, Christian], you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.

To hear the entire sermon as it was preached to the saints at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, "One Thing Is Necessary," click on the audio link provided above. The sermon begins at 12:25.

Artwork: "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary," Joachim Beuckelaer (1565).

For those of you who prefer to read or read along while listening, the preaching manuscript the preaching manuscript follows below. .

Nota Bene: Sermons are meant to be heard. Bullet points in the manuscript are explained and filled out during the preaching, so you will need to listen to the audio file to get the full message.

TEXT: Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38–42

Dear people of Faith in Christ Jesus our Savior & Lord,

Like Martha, you and I are “are anxious and troubled about many things,” including what look to us like the shortfalls of those around us—friend or foe, relative or stranger.

You and I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, thinking everything depends upon us and what we are doing and is being threatened or sabotaged by what others are not doing or doing wrong and poorly.

• We are anxious and troubled for our country and the states and municipalities in which we live and pay taxes and are trying to raise our families and who we are going to elect to lead us out of the mess we’re in and protect us from the enemies who threaten us in our neighborhoods and as a nation.

• We are anxious and troubled about our next meal, our next mortgage and car payment, our next utility bill, our next unexpected repair or medical expense for breakdowns.

• We are anxious and troubled about providing and caring for our children and grandchildren, or parents and grandparents, or simply ourselves whether for daily bread or future events including and especially retirement.

• We are anxious and troubled over having enough time and money left for fun, and relaxation and our next big vacation.

• We are anxious and troubled about the survival of our church and the salvation of our loved ones.

In all our anxiety and trouble we, like Martha, have times where we get frustrated, fed up, and tuckered out and wonder why God has laid this on us and why others aren’t doing more to pull their share of the load.

To all of this [the Lord answers us], “[Christian, Christian], you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. The good portion, [the time you spend with Me, Jesus, in my Word and Church] will not be taken away from you.”

While we, like Martha, are anxious and troubled and distracted and busy pursuing many things, there really is only one thing necessary. His name is Jesus. 

The first and chief article of faith upon which our life both now and forever depends is this:

• Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins and was raised again for our justification (Romans 4:25).

• He alone is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), John 1:29; and God has laid upon Him the iniquities of us all (Isaiah 53:6).

• All have sinned and are justified freely, without their own works or merits, by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood (Romans 3:23-25).

• This is necessary to believe. This cannot be otherwise acquired or grasped by any work, law, or merit. Therefore, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us. As St. Paul says, “That He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26)

Upon this article everything that we teach and practice depends, in opposition to the . . . , the devil, [Islam], and the whole world. Therefore, we must be certain and not doubt this doctrine. Otherwise, all is lost, and . . . the devil, [Islam], and all adversaries win the victory and the right over us. [SMALCALD PART II ARTICLE I. THE CHIEF ARTICLE]

 Now the true meaning of Christianity is this: that a man first acknowledge, through the Law, that he is a sinner, for whom it is impossible to perform any good work. . . . "For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). Trying to merit grace by receding works, therefore, is trying to placate God with sins, which is nothing but heaping sins upon sins, making fun of God, and provoking His wrath. . . . Thus the first step in Christianity is the preaching of repentance and the knowledge of oneself.

 The second step is this: If you want to be saved, your salvation does not come by works, but God has sent His only Son into the world that we might live through Him. He was crucified and died for you and bore your sins in His own body (1 Peter 2:24). . . . He wants to give us forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and eternal life for the sake of Christ. For God is He who dispenses His gifts freely to all, and this [grace rather than your works] is the praise of His deity. [Martin Luther]

None of this is to say that we have nothing else to do. We certainly have obligations to our neighbor—especially to those closes to us: spouse, children, parents, friends, co-workers, church members. We dare not turn a blind eye to their needs or walk past them in distress—even our way to church.

But it is to say, without the one thing necessary—who is Jesus the Christ, crucified and risen for us for the forgiveness of our sins—none of our service, no matter how urgent and profound will mean anything or do any good and last any longer than the energy we have spent to do it. And with the one thing necessary, who is Jesus, we will be given everything else we need to do what needs to be done. For He is the Word by which God gives us all things—who created all this < > not even out of thin air, but out of nothing. He is the Word by which a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish are made enough to feed thousands, He is the Word by which you were formed in your mother’s womb, and He is the Word by which every font is filled with living water and every altar with the living bread of His body throughout the ages and even unto the ends of the earth.

Yes dear people of faith, dear people of Christ, like Martha, you and I are “are anxious and troubled about many things,” including what we think everybody else around is doing and how and why and for how long they should be doing it. But here is what we learn from Jesus tender and loving words to Martha today. We know not the hour of our Lord’s return for the final judgment and the resurrection of all flesh. But when He comes:

• if you are sitting here in a worship service--whether that’s during the Divine Service on Sunday morning or whenever it may be offered for other holy days marking important days for us in the life of our Lord or the life of His church and our congregation of it;

• if you are sitting at home around the table praying or having devotions with your family;

• if you are sitting on, kneeling at, our even lying in bed in prayer or reading/listening to God’s Word;

• if you take a moment to fold your hands and bow your head in prayer at your desk in the office or at school, out on the combine or in your rig in the field, or pulled over on the side of the road during a business or vacation trip;

• if you are singing a hymn, reciting the catechism, or reading the Bible--either alone for the strengthening of your own faith to get you through the day and these turbulent times, or with others to confess the faith so that they might also believe and be saved;

I guarantee you, without doubt, hesitation, or apology you will not be disappointed or wish you were somewhere else doing other things. And you will not be scolded by our Lord. For if you are, and you believe the Word you are hearing, meditating on, praying, singing, or confessing—the Word of Christ and Him crucified for you—you will find yourself at the feet of Jesus with Mary and Martha and the healed demoniac; and all the prophets and apostles and church fathers of old; and all the angels of our Lord; and all your friends and loved ones who have departed in the faith confessing and passing it along to you rejoicing in the forgiveness of sins, salvation, and eternal life that is yours --in the name of the Father ,and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.



Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.



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