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Broken and/or Crushed

Luke 20:9-20

Pastor Jason Zirbel

Lent 5, series C
Grace Lutheran Church  
Greenwood, AR

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Sun, Apr 3, 2022 

The grace, mercy, and peace of Christ Jesus rest upon each and every one of you this day.

Jesus says quite clearly that “everyone who falls on the stone will be dashed to pieces, but everyone on whom the stone falls will be crushed.” We know that the stone/rock is obviously referring to Jesus.  That’s easy, but what are we to make of the all-inclusive language of “everyone?” EVERONE who falls on the stone will be dashed to pieces, but EVERYONE on whom the stone falls will be crushed.  Does “everyone” include us too?  It makes sense to think of unbelievers being either dashed to pieces or crushed, particularly those who outright rebel against Jesus and reject Him… but we’re believers!  We build our houses on the cornerstone of salvation; the solid rock that is Christ.  ‘Everyone’ obviously can’t mean ‘everyone.’ It must mean ‘everyone else,’ i.e., all those who are not faithful Christians.  That’s obviously not us.

Well… that’s where you’re wrong.  Jesus specifically uses the word pipto, which means “to fall upon,” and He uses it in both scenarios.  Either a person falls upon/piptos upon the rock and is dashed/shattered/broken into pieces/shards, or the rock falls upon/piptos upon the person and crushes/pulverizes them; turns them to dust/powder.  Again, consider what Jesus is saying here.  Everyone, in one way or another, will encounter Christ, the cornerstone Rock of our salvation.  The only difference is whether they fall on Him and are broken into a million pieces, or He falls on them and crushes them.

That brings up a good point.  Do you notice the future aspect here in Christ’s words?  Not everyone is immediately broken into pieces when they encounter Christ and His Word and His Will nowadays, are they?  Some people flat out reject Him.  Some people refuse to let God’s Word break them down.  They refuse to let God’s Word conform them to His Will, preferring instead to arrogantly and proudly form and fit God to their own wants, their own desires, and their personal and self-serving opinions on how things should be.  However, just because God’s Word hasn’t broken them yet or crushed them yet doesn’t mean that it won’t at sometime in the future.  Are you getting an end-time, Judgment Day feel here?  Everyone, at one time or another, WILL encounter the truth of Christ, the cornerstone Rock of our salvation.  They will either be broken upon the Rock or crushed under the Rock.

That leads to a good question: Is it really God’s Will that everyone is broken and crushed?  Well…that’s a two-part question.  God does not desire that everyone be crushed.  He has no desire to crush everyone (or anyone, for that matter) under the Rock that is the Lord Christ.  You see, that word for crushed—likmao—is used elsewhere by Jesus to speak of the winnowed sinful chaff that is separated from the good wheat.  The sinful chaff—the crushed dusty remnant separated from the good wheat on the threshing floor—is winnowed right into the fire.  Remember: God desires that all men—EVERYONE—be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth—His truth.  It is not His will that only some be saved while some to go to hell.  God does not desire to crush anyone under the Rock.  However…it is precisely God’s Will that everyone fall upon Him and be broken into a million pieces.  There is a difference—a huge difference. 

It’s kind of like Humpty Dumpty, who had a great fall, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put him back to together again.  It is God’s good and gracious that His Word dashes your sinful nature into a million irreparable pieces, and that neither you nor anyone else nor anything else can put you back together again; that is, anyone but Him.  It’s kind of like how boot camp works.  The drill instructors’ whole purpose is to break you down and shatter the undisciplined individual.  Their job is to break you down so that they can build up a new creation; an entirely new man/woman.  When you come out of boot camp, you’re not the person you were 13 weeks earlier, and that’s good.  That’s the whole point. 

That’s what God’s Word of Law and Gospel does, and it does it in that exact order—all the time.  This is His good and loving will.  The Law comes in and pushes us off our proud, arrogant, sinful perches.  God’s Law meets us and cracks us right open, exposing our sin for what it really is.  As both St. Paul and King David say: “No one is righteous; not even one single person.” When we fall upon God’s Word of righteous judgment and Law, it breaks us and dashes us into a million shards and pieces that no one can put back together again.  That’s the whole point.  Why?  You know as well as I do that we often justify our sinful words and deeds, don’t we?  We can always excuse and explain away the sinful things that we say, think, and do, passing these sins off as something “less than sin.” It’s different in our case, right?  But God’s Word cuts through all that foolishness.  His Word of the Law confronts and kills.  It has to.  You can’t understand or appreciate the cure if you don’t first understand, not just how sinfully sick you already are, but how deadly your sin really is and how dead you really are in your sin. 

But…God doesn’t leave us there, broken and dead and miserable, without hope.  Through His life-giving Gospel—both in Word and Sacrament—God resurrects us; that is, He puts us back together anew—not again—but anew, exactly the way He wants.  He gives us new and renewed life in Christ.  And make no mistakes: In this new and sanctified life, we’re not supposed to simply climb right back up on our sinful wall.  We’re not to go right back to acting like sinful, self-righteous Humpty Dumptys who justly deserve temporal and eternal punishment.  The life that is lived in the joy of our justification—the sanctified life in Christ—is a life that now desires to do God’s will—not in order to be saved, but in joyous and thankful response to the fact that we are saved—by Christ alone.

My friends: Are you hearing that Lenten theme of repentance peeking through here?  In reality, before God’s eyes, everyone—every single man, woman, and child born of Adam—is broken into a million pieces.  This sinful creation, starting in the mirror and extending to all creation, is NOT what God intended!  It’s all fallen and broken.  As children of Adam, we are all—EVERYONE—by nature, fallen and broken and dead in our sin.  We may not see it that way through our fallen and sinful eyes, but that’s exactly how God sees it.  We’ve all been dashed upon the Rock of His perfect Righteousness.  Outside of Christ, there is NOTHING that can repair the shattered pieces of our fallen sinful life.  However, in true, faithful repentance, we, as baptized children of promise, call out to God from our brokenness, asking Him to be merciful to us because of Christ Jesus.  The joy; the beauty in all this is that God does exactly that…and more.  Not only does He show us mercy and forgiveness in our broken sinfulness, but He graciously put us back together anew—in Christ—making us truly alive and declaring us to be His precious treasure; treasure so precious that He was willing to ransom His own Son’s life in exchange.  He was crushed for our iniquities.  He was winnowed so that we wouldn’t have to be. 

This, my friends, is your reality right now.  By virtue of your baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, you are a new creation—right now.  The best is still yet to come, that’s true, but do not ever forget the baptismal fact that by God’s grace you are His beloved child and new creation right now.  So what does that mean?  I’m reminded of a line from the Small Catechism.  “What does such baptizing with water indicate?  It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and all evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” You, my baptized believer, are a new creation in Christ, and because of Christ, and you know what your Lord says, both Law and Gospel.  By daily examining ourselves through the cruciform lens that is God’s righteous wrath against sin and His unconditional love for the sinner, we are broken down—not crushed and forsaken, but broken down—all so that God can graciously resurrect us anew in Christ.  This new creation doesn’t have to be threatened with the fiery terrors of being crushed and winnowed unless they act like faithful and obedient children of God.  Nope.  The new creation knows the mercy and grace of God that redeemed them from the death sentence they justly deserve.  The new creation knows and holds fast in repentant thanksgiving to the all-redeeming sacrifice of Christ that they’ve been baptized into.  Because of this, the new creation desires to arise and live every moment—in thought, word, and deed—in repentant joy and thanksgiving to the glory of God.  Look at this cross.  Look at this font.  Look at this altar.  Look into heaven and consider all that the Lord has already prepared for you.  How can you possibly say thank you for all this?  Simple.  You be the new creation God has made you to be, now and into all eternity. 

In His most precious and life-giving name… AMEN

Feel free to use any or all of this sermon for the edification of God's people. It is NOT necessary to ask my permission for any of it! In fact, you don't have to mention me at all. (I think it's highly problematic when pastors seek credit/glory for sermons inspired by the Holy Spirit!) Give praise to God for the fact that He continues to provide for His people.

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