6th Sunday after Pentecost July 17, 2022
1 Kings 17:1-16
466, 473:1-2,4-5, 439, 464
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Editor’s Note: Sermon Video 📺 www.tinyurl.com/CLC-MxM-20220717
+ In the Name of Jesus Christ +
Prayer of the Day: Almighty God, You have built Your Church on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. Continue to send Your messengers to preserve Your people in true peace that, by the preaching of Your Word, Your Church may be kept free from all harm and danger; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Dear fellow cross-bearers, fellow redeemed through the cross of Christ,
I have never been involved in a large-scale building project before, but I have watched enough home-improvement shows on television to know how important “load-bearing walls” are to a structure. Load-bearing walls are those walls which are vital to keeping a structure standing. For instance, in whatever building you are in right now, how safe would you feel if we were to remove one of the exterior walls? For a building to be structurally sound and secure, load-bearing walls are essential. They basically hold the entire building up.
Scripture pictures the Holy Christian Church as being like a building. The Apostle Paul writes to the Christians in Ephesus, that the Church has “been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:20-22)
When God brought you to faith in Jesus as your Savior from sin, He made you a member of His Church. He joined you together with other Christ-believers and built you into His holy building project. As such, each one of you is important and essential to the structural integrity of the church as a whole. In our text for this morning, the Apostle Paul, reminds us that each one of us is a “Load-Bearing Christian.” Knowing that Christ bore the great load of our sin, we are then called upon to bear our own load as we follow Him, and also help our fellow Christ-believers bear their loads. Our text is Galatians, chapter 6, verses one through ten:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (ESV)
This is the Word of God.
What is the greatest load you have ever had to carry? I heard this week that as a four or five year old in school, Chelsea Ludvigson had to carry gallon milk jugs of sand to help drain some of her energy. Expectant mothers carry the weight of a child in their body for 9 months. Postal workers who deliver mail on foot often carry a satchel with 35 lbs. of mail. Soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan frequently had to carry gear weighing 60 to 100 lbs.
Consider then, the weight of guilt that we carry because of our sin. Guilt weighs us down knowing we did what we shouldn’t have done and failed to do what we should have done. This burden of guilt affects us mentally, emotionally, and even physically.
Now multiply that burden billions of times over as Jesus bore the sin of the entire world—of every last man, woman, and child that had ever lived or who would ever live. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows…And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Is 53:4a,6b) When Jesus made His way to Calvary, He was not only carrying a heavy wooden cross, He was carrying the burden of our sin. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, it was not only the weight of His body which hung on that cross, but the weight of the sin of the world.
Jesus bore this eternally heavy burden so that it could die and be buried with Him. All of our sins were completely atoned for by His death. We have been rescued from hell. Jesus has removed our guilt forever. “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Ps 103:12) Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on the third day was God’s announcement that the payment is complete. The great burden of your sin has been removed forever by Jesus’ death.
Praise God that the heavy load of sin is away and done with! We are free indeed, as we were reminded last week. While Jesus removed the load of our sin, that does not mean that following Christ is easy. We still live in a world that is hostile to God and His Word. As we follow Christ and seek to be faithful to His Word, we should expect that the world will make this difficult for us. Furthermore, each of us carries within us a sinful nature that itself is hostile and opposed to the things of God. Our sinful nature and our sinful desires make it difficult to follow Jesus and be faithful to Him. There is yet a load that we must bear as we follow Christ.
Jesus says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Lk 9:23) There is a cross in following Jesus. It is not a cross to remove our sins, Jesus already did that. It is a cross, a burden, of living for Him instead of living for ourselves. It is the cross of saying “NO” to the temptations that the world bombards us with. It means crucifying our sinful self every day and denying our flesh to have its way and do as it pleases. It may also mean the cross of persecution as friends, loved-ones, and coworkers mock us for seeking to be faithful to Jesus.
This is the burden of discipleship; this is the cross that comes with following Jesus. Paul writes in verse 5 of our text, “For each will have to bear his own load.” This burden, this load of being faithful to Jesus in this hostile world is light and momentary compared with the eternal glories and riches which Christ has laid up for us through His death and resurrection. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,” Jesus says, “for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mt 11:29-30) Christ calls on each of us to bear our own load in His Church as we follow Him.
Look around you this morning at the people present here in the Lord’s house—seriously, look around. You are all load-bearing walls in the holy temple that is Christ’s Church. Each one of you is an important part of His holy temple. You all help to hold up the structure founded on Christ and the apostles and prophets. Here are fellow Christ-confessors, fellow believers who said right along with you that they too are sinners in need of Jesus’ salvation. The same holy, precious blood that was shed to purchase your soul from hell, was shed to purchase their soul from hell as well. Paul writes to the Romans, “We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:5) As fellow members of God’s household of faith, the Lord calls on us to not just be concerned about our own burdens, but also those of our fellow Christ-believer. Listen again to verse 2 of our text, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
The “law of Christ” which Paul refers to here, is the Great Commandment Christ gave on the night He was betrayed. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (Jn 13:34) The law of God has always been about love—love of God above all things and love of neighbor as self. But Christ made the law of love even more vivid and real. On the cross we see Jesus’ love on display: that He would lay down His own life to save us, that He would suffer hell to rescue us from it, that He would die so that we could live eternally. And He who has loved us so much has called us to love one another as He has loved us. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 Jn 4:11)
One way we demonstrate this love for Christ and love for the fellow members of Christ’s household of faith, is to help them bear their burdens. Paul gives us a couple of concrete examples in our text. The first is in verse 1. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” When we see one of our fellow believers caught up in such sin, love for that soul leads us to try and restore them. By that, Paul means to say that in the gentleness of Christian love we warn them about their sin and lead them to repentance and forgiveness in Jesus. Jesus said the same, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” (Mt 18:15)
Another example which Paul gives of bearing the burdens of others is found in verse 6 of our text. “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.” The Christians in Galatia were to help their pastors bear the burden of their work by sharing good things with their teachers. These good things might be finances, food, housing, or encouragement.
There are many other examples we could list of helping our fellow Christ-believers bear their burdens. We could mention visiting and praying for our shut-ins who struggle with health problems and depression because of their condition. We could mention helping our members that have financial struggles or offering to mow the lawn of our members who physically have trouble doing it themselves. All this, Paul summarizes in verse 9 and 10, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Let us not only bear our own burdens but let us bear one another’s burdens.
Load-bearing walls are vital to a structure’s stability. Each wall needs to do its part and also combine with the other walls to keep the building standing. When it comes to the Church, Christ is the foundation; He is the Rock on which the Church is securely built. He bore our great burden of sin on the cross and removed it forever. We still have our own load, our burden, our cross to take up and follow Jesus. But that burden is made lighter when our fellow Christ-believer helps us. May the Holy Spirit who made us members of God’s household of faith ever help us to bear our own load as we follow Christ and in love, bear one another’s burdens. Praise be to our burden-bearer, Jesus Christ, who has made us members of His body. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.