Sunday, October 23rd, 2022

He Now Comes in His Body and Blood

The Day of St. James, Brother of Jesus and Martyr           October 23, 2022

(observed on the 20th Sunday after Pentecost)


Matthew 13:54-58

54 Coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.


In the Name of Jesus.


“Coming to his hometown”—we can contemplate what it means that Jesus had a hometown.


It’s a gift to us, that Jesus had a hometown.


There are no hometowns with false gods. Zeus, god of the Greeks, where did he grow up? Jupiter and Mars of the Romans, what town were they from, what did their father do to feed the family?


Ra and Isis of the Egyptians, same thing. Where’s the house they grew up in, the lake they fished in.


Sometimes cities were attached to the names of these gods, but no one actually thought they were born there in a certain year, under a certain king, in a particular home. Just fantasy.


More to the point, our own false gods.


Who are our false gods? The Large Catechism asks the question, “What does it mean to have a god?”


The Large Catechism then gives the answer, “A god means that from which we are to expect all good and in which we are to take refuge in all distress.”



Then it continues, “Confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol.”


So we can see what our own false gods are. Not Zeus and Hermes or Ra and Isis. But where do we place our confidence for every good gift in life?


We learn these things from our world. How is your self-esteem? You can’t be happy with low self-esteem, so you better work on that.


Or your own resources. Are you using your own resources or talents well enough? Maybe that’s why you’re not happy.


Do you need more stuff to be happy? More possessions, more wealth, more success at work, that’ll make me happy. There you have found your god.


These gods of our ours, these gods to which we will spend our hours dwelling on what we think we need to be happy, be finally content—to these gods we find ourselves giving sacrifice: the sacrifice of time, of our thoughts and dreams, we can even sacrifice our family or loved ones, as we spend our time chasing down the gods we’ve made up and confident that we’ll be happy when we’ve finally reached our goal.


As the Large Catechism says, “Confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol.”



Matthew 13:24:

“Jesus came to his hometown and taught them in their synagogue.”


Made up gods don’t have a hometown. Concepts, dreams, systems, goals we concoct in our mind, they have no address on Earth. They have no hometown. We make them up, and then spend our time chasing them down.


Jesus is not a concept. Not a dream. Not a system made up to make things better; not a goal we are going toward so that we’ll be happy when we get there.


Jesus is a person, a man. Flesh and blood.


He grew up in a certain household, as unique and particular as every other household. He had Joseph and Mary, human parents, looking over him. He had brothers and sisters, including James.


And he knew people, and encountered people, not in their minds, not in their thoughts and decisions and dreams, but he encountered people on the road, or in a house with an address, or at the synagogue, or anywhere else his feet took him.


He walked out to the Jordan to John the Baptist and let him pour water on him and baptize him into the promise, so that upon baptizing Jesus, John then publicly announced him as the Lamb of God bearing the sins of the world. [John 1]


And as the Lamb of God bearing the sins of the world, Jesus touched the diseased skin of the leper and made him clean and healthy [Matthew 8]; and healed the Roman Centurion’s servant with just a word; and cast the demons out of two afflicted men who were in the countryside with the pigs; and made healthy the woman with a blood disorder; and took the dead girl by the hand and made her to stand up, alive. [Matthew 9]


Historical events. Not concepts in the mind, not actions of the will, not systems to bring things under control. But flesh and blood Jesus, walking through towns, encountering other flesh and blood people, people like you and me, and cleansing them, healing them, standing them up in life.


No one is from nowhere. We’re all from somewhere.


With that comes all the history, all the dirt and grime. Where were you born, where did you go to school, where to high school, where was your first job? No one is without the history.


Jesus had a hometown.



So when he went back to his hometown, to these people among whom he grew up,

“they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’”

[Matthew 13:55]


He didn’t get them from Nazareth.


He’s flesh and blood. And he’s Son of the Father in Heaven. True Man, True God—two natures in oneness in Christ Jesus.


From Heaven Jesus brings a Word foreign to Earth, foreign to sinners. The Word would not be heard on Earth, unless the Council in Heaven had it spoken on Earth.


It is the conversation of Heaven.


The conversation between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is the conversation of the Father giving his Words to the Son and sending him to Earth to become flesh and blood in order to give the atoning sacrifice for all sinners.


It is the Son on Earth speaking the Words of his Father, revealing to us sinners his pleading to his Father with his own holy blood, revealing to us his pleading on our behalf to his Father for the justification of the sinner on Earth. It is the Father hearing his Son’s intercession for the sinner, and according to his Son’s intercession, justifying the sinner.


It is the preaching to the sinner on Earth of that intercession of the Son to his Father in Heaven, so that the sinner has faith in the Word the Son speaks on his behalf.


It is the Son ascending back to Heaven after his crucifixion and resurrection on Earth, and the Father and the Son then sending the Holy Spirit to continue bringing the Words of the Son to sinners on Earth so that the sinners are justified and gathered into the Church as they hear this Gospel of the forgiveness of all sins by the atoning blood of the cross.


Where did Jesus get these things?, asked the people of Nazareth.


The Words are from Heaven.


They are words never possible to be spoken on Earth but that the Father sends them from Heaven to be spoken by his Son. Words forgiving sins; words justifying the sinner; words raising up the dead and making leprous skin clean. Words reconciling the sinner with God and reconciling sinners with each other.



But it’s all because Jesus came in the flesh.


He had a hometown. He grew up with a family, including James, one of his brothers. James who, after Jesus ascended to Heaven, was martyred, brutally thrown from the top of the Temple then bashed in the head, all because he, James, would not deny that Jesus, his brother in the flesh, was also true God who shed the atoning blood to cleanse every sinner.


Every sinner, including you and me at our own addresses, in our own mundane lives, with our own histories. But in our own histories, Jesus approaches us, he encounters us, in his own common, mundane ways which he has appointed.


Common water, common bread, common wine. A common preacher, flesh and blood along with every other sinner in the Church, a common preacher given to preach human words, but words from Heaven.


This is water, and bread, and wine, and flesh and blood men, in the Office of Christ, and human words, Jesus takes up into his use.


And his use for these common things and common people, is for the Word of Gospel to be spoken to you for the forgiveness of your sins.


It is for you to be gathered to his Name. For you to know that he intercedes to the Father on your behalf, to know that the Father hears his intercession, and you are justified at the Throne in Heaven.


It was for you that Jesus came to Nazareth as his hometown, that he then went to the cross, and that he now comes in his Body and Blood.


In the Name of Jesus.