What Are You Worth?
The Nativity of St. John the Baptist
24 June 2016
What is a human being worth? Is he worth 2000 hogs (Lk 8:26-39)? Is he as valuable as one rare gray gorilla? We are confronted with the stark reality of man's inhumanity to man in Luke 8:26-39. Jesus has compassion on this poor demon possessed man condemned to living in pits filled with decayed human remains, subjected to degradation of unspeakable sorts, often deprived of his liberty chained here and there by his fellows. Jesus won't have it! He casts out the demons and gives the man back himself.

How horrifying then that seeing the man in his right mind, fully clothed, with his self-composure returned to him, that his neighbors, who had seen him naked, starving, violent, and living with death, are now afraid (Lk 8:35)! He has his life back and his fellow humans have become afraid. What a reversal of values! They have no compassion for the plight of the man, no joy for the recovery of himself that Jesus has worked in his life. His neighbors are only angry that the hogs are lost to them, not rejoicing at finding the man clothed, in his right mind, and being instructed by Jesus, the Lord of Life. They have hated the Master for no reason, why would they care about his disciple. Jesus says, "The word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause'" (Jn 15:25). We should not expect those who hate us to be reasonable in their hatred.

The people living in the Gerasenes demanded that Jesus leave them so that He would no longer cost them so much money by saving the people of their community. "What are 2000 hogs worth?" The life of a man? O the depth of human depravity! We think with our pocketbooks rather than with the souls God created within us. We actually think that the bottom line is really all about money to our shame. Jesus will have no part in such neglect.
When the man who has been freed begs to follow him and continue to sit at His feet, Jesus refuses him a place in the boat and instead redirects his zeal. To what? To the needs of the very people who had rejected Jesus' stay among them, asking Him to leave. Jesus commands the man, now in his right mind, to go to the people who had left him a slave to Legion. Those complicit in his torment now receive his compassion. He went and told them all that God had done for him. When Jesus returned his life to him, Jesus intended him to give that life away to those who had neglected him and consigned him to a life among the dead. He who now had life was able to save those, who, like he had, lived among the dead. In the joy of Christ's salvation, he could do no other, as Jesus had directed him. He did not want his neighbors to stay in the graveyard where death had "royal scope and room."

In the end, the formerly demon-possessed man was absolutely clear about who Jesus was. Jesus had commanded him "Go tell everyone what God has done for you!" And Luke reports that the man went and proclaimed how much Jesus had done for him. Because this Jesus is the saving God, the man needed to tell everyone what Jesus had done. Jesus invites us to do the very same thing in our dying world: Tell everyone what He has done for you. You are worth everything to Him. See what you cost Him!

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

John Chrysostom

"The city of God is the church of the firstborn, the spirits of the righteous, the general assembly of the angels, the blood of sprinkling, (Heb 12:22-24) by which all are interwoven into one, and heaven received the things of earth, and earth the things of heaven, and peace has come which was of old longed for both by angels and saints.

"In it stands the trophy of the cross, glorious, and conspicuous, the spoils won by Christ, the firstfruits of our nature, the treasure of our King. From the Gospels we shall know all these completely. If you follow in becoming serenity, we shall be able to lead you everywhere, and show where death is set forth crucified, and where sin is hanged up, and where there are many and wondrous offerings from this war, from this battle.

"You shall also see the tyrant bound here, and the multitude of the captives following, and the citadel from which that unholy demon overran all things in the past. You will see the hiding places, and the dens of the robber, broken up now, and laid open, for even there also was our King present.

"Do not become weary, beloved, for if someone were describing a visible war, trophies, and victories, you could never get enough. No, you would not prefer even food to this history. But if that kind of narrative is welcome, how much more this. For consider what a thing it is to hear, how on the one side God from heaven, arising from His royal throne, leaped down to the earth, and even unto hell itself, and stood in the battle array; and how the devil on the other hand set himself in array against Him; or rather not against God unveiled, but God hidden in man's nature.

"What is wonderful, is that you will see death destroyed by death, curse extinguished by curse, and the dominion of the devil put down by those very things by which he once prevailed."

John ChrysostomHomilies on Matthew
, 2.1
Revelation 20:1-6

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Jesus, in the Gospels stands the trophy of Your cross, our glorious treasure. Let us serenely follow and see where death is set forth as crucified, where sin is hung up, and the trophies of life from this battle. Show us the tyrant bound, that unholy demon who overran all things in the past. Show us now the dens of the robber, broken up, and laid open, for even there also were You present. Let us see that death was destroyed by death, curse extinguished by curse, and the dominion of the devil put down by You. Let us be instant in proclaiming everything You have done for us, for it is great; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

For Vicar Matthew Bless, who will be installed in office at Memorial Lutheran Church, on Sunday, that his time of learning might be fruitful for him

For James Weaver, who is recovering from surgery, that the Lord Jesus would give him full and complete healing

For Michael Golchert who is undergoing medical diagnosis, that the Lord would grant wisdom to doctors and other health professionals who will see to his needs
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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