Palm Sunday Sermon A
"Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup, For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." 1 Cor. 11:27-29
These words St. Paul writes to the Christians of Corinth where some had begun to partake of the Lord's supper in a heathenish way as many also now step to the Lord's table unworthily to eat and drink without considering for what reason this high repast has been instituted. Many come to the Lord's table as an eagle to the carcass, to eat and drink of the Lord's holy body and blood without penitance, without faith, without love, without suitability. Some come only for custom's sake to eat and to drink, not discerning the Lord's body, and leave from the Lord's house in the same heathen condition as they were in when they came there. Some, too overlook the medium of grace and hold themselves as worthy communion guests until a change in clergy comes. And when such a distributor of the communion comes, who does not question at all who is the betrayer, then all heathens and co-brothers of Judas become worthy communion guests. Some do not go at all to the Lord's supper, so that no hurt would come upon the conscience, for they feel that their lives do not agree with those promises, which they must make before the Lord's altar. They want to run in the woods like deer and imagine that there is not such a great responsibility with those, who have never made promises of repentance. But it is unknown which one will have the greater responsibility When one goes unworthily or improperly to the Lord's holy supper, and there makes promises of repentance which he does not intend to keep or fulfill; the second one goes to confirm his faith with a hard and impenitent heart; the third one goes only for custom's sake and the fourth one does not go at all to the Lord's supper, but overlooks the medium of grace and takes that wrong assumption to himself that they will have a lighter responsibility who do not go at all to the Lord's supper than those who do. I think, that same those who dispise the mediums of grace, can finally howl in the same den as they, who do not dispise the medium of grace but receive the dipped sop as Judas, It is one great error and wrong thought, which causes many to overlook the mediums of grace, just for that reason that they will have a lighter responsibility who do not go at all then those who go as Judas, or those who go to confirm their dead faith. Perhaps these unworthy communion guests say, We do not overlook the mediums of grace, but because of unworthiness we do not want to go. It is only a lie, that unworthiness prevents them from going, who only are waiting for a change in the clergy, such ones are only worthy on account of the clergy but not because of their sins. When such a clergy comes who allows all the bucks and goats into the kingdom of heaven without questioning, then all the slaves of the devil become worthy; and when such a clergy comes who warns of Judas, then all the slaves of the devil become unworthy. But they are not any better, who do not go at all to the Lord's supper, whether Paul or Kaifas were the clergy. For such ones are not truly in the right feeling of unworthiness, but they have such great pride and dispising, that they do not want to go at all to make promises of repentance, so that no knot would come upon the conscience, that their life is not such that it does not pay to go to make such promises which they have no intention to keep or fulfill. It is more pleasant for deer to run free than to be fastened by a leather strap and twist there, Whoever does not want to make promises of repentance, he does not want to be saved, he is so in love with sin, that he does not want to leave the devil. And such are many unworthy communion guests, they love those old bosom sins so much that they do not want to leave the devil and therefore they overlook the mediums of grace. Some certainly go the the Lord's supper as Judas but with deceitful hearts, or with such intentions, that they will fulfill their evil intentions, even if they receive warning. They imagine that no harm will come to Jesus or to the Christians, although they carry Judasī money bag around their neck. Some are so blind that they do not feel the weight of the Lord's supper at all, although they are whores and thieves, all the same they go to the Lord's supper and there steal grace, and imagine that the Saviour is merciful to them, although they drink, curse and fight, commit adultery and steal. Such mock the parent's tears and trample His blood. All these unworthy and worthy communion guests, eat and drink to themselves condemnation and destruction, namely, first those unworthy communion guests who do not go at all to the Lord's supper for that reason, that they love sin so much, that they cannot leave the devil and his ways, and certainly know that their lives are contrary to the Word of God, that it does not pay to go and make promises of repentance with such a heart. Secondly, such communion guests, who are only worthy because of the clergy, they only become worthy through one sorrowless clergy; and third such communion guests who step boldly to the Lord's table with Judasī money bag around their neck nor do they want to part from their most dear bosom sins, or feel their sins allowable, and under the shadow of allowance practice them. All these unworthy and worthy communion guests eat and drink to themselves condemnation and destruction, not discerning the Lord's body. Such ones St. Paul now counsels in his first missionary letter to the Corinthians 11:27, which we must more broadly observe, when we first pray to that great distributor of the supper who gave Himself for a sacrifice for our sins, that he would teach us to know who are worthy communion guests and who are the betrayers. True disciples of Jesus always become sorrowful, when they hear from Jesusī own mouth that one is a betrayer, and it would always be easier to believe, that some soul would be saved, if only every twelfth communion guest were a betrayer. But God help us, in these times there is not more than one in twelve a worthy communion guest. Oh heavenly distributor of the supper, hear the humble prayer of all the worthy communion guests when they cry unto you with sorrowful and oppressed hearts. Our Father etc.
The Gospel 1 Cor. 11: 23
In accordance with our holy text we must through God's grace consider, "Who are worthy and unworthy communion guests."
The first consideration, Are they worthy communion guests who do not go at all to the Lord's supper? The second consideration, Are they worthy communion guests, who because of the clergy do not go to communion but become worthy when a sorrowless clergy comes to allow them to communion? The third consideration, Are they worthy communion guests who often go to the Lord's Supper and nevertheless hate the Christians? The fourth consideration. Are they worthy communion guests who go to the Lord's supper with a deceitful heart, that is, with Judas' money bag around their neck? Consider now you disciples who is the betrayer; Judas wants to carry the honor of a Christian.
The first consideration. Are they worthy communion guests who do not go at all to the Lord's supper? It is difficult to say are they worthy when they keep themselves to be unworthy, but I think that their unworthiness will soon change to proudness and dispising since they love sin, and because of those sins do not want to receive the medium of grace. They feel namely that it does not pay to go to the Lord's supper with such a life, they fear that a knot would come upon the conscience if they would make promises of repentance. Therefore they are absent from the Lord's supper so that no knot would come upon the conscience, if they would go to the Lord's supper to make promises of repentance which they do not intend to keep. It is more pleasant for them to run as deer in the woods, than to take the cord of the Holy Spirit around their head and become exhausted there. If such men make promises of repentance before the Lord's altar, they would be bound to these promises and the conscience would sometimes begin to gnaw that such precious promises never become fulfilled. Although before when younger the same kind of precious promises were made before the altar of Jesus; which have never been fulfilled, but not considering those things as much, what was promised before, those promises have been and gone. God probably does not remember those promises any more, which these unworthy guests have promised, then when they stood for the first time before the altar of Jesus, no doubt God has already forgotten them long ago. How do you think, you worthy communion guests, who do not dare to come any more to the Lord's table to make promises of repentance, has God forgotten those first promises, which you have made then, when you for the first time stood before the Lord's altar? Since you yourself have long ago forgotten those first promises of love and faithfulness, no doubt God has also forgotten them? But I think, that God has also written those promises into the book of the memory, and will finally ask you, you unworthy communion guests, when and in what way those promises have been fulfilled? Although you now avoid the Lord's supper, you imagine thereby to get by easier and with a lighter responsibility, who knows if the conscience would not begin finally to accuse you, that you have lived as deer in the woods, and overlooked the mediums of grace.
The second consideration. Are they worthy guests, who only because of the clergy have become unworthy? We do not know what sin they have on the conscience; but in the mouth they have such a faith that the wrong doctrine is preached in church, and for that reason they cannot sit in church nor go to the Lord's supper when such a clergy preaches who cries out their sins to the world; but if such a clergy would come who does not examine the communion guests with even one word but allows all the old heathens to the communion without warning them, then they become worthy communion guests and through such a sorrowless clergy all the old heathens are allowed into the kingdom of heaven; although it went contrary with Judas who also tried to become saved through the sorrowless clergy? but the brothers of Judas of this time do not take him for an example, but they always force in from that wrong opening, and thereby find death and destruction. But these brothers of Judas probably do not have such a gnawing conscience as Judas, for Judas confessed his sins to the clergy, but the brothers of Judas certainly do not confess their sins to the clergy not before the last breath of life is breathed and then the Saviour is not only judged but has already died, who then will forgive them their sins, when the sorrowless clergy, who are enemies of Jesus' cross, say to Judas' brothers, "What does it concern us? See to it yourself." It is dangerous, that some wretches, who because of the clergy have become unworthy and through the sorrowless clergy become worthy, go the same road as Judas, and if the conscience awakens when they can realize how much Jesus has to suffer because of them, then it goes with them as with Judas that the devil of self-righteousness gets such great power over them that he hangs them.
The third consideration. Are they worthy communion guests who go often to the Lord's supper but hate the Christians? They are not worthy communion guests, because such ones openly mock the parent's tears, they are like those children who always guarrel with each other and scratch and pull the hair and nevertheless want to sit in the parent's lap. Can the parent love such ones, who do nothing but evil to the other children? They are as the bastard Ishmael who became terrible in Sarah's eyes, when he hated his younger brother, who was born after the spirit. What does the Bible say? "Cast out the bond woman and her son, for the son of the bond woman will not be heir with the free." They who go often to the Lord's supper, and nevertheless bear hatred toward the Christians, they are true bastards, who do not fit together with God's children, and all the same imagine that they receive grace and forgiveness of sins in the Lord's supper, but it is the devil, who forgives sins to such communion guests. With their hypocrisy they go to the Lord's supper, and the devil makes them so blind, that they themselves believe that they are true Christians, although some say with their own mouths, "We are not Christians, but they who confess themselves to be Christians have gone up too high." We know surely, that bastards cannot agree at all with the children, always a quarrel will come up between them. For the bastards cannot acknowledge themselves to be children of the right father, nor do the bastards know who their right father is. Nor can the parent either acknowledge them before the world as their children, but those he acknowledges as his children, who have come from the marriage bed. The bastards cannot possibly get anything from the parent's home, although the wretches imagine that the parent will give to them in secret that which the world and the other children do not know about. But what does the Bible say: "Cast out the bond woman and her son, for he cannot be heir with the son of the free" So all the bastards, all hypocrites, all mouth-christians, all confessors of dead faith, who have nothing to inherit in the Parent's home, must leave when the time of the distribution of the inheritance comes, for they do not have a child-right, and such bastards cannot acknowledge themselves to be children of God, if they would yet acknowledge as the Jews, "We are children of Abraham." They cannot nevertheless show how they have been born legitimately. If the bastards would say 10 times "We have a father, God, God has not forsaken us, surely the door of grace is still open to us" so the Bible says: "Cast out the bond woman and her son, for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the free." So therefore those communion guests are not worthy, who go very often to the Lord's supper but nevertheless hate the Christians. Such communion guests are just the true bastards, who also want to eat the children's bread and imagine thereby to become saved that they steal grace, every time that they go to communion to strengthen their faith and moreover serpent's poison drips from between their teeth as soon as they open their mouths. Such bastards are even worse than those former ones who do not go at all to the Lord's supper.
The fourth consideration. Are they worthy communion guests who come to the Lord's table with a deceitful heart, or with Judasī money bag around their neck? They are many, who in that respect follow Judasī footsteps, knowing full well, that they have ill-gotten money in their money bag, but cannot bear to part with the dear world. They, no doubt, think like Judas, that is not anything, that we have money in our bag, no harm will come to the Saviour through that. But to your own soul will probably come the greatest harm, because the ill-gotten money is so dear, that you cannot part with it. The devil of greed was the first which went into Judas Iscariot's heart, and the devil of anger went into him after the dipped sop, and finally the devil of self righteousness went into him which drove him to the tree to hang himself. Who knows if the same Judgement will not come to his brothers who go around with a money bag around the neck, and know for sure, that ill-gotten money is behind, nor do they want to cleanse their consciences. Who knows that it will not go with them as with Judas if the conscience finally awakens, when they see Jesus condemned, so that they then throw the ill-gotten money into the temple, and even then do not get peace of conscience} but self righteousness causes them to strangle their soul. So it has gone with many who have carried the ill-gotten money until that time, when Jesus has been condemned by the world, the conscience
has received such great power to condemn? the devil of self-righteousness has received such great power to accuse, that they have had to say on their death bed as it is written, "they are not suitable for me." "A poor journey is ahead, but now it is too late." So it happens with those who go around with Judas' money bag around the neck. Now we have recounted those who have gone to the Lord's supper and those who do not go. And we have so thought that out of four different kinds of communion guests none are worthy, who have the afore-mentioned characteristics. But someone might question here, "Who would be finally worthy?" He who is truely unworthy, he is truely worthy. Here Peterīs unworthiness comes before our eyes. We know that upon Peter came such a feeling of unworthiness when Jesus wanted to wash his feet, and this unworthiness effected so much in him, that he began to oppose, when he said, "you shall never wash my feet." But we have afterward realized that this was false unworthiness, which often effects in the awakened, although they feel that that false unworthiness prevents them from coming to Jesus, that He could cleanse them, all the same self-righteousness wants to prevent them from coming to Jesus, that He could wash their feet. Many a penitent one intends to go to the Lord's table but does not go although he has intended, when that false unworthiness falls upon him and such an effect is just the effect of the evil spirit. We say therefore to Peter, "if you do not allow your feet to be washed, you will have no part or lot with Jesus." If the feeling of false unworthiness bothers you, then you are worthy to receive cleansing, for that is not the right feeling of unworthiness which prevents the penitent from seeking cleansing, but that is the true unworthiness which compells the penitent to seek cleansing, when they begin to feel that they have no part or lot with Jesus without cleansing. And that must be a sign to all penitent, that it is false unworthiness which makes some of Jesusī disciples so stiff and so obstinate to receive cleansing; for graced Christians also need every day to have their feet washed for the reason that the dust of sin falls upon their feet when they go bare footed upon this sinful earth. Let your feet be washed now Peter and be not obstinate, you will be left out of Jesusī grace if you do not allow your feet to be washed. You are not a disciple of Jesus if you do not allow your feet to be washed. Otherwise how can you walk upon that golden floor in that new Jerusalem if your feet are not clean. "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." Pray now Peter that Jesus would wash your feet for much dust of sin has fallen from the world upon them although you have not traveled any further than from Bethany to Jerusalem. Surely you need washing, although through false unworthiness do not want your feet washed; you will soon be left without your share because of that false unworthiness; soon, soon you will be left without, if you do not allow your feet to be washed, for clean feet are needed if you must walk bare-footed in that new Jerusalem, where the streets shine of pure and precious gold; clean feet are needed if you must walk upon the clean floor in the wedding hall of the Lamb, where the bridesmaids jump and the daughters of Zion dance, there all must have clean feet for the Heavenly Host will not suffer His floor to be spoiled. Amen.