When Moses came down from the mountain, he saw the golden calf with which the Israelites had replaced God. When Jesus shows up, what will you have set up in His place? What is your idol? What false god do you look to to bring your comfort and happiness instead of Jesus? When your conscience is troubled, what fake idol do you look at to get it to stop bothering you? Is it your money? Is it your health? Is it some other person? Is it some thing or object? Is it some habit or behavior? Is it you? What is it? What is your "golden calf" that you would dance around and be happy with but be sad if it were taken away from you? Understand something. Whatever you set up in the place of God is an idol. And idols are abominations. God wiped out nations because of their false gods. He destroyed whole peoples because they turned from Him to worship metal or wood or stone, or, mostly, themselves. When the Lord shows up like the lightning on the clouds of heaven, what will He catch you worshiping? What abomination of desolation is at the center of your life?
Well, you know what the real abomination of desolation is? You know what the real heap of sinfulness is? You know what the absolute center of God's anger and hatred and wrath lands on and lays waste? Jesus. Calvary. The cross. Your idols have nothing on the filthiness of Jesus on Calvary. Your false gods have nothing on the horrible cross upon which Jesus was made sin for you. That's because when He hung there, he wasn't just carrying your false gods and idols. He was carrying everyone's. There's irony for you. The Son of God. True God. True man. Damned by the father as if He is the world's worst idolater, false-god worshiper. The filthiest, sinfulest, falsest sinner and idol-worshiper there is. Because on the cross He is every sinner. He is your sin. The true God in the flesh becomes your idols to be melted down by the wrath of God. And He does it to save you. To save you from your idols which can't save you. To rescue you from the very things you have put your trust in that will ultimately let you down. To deliver you from being melted in the fires of hell. He did all that. He suffered all that. He endured all that. He was judged for all that. For you. So that He might be made dead, dead and laid in the grave and then kick down the doors of death and hell and rise on Easter. Now THERE is a God who can do something. And the something He does is save you from your idols.
Now beware of people sticking Jesus' name on their idols. They'll tell you that Jesus is here or there or coming on this day or that day. Remember the world was going to end in September...? Just like the Israelites said the golden calf was "Yahweh, the Lord," so people are attaching Jesus' name to their false theology and teaching all the time. In fact, the biggest idol they stick His name on is you. Jesus loves you, so YOU just have to... Jesus wants YOU to do... Jesus is all about making YOU do something...or do better...or be better... Pay close attention because what they're really doing is teaching YOU how to take Jesus' place. The real Jesus doesn't do that. HE takes YOUR place. HE saves you. HE is your God. That's why we don't look for Him where the loonies are telling us. We look for Him where He Himself has promised to be. Font: the water and the Word. Absolution: His Word spoken by your preacher. Sermon: the Good News of His death and resurrection proclaimed to you. Supper: Jesus Himself gives you His body and blood. In those gifts you know exactly where Jesus is and exactly what He's doing: saving you from your sins! All your idols? Your false gods? Worthless. They can't help you. And it would be great if we could just quit them. But we can't so instead we are rescued. Saved. Jesus pulls you away from your false idols, even and most especially yourself as He drowns you with His death at the font and raises you to new life. As He shoves aside the "you" gods and replaces them with His flesh and blood that will do what no other god can do: forgive you and raise you from the dead! So there you go. Jesus has told you. You can't be led astray by worthess idols now. As Moses pleaded for Israel, so Jesus pleads for you, rescues you from your golden calves and will bring you safely to the resurrection promised land He has prepared for you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Sermon Topics: Matthew