Sermon for 09.10.23 “Not me!”

Pentecost 15 (proper 18), Sept. 10, 2023
Text: Ezekiel 33:7–9
Theme: Not me!
Other Lessons: Psalm 32:1–7; Romans 13:1–10; Matthew 18:1–20
A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Old Testament lesson from Ezekiel 33 serves as our sermon text for
this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
Heavenly Father, Lord of Love and Light, we come before You today with open
hearts and open hands.
We are reminded by Your apostle Paul that the one who loves another has
fulfilled the law, for love is the fulfilling of the law.
Lord, pour into us the deep love that You have for each of us, so that we
may extend it to one another, fulfilling Your law and Your calling for our
We recognize, God, that the night is far gone and the day is near.
Time is pressing, and the urgency to love and live rightly is upon us.
We confess, Lord, that we sometimes live as if the night will last forever,
giving into the deeds of darkness rather than putting on the armor of
Lord, help us put away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light
as Your word tells us to.
Help us to live honorably and nobly, as in the day.
In the Name of the Father…we pray. Amen
A. Our text for today is from the book of the prophet Ezekiel.
1. What do you know about Ezekiel?
2. Yes, he was called by God to be his prophet, but what else do you know?
B. Did you know that Ezekiel had already been taken into exile to the land
of Babylon before he received his call from God?
1. Did you know that God told him he would be speaking His words to a
people notorious for being hardheaded and strong-willed?
2. Did you know that the Lord tells Ezekiel to speak His truth to people
who will rebel and not listen no matter what he says?
3. Did you know that God calls upon Ezekiel to speak His words and then
makes him mute so that he can only speak when God tells him to?
4. Did you know that God has Ezekiel do all manner of strange and weird
things—like lie on his side for 390 days and then roll over and lie on his
other side for forty days?
5. Like shave his beard and head, and cook his food over cow dung?
6. Did you know all that?
C. It is in this context we now turn to the words we hear in our Old
Testament lesson for today.
1. Not even Ezekiel would want to be Ezekiel . . . but I am Ezekiel, and so
are you.
A. The first thought that comes to mind is: “Who wants to be Ezekiel?” Any
1. Being a prophet of the Most High God does not always come with a great
job description.
2. It can be:
a) embarrassing,
b) disgusting,
c) and most certainly dangerous.
3. All the strange assignments, all the frustrating and fruitless
preaching, all the dangerous rebellion all around.
4. Who wants to be Ezekiel?
5. Even Ezekiel does not want to be Ezekiel.
B. The second thought is, “I am Ezekiel!”
1. God has called me to preach His Word no matter what.
2. God tells me to be faithful:
a) regardless of the consequences,
b) regardless of the situation,
c) regardless of the number of people in the pews.
3. God lays out:
a) His task,
b) His mission, before me, and not only does it seem daunting, but it even
seems pointless!
c) Who cares what I have to say—except when I’m preaching to the choir?
d) Who will listen?
e) But as a called and ordained pastor, I am called by God to be about the
work of the Kingdom, which He lays out before me.
f) I am Ezekiel!
C. The third thought is even more frightening.
1. “You are Ezekiel!”
2. “Wait a minute,” you say. “I didn’t volunteer for this.
3. I didn’t sign up.
4. I was just minding my own business.”
5. Yes, just like Ezekiel.
a) “I am not trained!
b) I am not qualified!
c) I’m just a layperson!”
6. Yes, just like Ezekiel.
a) The Lord God sends you and me from here in the pew to out in the world.
b) He sends us as sheep among wolves.
c) He sends us out with His Holy Word, which causes people to gnash their
teeth in anger and rage.
d) You are Ezekiel . . . and it is a frightening reality!
2. It is terrifying to be “Ezekiel.”
A. Very terrifying, is it not?
1. It is terrifying to be Ezekiel!:
a) not just because he had such a tough job description,
b) but because the people of God sent out have tough duties ahead of them.
c) In truth, this is no different for us, and God does not claim anything
different for us.
d) Very frightening, terrifying, because we know who we are!
B. We are unqualified; we are sinners.
1. Everything about us begs the question, “Why me, Lord?”
a) I am a lost and condemned sinner.
b) I have sinned against the Lord in thought, word, and deed, by what I
have done and left undone.
c) My sin stands in the way of my relationship with God.
d) I walk paths that are dark and unhealthy.
e) I live in ways that are corrupt and filthy.
f) I follow paths that are choked with the thorns and brambles of the evil
g) How can God use me? How can He send me?
h) How can He expect righteousness from me, the most unrighteous, the chief
of sinners?
i) Who will not see me for what I am?
C. And look where the Lord wants us to go.
1. Have you:
a) read the papers,
b) listened to the radio,
c) watched tv
d) or checked the internet lately?
2. The landscape in this world of ours in no way resembles a manicured
English garden!
a) It is a mess,
b) In fact, it’s a big hot mess!
c) Not a mess that can be handled with a garden rake.
d) No, we’re looking at a bulldozer that needs to level everything!
e) It is a terrible, frightening mess, and, truthfully, my presence can
only make it worse.
D. In truth, we are as bad as those to whom we’re sent.
1. We are no different from them really:
a) sinners who have stopped their ears against the Word of God,
b) hearing only what we want to hear,
c) listening to the things that scratch our itching ears.
2. If God thinks that I can be Ezekiel, then He’s miscalculated, because I
am a failure!
a) I am unworthy, and therefore unqualified to serve the Lord.
E. It’s all true . . . but did I mention that Ezekiel felt the same and
said the same?
3. But the Lord qualifies us through Christ Jesus and sends us out with His
A. Ezekiel, me, you—none of us is qualified.
1. Yet the Lord calls, qualifies, and sends us anyway.
2. The Lord God knows the breadth and depth of our sin, and He knows our
inability to walk away and be cleansed from sin.
a) He knows, and so He sends the light of his only-begotten Son, Jesus
Christ, to pierce the darkness of this world and the darkness of our flesh.
b) He becomes flesh to dwell among us so that He can take on the forces of
sin, death, and Satan in our place.
c) Christ Jesus journeys to the cross at Calvary carrying the burden of the
sin of the world, and He lays down His life in our place.
d) He washes and cleanses us from sin and every evil.
e) He redeems our life and restores our souls.
3. And He calls out.
a) Out of the darkness of sin and death, He calls us into His marvelous
b) Now we belong to him.
c) We are the people of God.
d) Once we were no people, but now we are the people of God . . . because
we have been called into this reality.
B. Ezekiel, me, you—now we are all qualified . . . not by our own merits or
1. Not by the works of my hand or the words of my lips.
2. We are qualified because God Himself has qualified us by the holy blood
of His Only Begotten.
3. The blood that flows from the Savior as He hangs on the tree not only
washes away our sin, but it also brings us into the Kingdom.
4. It qualifies us to be:
a) the children of God;
b) to be servants of the Holy Gospel of Jesus.
5. God has qualified us through His Son, and He continues to:
a) renew,
b) restore,
c) and redeem us with His gifts of Word and Sacrament.
6. He prepares us to be:
a) His preachers,
b) His teachers,
c) His lights,
d) His witnesses in this world.
e) His voice.
C. So, he sends us out—Ezekiel, me, you.
1. He sends us out.
2. He calls us, qualifies us, and sends us out.
3. Never alone,
a) not without preparation,
b) not without His truth to proclaim,
c) never without words that give life
d) He sends us out.
D. A modern rendering of our text goes something like this:
1. “I have called you to be a watchman, and this is what that means (this
is your identity).
2. I will cause you to carry out your work of warning, but if you do not do
it (if you fight against Me), then the blood of these people (and yours)
will be on your hands.
3. But if you do what I am calling you to do (and causing you to do, giving
you the ability to do), then you will have delivered your soul regardless
of the reaction of the people.
4. (You yourself will not have rejected or have fought against the Lord and
his salvation.)”
E. We can do nothing good.
1. We can do nothing to deliver ourselves unless the Lord God causes and
enables us to do it.
2. This is at the core of Lutheran theology!
3. While we are given laws, statutes, commands, callings from God, it is
God who causes and enables us to carry them out by virtue of having caused
us to be His child.
4. We can:
a) reject,
b) ignore,
c) walk away,
d) and thus forsake our deliverance;
e) thus our own blood and the blood of those who may have been brought in,
if we had been faithful, would then be on our hands.
A. Yes, the world is just as dark today as it was when Ezekiel was sent.
1. It is a hostile environment and an adversarial climate that we live in.
2. But it is into this world, this reality, that we are sent.
3. No one will try to convince you that this is easy work, a simple task,
or even a great vocation.
4. But it is that to which we are called as the children of God who walk
and live in the grace poured out for us on the cross.
B. Perhaps you have heard this saying: “God does not call the qualified; he
qualifies the called.”
1. This is true for Ezekiel, true for me, and true for you.
2. God qualifies the called!
3. God Qualifies Us to Be His “Ezekiels” to Our World.
4. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
C. Let us pray:
Lord God, heavenly Father, may we wake up to the reality of Your Kingdom,
casting aside the deeds of darkness.
Help us put on the Lord Jesus Christ, clothing ourselves in His love,
grace, and power.
Let us make no provision for the flesh, not giving an inch to the
temptations that draw us away from You.
As we worship You today, fill us anew with Your Holy Spirit, so that we
leave this place equipped and ready to love our neighbors, and even our
enemies, as ourselves.
We long for the return of Your Son, Jesus, and until that day, help us to
be vigilant, keeping our lamps trimmed and burning brightly in a dark world.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with
You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
D. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
E. In the Name of the Father…Amen.