Pastor Paul Waldschmidt delivers a sermon entitled “To Him Be Glory” based on Jude 24-25 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered on Sunday, October 28, 2018
Paul Allen scored a perfect score of 1600 on his SAT’s. He was named to Time Magazine’s list of the World’s Most Influential people….twice. In 2007 and 2008. He held 43 different patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He was the creative force behind an award winning television and film production company. He was owner of both the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Oh yeah…he was also the founder of a little company called Microsoft, with his friend Bill Gates.
What was Paul Allen famous for? The answer is everything. Everything he did, it seemed, was successful and gained him notoriety. Paul Allen is the exact opposite of the guys we’re talking about today. What’s the Simon the Zealot famous for? “Wait, isn’t he the one the one that denied Jesus?” No, that was Simon Peter. “Is he the guy the Roman soldiers wrangled to carry Jesus’ cross on Good Friday?” No, that was Simon of Cyrene. So who is Simon the Zealot? He’s the opposite of Paul Allen–he’s a guy who’s famous for nothing. Ok, that’s a bit of hyperbole. I mean, after all, we know that he was one of the twelve that Jesus hand-picked and called his disciples. That’s not nothing! But honestly the Bible doesn’t tell us much more than his name. He’s a quiet disciple.
History gives us a reason to believe that Simon the Zealot’s pre-disciple life wasn’t always so quiet. It all centers around what the descriptor Zealot actually means. Some say that he’s called a Zealot, simply because he was a man of great religious zeal. That he didn’t do anything halfheartedly, but truly loved the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his strength. (Matt 22:37) If that is being a zealot….Lord, make each of us one of those!
But things get real interesting when we learn that the Zelotes were actually a formal political group. They were zealously opposed to Roman intervention in the government of their homeland, and there was even a splinter group among them known as the Sicarii, or dagger men. And they were not using their daggers to whittle little action figures of Caesar. They were real life hit men.
Now, don’t misunderstand. The Bible doesn’t say that Simon was a Sicarii or even that he was an active member of the Zealot political party. But if he did indeed run in those circles…wow…what a journey! To go from trusting the power of a weapon to the change people’s lives, to trusting the power of the Spirit to change people’s lives. To go from the sword of anarchy to the sword of the Spirit! There is your dagger! (to borrow a phrase!)
As little as we know about Simon the Zealot, we know even less of about Jude. He was one of the 12. And well, that’s about it. The Jude who wrote the words of our text, was probably a different guy named Jude. Talk about the ultimate in anonymity. It’s your festival and people read the words of a different guy who happens to share your name! But even though the words came from the pen of somebody else, Jude-the apostle nevertheless embodied them. “To him who is able to keep you from falling…to the only God and Savior be glory.”
To Him be glory. That’s really what a festival day like this is about. It’s about learning from those who’ve gone before us. But what exactly do we learn? What do we learn from guys we know nothing about? From guys whose only claim to fame is that they knew Jesus, and glorified him in their lives by doing what he called them to do—without fame, without fanfare, without recognition? What could we possibly learn from them? How about what the Christian life is really about it! Knowing Jesus, glorifying him in our lives by doing what he has called us to do, without fame, without fanfare, without recognition. To Him be glory.
The anonymity of men like Simon and Jude might be all the more reason to have special Sunday for them. The disciples that nobody ever notices might be the disciples who are most relatable for us! It’s likely that none of us will ever have our own entry on Wikipedia. It’s possible, but not at all likely that any of us will ever be named to a list of the World’s Most Influential people. Getting our name and picture in the paper might be the most notoriety we’ll ever receive. And so, in Simon and Jude, we see ourselves. They are simply put, disciples. People whose greatest aspiration is to quietly follow Jesus. Isn’t that our greatest aspiration as well?
To Him be glory. That helps us makes sense of why we’re here. Some people come to see it early in life…for some people it takes a few decades, but eventually all of us come to the realization: “Hey….isn’t what I’m doing today the exact same thing I did yesterday? And the exact same thing I’m going to be doing tomorrow? Get up go to work or school, come home, eat dinner, go to bed. And then tomorrow, get up to work/school, come home, eat dinner, go to bed… And then I repeat that for about 60 years or more. And if it’s just this non-stop, endless repetition of the same (pretty much anonymous) routine, if I’m just another face in the crowd—what’s my life really worth?
Well, the answer is…a lot. It’s worth a whole lot. First of all, because a blood price was paid for it. Remember the words of Jude? He is who is able to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy. Without fault. But how is that possible??? We can’t get out of bed without sinning. Even our greatest gifts of generosity are tinged by self satisfaction. Even our humblest acts of service are tainted by hopes of reciprocity or at least recognition. So how are we able to come to the end of our lives, much less the end of a day without fault? The answer of course is Jesus. The one who covers all our faults with his blood. Anonymity in the world isn’t such a bad thing. Jesus knows you. That’s makes every day worth living.
Forgiveness is gift. So is the air you breathe. Your life is a gift. It didn’t happen by accident. It was planned. And the faith that brings you here to this place. It, too, is a gift. It didn’t happen by accident. It was planned. All this is way of saying that your relationship with God brings your life meaning. Whether people know your name or not, you’re a part of something bigger than you—just like Simon was, just like Jude was. You’re not just here for you. Or even for the people around you. To Him be the glory.
To Him be glory. That’s the Spirit given mindset that infuses every moment of our lives with nobility and purpose. People may never read your name in a history book. But you can take care of the family that God’s entrusted to you. That brings nobility to making dinner. You can take care of the body that he’s given you. That brings nobility to exercise. You can take care of the mental and physical gifts he’s given you. That brings nobility to math homework or to making sure your product at your workstation is the best it can be. You can take care of the home and the possessions he’s given you. That brings nobility to cutting the grass, sifting out the litter box and cleaning the half inch wide and one mile deep chasm that exists in between the washer and the dryer.
To him be glory. Inscribe those words on your hands. To Him be glory. Inscribe those words on your brain. To Him be glory. Inscribe those words on your heart. Then all you do, recognized or not, will truly have meaning. Amen.