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Exodus 20:1-17 The Lord brought you out of captivity to follow him!

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When you hear the words “long car ride” words like “boring” or “Please, no” or questions like “Why?” or “Where are we going?” or even nonverbal things like eye rolling or heavy sighs follow. You are held captive during a long car ride until you reach your destination like the beach, an amusement park or grandma and grandpa’s house.

When you arrive the captivity ends, but there are more words like “Put on sunscreen,” “Wash your hands,” “Hold my hand and stay close,” “Take your shoes off” and “Say, ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’” These new words are not meant to hold you captive, but free you to enjoy the destination safely and without harm.

God shows us our sins in the Ten Commandments and how he saved us through Jesus. As a saved and delivered child of God, you get to follow the Ten Commandments to show love to God and other people.

We struggle to follow God’s Ten Commandments. I saw a comical illustration of this in a reel a few days ago. It began with a woman sitting in the front passenger seat of her car saying that she feels good with Jesus behind the wheel. Then, she started offering suggestions to Jesus like ‘most people turn here,’ ‘the speed limit is 55, so you could go a little faster,’ ‘we could stop here for a snack,’ ‘turn here, oh, no, ok, well I guess we can take the next exit,’ etc. When Jesus is in the driver’s seat of your life, his words pointing you in a certain direction are not always what you want to hear.

Israel was just two months into their journey since God freed them from captivity in Egypt. In our Old Testament reading from Exodus 20, God spoke the words of his Ten Commandments for the first time, but before sharing those words, he gave a concise reminder of who he is and what he had done for Israel, 1 And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

God is the “I AM” God, the LORD, which was the name he gave Moses in Exodus 3 to share with the people before sending him to Egypt to deliver them. He is the God who put his love into action by bringing them out of their slavery in Egypt. He is the God who sent ten miraculous plagues passing judgment on the power of the false gods of Egypt even Pharoah who saw himself as a god, he spared Israel’s firstborn sons with the Passover lamb’s blood painted on their doorframes, he parted the Red Sea allowing Israel to cross on dry ground then drowned Pharoah’s army and he provided manna, quail and water to keep Israel alive in the desert.

Now Israel was camped at the base of Mount Sinai where God made his presence known through thunder and lightning, trumpet blasts, smoke, an earthquake and a thick cloud. Fear gripped all the people, but then a stillness fell so they could all hear God speak these words. These words of the Ten Commandments were different from the “laws” which followed in Exodus 21 that applied to the nation of Israel for limited time. God only wrote the words of the Ten Commandments on the two stone tablets recorded in Exodus 31. These words applied to all people including us.

With Jesus in the driver’s seat of your life, the road he wants to take you down could be called “Ten Commandments Way.” At first glance, heading down “Ten Commandments Way” with Jesus in the driver’s seat looks good with safety signs that read ‘do not murder,’ ‘do not commit adultery’ and ‘do not steal,’ but then someone cuts you off on the highway detouring you to hatred, you see someone attractive detouring you to lust or you scroll mindlessly while on the clock at work while claiming to have worked a full shift deserving of full pay detouring you to stealing.

God’s Ten Commandments are not always the words you want to hear. God gave the Ten Commandments like a father gives rules. God allowed Israel to be born as a free nation, then he gave them laws to remind them of their greater need for deliverance from sin. God is your Father in heaven who gave you his Ten Commandments.

In one sense, the Ten Commandments are a gift. In a concise way, they answer why you have guilty feelings and are not feeling fulfilled by a certain habit, thought, word, action, relationship, mindset, cause, etc. They are the objective, unbiased truth by which all people are held accountable by God. They answer, “Why is the world broken?” with “because our sinful hearts go against our God, our Creator, our Father in heaven’s commands.” They show you that someone else needs to deliver you from your sins.

Jesus is the “who” that delivered us from breaking the Ten Commandments. By keeping all Ten Commandments, Jesus showed perfect love to God and his neighbor, but people did not always recognize Jesus’ actions as loving as we hear in our Gospel reading from John 2.

Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Temple because it was almost time for Passover, and 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”

Jesus showed how serious it was for the people to have turned the Temple into a market substituting wealth for worship. Then we read, 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Jesus’ love for God and for the people to be able to worship at the Temple prompted his immediate action like a loving father quickly springs to action to stop his children from a harmful behavior. Continuing in John 2, we read, 18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

Their words are just like ours when we ask, “What gives you the right to say that our priorities are mixed up, that our religion, our way of life, our way of doing things, etc. is wrong?” Then, 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”

The reaction of the crowd was a mix of mocking, confusion, suspicion, anger, rebellion and sin, which Jesus used to their advantage and ours. In a way that ironically fulfilled their request for a sign, Jesus used the Jews and Gentiles’ captivity to sin to be condemned to crucifixion and death. Then, three days later Jesus rose, revealing his absolute authority as God to do what he judges as right.

It is this message we preach as did Paul which we heard in our New Testament reading from 1 Corinthians 1, 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Christ Jesus’ crucifixion delivered you from captivity to sin. One purpose of the Ten Commandments is to point out your sin so that you run back to deliverance through Christ.

The other purpose of the Ten Commandments is to see how to live as a delivered citizen of heaven on earth. God often worked through Moses to speak to Israel; Moses was God’s mediator or representative to his people. Today, we function in a similar way. In the past, Moses pointed Israel to the Lord’s deliverance from Egypt. Today, we point to the deliverance through Christ.

So, men, my brothers in Christ and all of you fathers point others to Christ, especially your family. And, women, my sisters in Christ and all of you mothers point others to Christ while following men, father’s and pastors who act like Moses, and when they do not help them. And, men, my brothers and fathers, when the women in your life respectfully point out your sin and point you to the deliverance of Christ, listen to them, repent and return to serving them in the power and wisdom of God.

Children, listen to your mom and dad, your aunts and uncles in Christ and your pastor when they tell you about Jesus. One practical way for all of you to do this is by using Luther’s Small Catechism. You can use it to teach one another how God delivered you from captivity to sin and how to live as his people using the Ten Commandments as a guide.

Use the section on the Apostles’ Creed to teach God’s greater deliverance from captivity to sin, death and hell through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Then, use the section on the Ten Commandments to teach Christian living showing what God is protecting and how keeping them keeps the greatest command to love God and others.

The long car ride captivity ends when you arrive at the destination, but then there are more words like “Put on sunscreen,” “Wash your hands,” and “Say, ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’” These new words are not meant to keep you captive, but free you to enjoy the destination.

After their long captivity in Egypt, God gave Israel the Ten Commandments to keep and enjoy life as God’s special people, but they broke them and so do we. God sent Jesus to live by the Ten Commandments perfectly and offer his perfect life for our sins on the cross to save us. Until you reach heaven follow the Ten Commandments filled with thanksgiving and love because the Lord brought you out of captivity to follow him. Amen.

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