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Sermon for Easter 5

Augustana, 2011

38 Sermon for Easter 5.mp3

Note: Adapted from a sermon in Concordia Pulpit Resources, 2011.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Out text is the Gospel reading for today.  It is Holy Thursday, the disciples’ last night with Jesus.  From John 13 we know that they had every reason to have troubled hearts.  They were suddenly facing terrible difficulties.  They had just heard that someone in their own midst was going to betray Jesus (13:21), that they would no longer be able to go where Jesus was going (13:33), and that Peter himself was going to deny the Lord three times (13:38).  Everything they’re hearing is leading to Jesus’ death the very next day on the cross.  And yet in our reading for this morning, they realize the good news that, rather than a reason to despair, the cross of Jesus Christ comforts troubled hearts with the promises, assurances, and benefits of our great God.

Christ Jesus comforts our troubled hearts by pointing us back to the powerful Word of God.  A troubled heart is instantly strengthened by the strength of God’s Word.  hears the good news of the cross and is overwhelmed by its comfort.  Jesus encourages us, some would say commands us to have faith, but I think this is less a command as much as it is a reminder to “believe in God; believe also in Me.”  Hear your Lord saying that to you today.  “Believe in God; believe also in Me.”  This is the power of God’s Word to be encouraged by Jesus Christ Himself.  The comforting word of Jesus is the light that shines out in the darkness.  It is the word that brings forth Lazarus from the tomb.  It is the Word that created faith in You when the Lord Jesus called you by name in Holy Baptism.  Dear Christian friends, be comforted that you have the clear Word of God and need not fear anything.

Christ Jesus comforts our troubled hearts by pointing us back to God and His promises to us, those great promises proved by His cross.  A troubled heart hears the good news of the cross and is amazed at the promise of what God has in store for us.  Jesus promises to prepare “rooms” in His Father’s house.  Many of you are familiar with the King James “mansions” here.  “In my father’s house there are many mansions.”  I know many of you watch the television show, Extreme Home Makeover.  I know how teary-eyed you get when the family walks back into the house after being gone for a week and walk into their dream home, complete with any comforts that help the family to overcome the difficulties they face in this life.  But oh, how much greater the room in your Father’s house, Jesus has gone to prepare for you!  And the most amazing part is that Jesus promised He was coming back and would personally take us to our eternal inheritance.  But always remember when it was that Jesus said your room was now prepared.  It was when He said from the cross, “It is finished.” (19:30), because it was at the cross that Jesus paid for all your sin, the sin that would have prevented you from inheriting your heavenly room.  Christ Jesus comforts our troubled hearts by pointing us back to God and His promises to us, those great promises proved by His cross.

Jesus Christ comforts our troubled hearts by assuring us that He is the way, the truth, and the life, all of which is verified through the cross.  Jesus said, “you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Poor Thomas, right?  Thomas is thinking of Google Map directions, or at least Hickory landmark directions, do you know where the Texaco used to be?  But more to the point Thomas wants to see this way in purely human terms and this is a revelation of his condition, of our condition.  Too often we do not accept the way in which God appears.  Jesus is weak and suffering on the cross and yet we think that Christians should never suffer.  We believe that superfaith should turn us into something more along the lines of a Christian super hero so much so that we don’t even like to see the picture of our Lord suffering for us on the cross, but prefer a naked cross, one stripped of Jesus body, “because He is raised,” we say.  True, Christ is risen.  But I think there is more than just the inconvenience of coming to church on Good Friday that keeps even Christians away.  It is embarrassing to us to be confronted with the arduous suffering our Lord endured on the cross in our place.  Instead we too often believe ourselves to be not all that bad and would prefer not to be reminded of the need of our need for Good Friday.  This carries over into the life of faith too because we don’t accept “the way” of Jesus hiding in the water of Holy Baptism and in, with, and under the simple bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper.  Surely, we have to do something so then it must be about our faith and the strength of our faith.  But what about the faith of the weakest among us, the most vulnerable—the unborn, the mentally disabled.  God has a different plan for them, we are convinced and so we don’t look to where Jesus has put His promise but instead make up another promise.  No, dear friends, the weakest among us are saved by the Word and by the water.  You are not saved by the faith you have manufactured.  You are saved by the faith the Holy Spirit gave you and that was by grace and by works lest any man should boast.  And Finally we don’t accept the way of our own cross, the way of suffering handed to us as we follow after Christ.  There are those Christians out there who see everything in this life as moving form victory to victory.  Their services are upbeat.  They almost make you feel bad for feeling bad.  Those churches don’t have Good Friday services.  Good Friday and the cross of Jesus are means to the glorious end.  Which is true, but they don’t seem to live in this world.  Doctor Luther was wise to say that there are two kinds of theologians—theologians of glory and theologians of the cross.  A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil.  A theologian of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.  That cancer that you have, say the theologians of glory, that is not a terrible thing, they say; it is a gift from God so that you can witness to people in the chemo chairs.  No, we say.  Cancer is a terrible often painful, disease that wastes the body and sometimes breaks down the spirit too.  It has come not from God as a gift, though God can work through it to bring you closer to Him, but rather it is the chastisement for sin, and the result of the effects of sin in this sin-twisted world.  Jesus alone provides the healing you need and you may not get it on this side of heaven.  But dear friend you will get that healing.  Jesus has promised.  Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.  No, we often don’t accept the that Jesus power is revealed in weakness at the cross, that He promises to be in water, bread, and wine, and that our way might be one of suffering too.  Jesus Christ comforts our troubled hearts by assuring us that He is the way, the truth, and the life, all of which is verified through the cross.

The way of Jesus is in His cross.  At His cross, Jesus became the embodiment of the way, the truth and the life for our eternal salvation.  Jesus is the only way because His cross is the only means to remove the sin that separates us from God the Father.  Jesus is the only truth because at the cross Jesus reveals the truth of God’s love for His fallen people.  Jesus is the only life because it is only through His death that we can find real life, life everlasting.

Many of you know that I’ve traveled to many places around the world.  One of the most terrifying places I’ve ever been is Japan because I can’t read a single sign.  Travelers need to be able to makes sense of the signs to find our way.  If we follow the signs we can make it to the tourist information office and the hotel and food.  Luckily I found someone who could show me the way.  This is what Jesus does.  He shows us that the way is the way of the cross.

In Jesus Christ we that the way, the truth and the life are all tested and proved to be true in the cross.  This is how Jesus works in the Divine Service.  What do we say after we have dined from His table, “My eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared” (Lk 2:30-310.  Philip’s request is now granted: we see Christ.  We see God Himself!  We taste and drink His blood in order that we might taste for ourselves His greatest work, the cross, where He shed His blood for us.

Jesus comforts troubled hearts through His benefits from the cross of witness and prayer.  The first benefits of Jesus cross is that we will do even greater works than Christ did.  Through the witness of the Church, in the lives of hundreds of millions of Christians around the world, more people than ever before are being reached with the message of the cross of Jesus Christ.  The second benefit from the cross is the promise of answered prayer.  This is not for our fleshly desires, ass Doctor Luther tells us but to teach us faith.  “Thus our prayer must, in real and sincere humility, take no account of ourselves; it must rely solely and confidently on the promise of grace, in the firm trust that God will hear us, as He has commanded us to pray and has promised to hear us.” (AE 24:88)

Through the blood that flowed from the side of Christ’s on the cross, Jesus is the way; through the Scriptures, which testify that Jesus is the propitiation, the blood payment for the sins of the world (1Jn 2:2), Jesus is the truth; and through His taking our sin (2Cor 5:21) and our curse (Gal 3:13), Jesus is the life.  What comfort for our troubled hearts.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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