Sunday, May 05, 2013

Sermon for 5/5/13--Sixth Sunday of Easter



The Victory

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

Most of the time, when Jesus is talking, the disciples say, “We don't know what He is saying.” Now He tells them that He's speaking in proverbs, but the hour is coming when He will speak plainly to them. He's going away to the Father and they can ask anything in His name. That’s when they say, “Now we know you're speaking plainly!” They behave as if they have it all figured it out. Well, it does sound clear, doesn't it? Jesus said we can ask anything in His name. All right! "Dear Lord, please give me a winning lottery ticket!" But then Jesus goes on. “You're all going to fall away and leave me alone.” This is the heart of the matter: We think we understand God, but then the bottom falls out and we wonder why God doesn't do what we want Him to.  What Jesus says won't make sense until He suffers, dies, and rises again—not to them, nor to us. We're not going to understand anything about Jesus until we realize that the true work of God is our salvation.

Jesus says, "You will have trouble in this world. But take heart: I have overcome the world." There are the simple words that demolish every false notion we have about this world and how it's going. There are no "good ol' days." This world has been under the curse of sin since Adam's fall. But there is Jesus. There is a God who overcomes the world. Now think about this carefully: the same Jesus who told us to ask for anything in His name also asks His Father to remove the cup of suffering. So what does it mean that the Father doesn't take it away? What does that say about the things for which we ask? Jesus doesn't overcome because He gets what He wants; He overcomes because He does what the Father wants. He overcomes the world by being the Lamb of God who comes into this world and suffers at the hands of sinners and redeems this world with His blood. Jesus doesn't overcome the world the way we think it should be overcome: the bad stuff doesn't stop happening. Rather, Jesus overcomes the world by taking the bad stuff and doing something good with it. What could be worse than God dying? But by His death, Jesus gets rid of our sin and turns His suffering and death into the way of our salvation. And then He rises as proof that He really has overcome this world.

When our Lord lays it out, there is a real promise. "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart; be of good cheer. I have overcome the world." There is our Christian faith and life. In this world we have trouble. But our Lord has overcome the world. There is no trouble in this world which can take you down. Jesus has overcome the world. We know we’re going to have trouble—all kinds of it: personal, physical, spiritual, mental. Look at your life and you will find plenty of trouble. So the question is this: How can we be sure our troubles don’t ultimately matter? How can we be sure that we will overcome them with Jesus? The answer is that you don’t look at the troubles! If you’re sick, for example, with something that will kill you, you don’t say you’ve overcome it when you get better or that you haven’t overcome it if you don’t. Rather, you say that Jesus has overcome it by dying and rising for sinners, to give you eternal life. The proof of that is your baptism. No matter what trouble you’ve got going on in this world, your Baptism says Jesus has overcome the world for you. That’s what Holy Absolution means and what the preaching of Christ’s cross is about and what the Lord’s Supper promises. Jesus has overcome the world—for you. Those gifts prove that it’s true.

And so what about that praying stuff? Go ahead and ask away—but not for lottery tickets. Is your world so small? Instead, ask for the victory of Jesus to be yours. Ask that it may so fully rescue you from the troubles of this life that you never lose your joy. Ask in Jesus’ name, and the Father will give you all good things. Sure, you’re going to have trouble in this world. But take heart; Jesus has overcome the world. That’s not just a nice way of saying, “Butch up, sissypants!” Instead, it’s a promise that when you have those troubles, you’ve already won because Jesus has already won. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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

No comments: