Saturday, May 25, 2019

Easter 6

Easter 6
26 May 2019

John 16:23–33 

Collect for the Sixth Sunday of Easter: O God, the giver of all that is good, by Your holy inspiration grant that we may think those things that are right and by Your merciful guiding accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Tribulation and Peace. BOTH are guaranteed.  We live in a dark and sinful world. Circumstances and factors beyond our control can bring us low. 

There is the trouble that comes simply from living in a fallen world. Things don’t work right. Cars break down. Nature doesn’t work right. We experience tornadoes and hail damage and flooding. Economic decisions, way above our heads, and beyond our control, cost us money. Or, more directly, thieves break in and steal our stuff.

There’s emotional hurt, too. People don’t always do the right thing. They do things that hurt us, whether directly or indirectly. People we care about betray us and break our hearts. People we love–we see them suffering, and we suffer, too. We lose the people we love, whether to death or to distance, and we miss them. All these are troubles we face simply by living in a fallen world, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or not. You’ve got your troubles; I’ve got mine. But the point is, we’ve all got them, in one form or another. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. Nobody knows but Jesus.”

“Tribulation” is just another word for “trouble.” Tribulation is guaranteed. But also, peace is guaranteed. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.” Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” 

Likewise, earlier in this same discourse, Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

But what is truly at the root prohibiting and reducing our rejoicing is our sin. And to break the bondage of sin Jesus has promised to come. Jesus is for those who feel bad. They look to their lives and see failure. Their sins rise up against them in a flood of accusations. Jesus has come for people whose faith is battered and weak. He has come for those who are bothered and beaten by their sin. He comes for those who are pathetic and feeble in faith.

To these people comes the Christ of Bethlehem. He gives them what they need. He is not content to make them "feel" good. Soothing words are not His to give. Sentimental nonsense never comes from His lips.  He is a real Savior. Who saves real sinners. He didn't come into this world to be venerated or adored. He came to us to be abandoned. He was born to die. Not a noble death. Applauded by the religious. But a death of loneliness. Engulfed in scorn and shame. And that miserable death saved you.  For it was your sin which He took, away. 

What then, are we to do? – Rejoice – Under all kinds of circumstances. – Even in the midst of suffering. The reason for your rejoicing is that you focus on the Lord Jesus.

You have the peace and presence of God, which sustains you regardless of circumstance. Not the peace of mind.  Not the peace of the heart. Not the peace of men. But the people of God. This divine peace, this peace of God, passes all understanding. And keeps the heart and mind focused on Christ. Surely, this is good reason for you to rejoice.  “Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)  

In this world, you will have trouble. Our troubles are the backdrop for prayer. We come to the Lord daily addressing Him according to our need. In prayer, we take our burdens joys and cares to the Lord as He answers each petition according to our need. Jesus assures us, “Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete.” Context is important here. This is Maundy Thursday. Right before Jesus went to the cross. Where/what, is this joy? It is the cross, the resurrection, receiving what you need in Jesus' name.

The common reaction to a loved one’s leaving is sorrow and despair. Yet this was not the case with Jesus’ disciples. Before He ascended, Jesus told them they ought to be glad He was leaving. After His ascension, the disciples return to Jerusalem “with great joy.” “Your risen and ascended Lord departed our sight, that he might return to our hearts and find him there. For He departed, and behold He is here.” –St. Augustine

Remember. We are Easter people. “Jesus’ resurrection from the grave is more than a confirmation of the fact that there is life after death. It is not part of an inevitable cycle - of life to death and then back again to life. Jesus is raised from the dead without the sins He took to the cross; they are left buried forever. Put to death for our trespasses and raise again for our justification, Jesus’ resurrection announces and declares that your sins are forgiven. 

Only Jesus’ forgiveness, won at Calvary in His dying, holds power over death. Where there is no forgiveness of sins, death remains lord. But where Jesus forgives sin, death is toppled from the throne. Death no longer can hold sinners in its iron grip. 

Easter gives us a sure and certain word: Jesus died for your sins. God has raised Him from the dead. The grave cannot hold Him and neither will it be able to keep those who are His. You need not worry about a death with dignity for you have the forgiveness of sins. It is a word that gives life to the dead, and it is for you. ”  -  Mercy at Life’s End A Guide for Laity and Their Pastors John Pless  pp.7-8 © 2013 The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, St. Louis 

Jesus has said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” This peace; the peace of Christ, is His gift to you.  Risen and Ascended - Jesus lives and reigns as King throughout all eternity. This gift of God in Jesus Christ is genuine. It is a peace, which can never be undone.  His peace is personal. It becomes personal because it is independent of and unaffected by any outward circumstance. These outward circumstances may remain unchanged, but with St. Paul we can say, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

Words –1,150
Passive Sentences –7%
Readability – 84%
Reading Level – 3.9

-Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts, ‘The Resurrection of our Lord’ © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

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