Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Sermon on Luke 24:44-53, for Ascension Day, "The Joyous Farewell"
1. What is it that makes farewells with a loved one so tearful and emotional? The distance, separation, longing to see them, time away. Contrast to Jesus’ farewell. Worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. What made this different?
2. 1) Jesus has promised that He is not “absent” from us. 2) Jesus has been exalted to His rightful position of honor and glory—a joyful “well-done” to His divine rescue mission here on earth. 3) Jesus left us with an important purpose, with much still to do!
3. Matthew 28:20b, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” How? In various ways: His Word spoken to us, John 14:23, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Jesus remains in us if we remain in His love and love one another. He will make His home or dwelling with us. Is it also possible to drive out Christ and His Spirit? 1 John 3:8 tells that “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil”, and goes on to say (v.10) that whoever hates his brother is not of God, and in v. 17 questions how God’s love can remain in a person who “closes his heart” to his brother who is in need. Jesus remains with those who keep “his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us” (1 John 3:23).
4. How else is He with us? In baptism we are “clothed with Christ”, buried with Him into His death and resurrection. In the Lord’s Supper He says, “Do this in remembrance of me.” And Paul tells us that 1 Cor. 11:26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Remembering is not just a mental activity, but tied to the very action where we commune in His true body and blood, and proclaim His death until He comes.
5. Present in His Holy Spirit: John 16:7-15 “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” All of Jesus’ teachings would be recalled and continue to be taught through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Not a creator of new and different teachings, but all that Jesus had said and given from the Father.
6. Second reason for our joy: Jesus’ exaltation to the rightful place of honor: Psalm 47:5-6 “God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!” Psalm 110:1 “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’” Eph. 4:8, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” Jesus was rewarded for successfully accomplishing His rescue mission on earth, for His innocent suffering and death. God exalted (raised Him up) to the highest place and gave Him the name at which every knee shall bow.
7. Final reason for the joy of the disciples, the joyful farewell—Jesus left them with an important mission and purpose! Matt. 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Luke 24:47, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” There is a world out there to reach for Christ! We continue that great mission and purpose today, to make disciples of all nations, to bear witness of Jesus to the ends of the earth. Joyful farewell, because we know He will return one day. He is present with us, by Spirit, Word, and Sacrament. Rightful honor for us to praise and celebrate. His mission will continue till He returns, and we will ascend together with Him one day.