Acts 9: 1-20
Revelations 5: 11-14
John 21: 1-14
“Jesus Is Here”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
As we begin each Sunday morning during this season of Easter with proclamations of “He is Risen” and “He is Risen indeed” let us understand that by proclaiming that Jesus is Risen we are also proclaiming that He is Alive, and if he is alive and risen we also acknowledge that he who is God is also here with us.
One atrocious belief I have fought against, and so too every single legitimate Lutheran pastor is the pernicious insistence that if Christ is in Heaven then he is not also here with us. Basically, to claim that Christ is physically alive in Heaven is to also claim that Christ is not physically present here and vice versa. How can such people believe that? Well, from their view, logically a human body cannot be in two places at once. That is their only rationally sound argument, but such a belief flies in the face Jesus is not only wholly human but also wholly God. Are you claiming that the finite nature of humanity is more powerful than the infinite nature of divinity? Because if you believe that Christ can’t be in two places at once due to his human nature than you are claiming that humanity is more powerful than God. No?
So let me ask this which is more powerful, the finite limited power of humanity or the infinite unlimited power of God? Next let
me ask this, is not Jesus 100% human and 100% God? And now let me conclude my questions with this final one, does the finite human nature of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, King of the Universe, limit and thus lessen his infinite divine nature? The answer to the last is it does not.
Yet there are people who are wholly convinced that if Christ is in heaven then his humanity prevents him from being physically present here on earth as well. Such a believe rids Jesus of his Godliness, for might as well count Jesus among the mere humans who are indeed in heaven if he can’t act upon his unlimited divine nature. To such people I ask this, can people raise the dead by their own power? The obvious answer is no. So how did Jesus raise Lazarus? God the Father didn’t raise Lazarus, Jesus who is God, commanded Lazarus to be raised. If humans can’t raise the dead because of their finite nature then how did Jesus who is wholly human raise Lazarus? If you claim He raised Lazarus on account of his divine nature as oppose to his human nature than that would mean his divine infinite nature is not limited by his humanity. Thus, the entire argument used to explain why Jesus can’t be physically present in two places at once falls apart. Jesus is God, and we know for a fact that Jesus is indeed here.
There is a theory that was once quite popular in the past, it was the belief that God was like a clockmaker who made earth, wound it up, and then left it behind. Such a theory is so lacking and void of hope and love. To believe that God has abandoned us and leaves us to our own sinfulness is such a despairing mindset. How would you feel if you were being attacked for your faith and held on to belief that God has left us to our own devices? I would
feel empty and alone. If God is not with me then what is the point? But if I am being attacked and I know that my Savior lives and not only is alive by walks beside me through all of my troubles than I can face whatever fiery darts Satan flings my way. To believe that Jesus can’t be with us physically is no different than the clockmaker theory, for both teach of a God who abandons thus leading to despair.
But Jesus does not abandon us. Do you think that the one who came to save the whole world from itself would let the world crumble away? Do you think that Jesus would sacrifice his life through the most painful for of death which is to knowingly carry all of the world’s sin only to allow us to fall back into sin? Do you think that Jesus would belittle His entire mission and all the suffering he went through all for the sake of saving us only to so to us, “you’re on your own now”? Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins because we cannot save ourselves. He loved us so much that despite our constant disobedience he still gave himself over and went to Hell so that we would not.
If Jesus died to save us from our sins because we are woefully sinful, do you think he would really leave us alone to our own devices? God is too wise and intelligent to believe that through the death and resurrection of Christ we do not need Christ constantly in our lives. He is too wise to trust us to be alone with this gracious gift he bled to give us; for though we are saved through the precious blood of Christ, we are still sinners, and it is because we are still sinners that we are in constant need of Christ in our lives.
One other thing you may have heard about Christians is that we have a personal relationship with Jesus our Savior. No other religion has that, but that is because all other religions are fakes. How can you have a personal religion with a God that doesn’t exist? But because our God does exist we have a personal relationship with him for through faith in Him and all His promises we are adopted into his family, heirs to His Kingdom. But I ask, if Jesus can’t be physically present on Earth post ascension, then how can you have a legitimate closes relationship with Him? You can’t. But because we believe that Jesus is indeed here, truly here we do have a close relationship.
A note about our relationship with Jesus before I continue; if after his ascension Jesus remains in Heaven then from the perspective of our relationship with Him there is no difference between him being in Hell or Heaven for both denotes a separation between us and Jesus. For whether he is in Heaven or Hell, if he remains then He has abandoned us.
But we know this to be false for we have multiple examples that prove Jesus does not abandon us. After He rose he visited the disciples multiple times, seeming to appear and disappear. It’s almost like he’s God! Today’s Gospel is the third time He presented Himself to the Disciples post death. Then after the ascension He presented Himself to Saul, the enemy of Christianity, the disciple’s biggest threat, the arbiter of violence against the apostles. Jesus presented himself to Saul in such a way that Saul was blinded, only to be healed by a disciple of Jesus. Through this presentation Saul transformed from the chief enemy to Paul, the chief defender of the faith. Paul is a perfect
example of how Jesus does not abandon us. We have also heard countless stories throughout all of history after Jesus’ ascension of Him visiting people. None should be discounted on the mere basis that Jesus can’t do this, but instead all be used as evidence proving that Jesus has not abandoned us.
And last, probably the most obvious proof that tells us that Jesus is indeed here, in fact he is physically present here in this room, is through the Communion elements. Do we not believe as Jesus commands, that the bread is his body and the wine is his blood? We do, thus every time we have communion then we know for a fact that Jesus is indeed here, that he has not abandoned us, but that his physical presences is among us. And to those who weary over life and want Jesus to be more present I ask to have faith that every time you consume the bread and wine of Communion Jesus abides in you physically. And if you are still weary, then I ask that we as a community, in light of Jesus who tells us to consume the elements as often as we can and even describes himself as the daily bread, to increase the frequency we allow Jesus to be physically present in our lives.
The Lord knows that we are in constant need of him. Because we are still sinners, in order to maintain our faith in Him we need his constant presence in our lives. Communion was given not only as a foretaste of the feast to come but also as a remembrance that Jesus never abandoned us. The mere fact that Communion exists dispels the gloomy notion that now that Jesus is in Heaven he will stay in heaven. As we allow Jesus into our bodies let us not forget the reason why we need Jesus, which is the very fact that he is the source of salvation, forgiveness, and
life itself. As sinners, we are in constant need of salvation, forgiveness of sins, and life itself. We are in constant need of God in our lives, for without Him we will surely fail and abandon his gifts that he has so graciously given us. So if we are in constant need of God in our lives and salvation, forgiveness, and life which comes only from Him, then what better way to receive him then physically?
Thus, in the end, not only do we claim that Jesus has Risen, not only do we claim that Jesus is Alive, but we also claim that Jesus is Here.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, as we partake in the Eucharist remind us that you will never abandon us but will always be ready to provide us with your amazing grace. In your holy name we pray; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.