Sermon 5/18/22 "Baptize All Nations" by: Pastor Chris Boyd
Acts 10: 24-27, 34-48
Revelations 21: 1-5
John 13: 31-35
“Baptize All Nations”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Within the universal church, there is a divine revelation that all Christians will at one point struggle with and that is the concept of Original Sin. Especially in today’s age when people have a visceral reaction to the very mention of sin, as increasingly all actions should be deemed permissible according to the culture. The core of the struggle is simple, for Origin Sin is the concept that we are all born already damned to Hell. Who in their right mind would damn an innocent child who from our perspective has done absolutely nothing wrong to eternal suffering? No one, yet according to Scripture we are not born saved, and that causes many great discomfort.
I have talked to many well-meaning people and in my youth have been talked to myself as one such well-meaning person about the horrifying yet deeply Christian, I say foundationally Christian, belief that because of Original Sin we are all born automatically sinful and because God cannot have any sin within Him that would mean we are all born automatically damned to Hell. In my youth I said how can God be so evil, to not allow humans to be born automatically good? In my well-meaning, good intention filled heart, I truly wanted to believe that humans are born good. But I was naïve. I was a product of humanism and
secularism. I listened to human emotions rather than divine Scripture.
How often I have met a Christian who didn’t understand the full depth of what it meant to be born a sinner. How often I have met a Christian who was so enslaved by their own emotions that they abandoned Scripture. How often I have met a Christian whose love for humanity was so great that their love for God became faulty.
I say this because if we were born good then why did Christ come to save us? When Christ came, he did so because not one person was ever truly good. All have failed God. Christ came and died on the cross not to condemn us but to save us… save us
because we were all already condemned; each and every one of us. I understand no one wants to say a baby is conceived already a sinner, but according to Psalm 51, we are, for it reads, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
We are conceived as sinners, and this is a tragedy that we need to acknowledge, not to but people down, but lift all nations up.
If I am good then I don’t need Christ, but because all are born evil, slaves to Satan, all are in desperate need of Christ in their lives. And by all, I mean royal “All”. This is why Christ commands us to baptize all nations, because there does not exist one person who does not need Christ, and there is no point in our life when we do not need Christ. The pioneer in Alaska is just as in need of Christ as the mother in Africa. The politician is just as in need as the electrician. An enemy Soldier is just as in need as the paraplegic veteran. The hospice patient is just as in need as the
infant babe. All are in need and will always be in need, from conception to death, of the amazing saving grace which comes from Jesus Christ alone.
But to the one who is concerned over the salvation of their grandparent or loved one or child there is hope. For we profess that through Baptism the Holy Spirit enters into us and provides for us the one thing that we lacked at conception, the one and
only thing that supersedes our sinfulness, and that is faith in Jesus Christ. In our Baptism we all know that we have indeed been adopted into the Family of God, that God has indeed placed his seal upon our foreheads, and that the seed of faith which no human can cultivate was planted into us via the Holy Spirit. This is what it means to be baptized.
And to those who are the source of our deep concern, let it be known that there are no qualifications that needs to be met for someone to be baptized. You don’t need to be a rational thinker to be baptized. You don’t need to be a good person to be baptized. You don’t need to be wise to baptized. Nor believe in God to be baptized. The gift of baptism is granted unconditionally for God does not desire a select group of individuals to be baptized; He wants all nations to be baptized. And it is through Baptism that the Holy Spirit provides for you faith, hope, and love in Jesus Christ and the knowledge of God.
Now many well-meaning people in their struggle with Original Sin may be led to claiming that all are born good and eventually learn evil. But I say stop running away from the Bible and instead use the tragedy and horror of the fallen human
condition to enflame that compassion I know you all have for humanity. And let that compassion, guided by the Holy Spirit, lead you to following the Great Commission, to teach, preach, and baptize. If we see an infant child, instead of avoiding the problem of Original Sin by claiming the child doesn’t need Christ because they are already good, let us be compelled to realize that if said child was baptized then the Holy Spirit will enter into them and God the Father will look upon the child the same way He looks upon all his adopted children.
Now, as a caveat, I understand there are those who never had the opportunity to be baptized, what about them? To that question I ask were the Jews who died before Jesus truly abandoned by God? No, for right after Jesus died Scripture tells us that the Saints rose from the grave. Because of this I say this, God does not withhold his grace and mercy from those who die due to miscarriage. I say this because I have met several people who truly believed in Original Sin and after a miscarriage was distraught because they never had the opportunity to baptize their child. They were so filled with grief as they cried over the possibility that their child was in Hell. No, your child is not in Hell. I congratulate you for your compassion and love, as well as your faith which God has blessed you with. I praise God for your love toward your unborn child, toward your acknowledging the fallen human condition, and the absolute need for Baptism which would have provided faith for your child. To you I say be free from your shame and be free from your despair for your child is with God.
It is this type of love that I wish all Christians to have; to have so much compassion in their hearts that they both despair over the unbaptized and desire quick baptism for all nations.
And once baptized, some hope from Romans 8, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Once Baptized always Baptized, for nothing on earth or in heaven or in hell can null and void the union granted to you through the power of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
This is the love Peter had for Cornelius and his entire family. Cornelius, a centurion and the Italian Cohort which would mean he would have been a commander for as many as 1000 Soldiers, was a devout gentile believer who feared God and was loved by the whole Jewish nation. After an angel of the Lord visited Cornelius, ordering Him to send for Peter, Cornelius, a Soldier, did as he was commanded. In preparation for Peter, Cornelius gathered his entire household, relatives, and friends. Being a high ranking Soldier, I imagine he was quite effective at gathering a large crowd. And if he did this, then it would be obvious that there would have been present infants and the elderly. So when Peter and some other apostles arrived and spoke the good news to them imagine the shock on Peter and his fellow apostles’ faces
when they saw the Holy Spirit rest on every single individual whom Cornelius gathered.
Originally Peter wasn’t going to offer them baptism, for he didn’t want to mingle with Gentiles. It was only at the insistence of God that Peter went to speak to the Gentiles. And upon seeing the Holy Spirit rest upon every single Gentile person present, did Peter realize that the Baptism is truly for all nations, thus he commanded them all to be baptized. So on that day Peter baptized not only Cornelius, but his entire household, his relatives, and his friends, which undoubtedly would have led to the inclusion of also their households.
So it doesn’t matter, Gentile or Jew, Male or Female, Black or White, Rich or Poor, Infant or Elder… baptism is for all nations.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, we praise you for allowing us to join your holy family through baptism and ask that you daily work within us so that we continue to cherish and trust in the promised fulfilled through this holy sacrament, desiring all nations to experience this comfort and to be filled with faith. In your holy name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sermon 5/08/22 "A Holy Family" by: Pastor Chris Boyd
Acts 13: 15-16a, 26-33
Revelations 7: 9-17
John 10: 22-30
“A Holy Family”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
How many of you have a memory of being separated from your family? You are with them one moment and the next all of a sudden they are missing. You are in a shopping center and a toy catches your attention. You examine it as your parents turn into the next isle. You look up and they are gone. You look around and might start yelling for your mom. You hear voices around you and none of them are familiar until you hear one voice behind you that you do recognize, your mother’s.
In today’s Gospel we read, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me,” and, “no one will snatch them out of my hand.” We are all children of God, and at times we may find ourselves in a situation where we feel that God is gone. We become like the child who yells for mom, or in dire situations like a Soldier who is dying on the battlefield asking for their mothers. If lost we know where to find comfort. The comfort we find in God is like the comfort a babe finds when it rests its head on their mother’s breast. When separated there is much anxiety. Now we know that we who are in the family of God through our baptism are never truly separated from God, but that does not mean we don’t feel at times anxiety believing that God has abandoned us. So we yell for God and like the mother in my example, God does speak to us. As we listen to the world we may not catch God’s
voice reaching out to us initially, but eventually we do hear God’s voice. And when we hear His voice, it is easy to distinguish it from all other voices for we are his sheep and he our shepherd, we hear his voice and not only do we know it but we find comfort in it.
And this comfort we feel, it is indistinguishable. It gives us strength, the knowledge to know that we are not alone and that through God all things are possible. It gives us hope, as we realize the great promise provided by God who not only keeps his promises but has already fulfilled them. It gives us warmth and lightens our load and eases our yoke, as we have faith that Jesus Christ has this in his hands.
So many people claim that sheep are dumb, and whereas that is kind of true, they are more animals that extreme faith in their shepherds. Some sheep have bad shepherds and they are led astray or are abandoned, but we have a Good Shepherd… no, the Good Shepherd… in whom we know will never abandon us nor lead us astray, and thus we can comfortably have faith in him to guide us, to love us, and to protect us.
But the comfort we feel goes even deeper, for God isn’t just our shepherd, but he is also our Father and our Brother. For to us God the Father is also our great father above who created us and knew us, who gave us life and a soul at conception. He is the source of all life and preserves it, and through baptism he is not some mere fatherly figure but is truly our great father for in baptism we are adopted into the family of God and have received the inheritance of Heaven as heirs to the Kingdom.
For to us God the Son is also our Brother who gave himself on the cross so we would not suffer the consequences of our sins, and through his death and resurrection we too in our baptism die in his death but are resurrected in his resurrection. Christ is our King and our Lord, but he is also our Brother and thus with him we too are princes waiting to receive our inheritance in heaven.
For to us God the Holy Spirit is the one who makes this all possible for without the Spirit who is the source of our faith we would not consider ourselves brothers and sons of God but would turn away from the kingdom, leaving the family, leaving the sheep fold.
We are a holy family; brothers and sisters too each other because Christ who unifies us is the Brother of all who worship him and have faith and hope in his salvation. And our family is vast. It is a great multitude that no one can number. It is a family that stretches from every nation and age; a family that together worships Christ in washed robes made white in the blood of the Lamb who sits on the throne as our shepherd. We are a part of that holy family.
So there is much comfort for us, us who are members of this holy family and sheep whose shepherd is truly good. And where does our comfort come from? It comes from the voice of God.
Now back to the image I provided in the beginning of this sermon, of a child yelling for mom. Now we all know that if a scared child is going to yell for a parent most likely the one they will yell for is mom. The same applies for a scared Soldiers is
about to die, between their parents the one they yell for is their mother. And speaking of mothers it would be amiss of me if I didn’t speak about motherhood today of all days, Mother’s day.
Let me begin first by stating that God the Father is not our mother. To call him “God the Mother, when he explicitly told us to call him father is blasphemy. But He did create man and woman in his image, thus we can still look to him to understand what is a mother.
Now first and the most obvious, a mother is a woman who bears a child for the moment she conceives a baby she instantly receives the divine vocation of motherhood. But I am adopted, I have a biological father who gave me my genes and one who gave me his last name and raised me. Between the two the one who raised me is my father, and not the other. So if the same applies to a mother, what makes a mother? A mother cherishes their children, just like how Mary cherished the words of young Jesus in Luke 2. A mother goes through much agony for her children most especially during childbirth, but the pain is instantly washed away as they are overcome with joy upon seeing their child according to John 16. From the moment of conception a mother knows her child and will never forget them, Isaiah 49. And within a household the mother is the source of comfort, Isaiah 66.
There are more texts in Scripture that talk about
motherhood, and a massive chunk seem to come from Proverbs, so here are some more words of wisdom from God about motherhood. Proverbs 14:1, “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” 17: 25, “A
foolish son is… bitterness to her who bore him.” And all of chapter 31 is good, but here are verses 25-30, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
What makes a mother is her compassion, her love, and joy which she finds in motherhood. We find comfort in our mothers because we now that she cherishes us and loves us and ultimate finds joy in raising us. It is our mother whom we found comfort in while we were in her womb as she protected us and nourished us with her own body. Because we know that our mother selflessly gave herself up for us in the womb and while we were still infants we develop a bond that if shaken leads to much anxiety. We love her because she first loved us and was willing to suffer for us. No different from our relationship with Christ whom we love because he first loved us and was willing to sacrifice his own life for our sake.
It is always sad when a mother abandons her God-given vocation for selfishness, whether that is neglecting their duties or walking away from the household or murdering their child before birth; for motherhood begins at conception, and to break this bond is the opposite of what it means to be feminine or motherly or Christian. Still forgivable, but all the same a sad sinful state of
which the Devil seems to have succeeded in encouraging our nation to praise. For such creates great misery for the mother whose source of joy she has severed.
But likewise, it is equally tormenting when the one who severs such bonds comes from us their children. A foolish son is bitterness to their mothers, for seeing their son succeed brings them joy while seeing their son suffer, especially at their own hands, caused them great agony as they start questioning their parental skills and such. Whereas unexpected mothers need to obey the fifth commandment, we their child need to obey the fourth commandment.
So on this Mother’s day, let us obey the fourth by honoring our mothers, and letting all mothers know that they are honored for acting upon their devotion of motherhood. Let us be a source of joy for them by not only letting know we love them but by also doing good, in the same manner we are a source of joy for God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit when we pray and give praise to Him while also doing good.
Let us give thanks to God almighty for mothers,
Dear Heavenly Father, you have blessed the family and have provided to each a mother, for without such none of us would be here today. Help us to give the mothers in our lives the appreciation they need to find joy in motherhood. In your name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sermon 4/24/22 "I Am Sending You" By Pastor Chris Boyd
Acts 5: 12, 17-32
Revelations 1: 4-18
John 20: 19-31
“I Am Sending You”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
In our Gospel today, it is still the day of our Lord’s
Resurrection. Multiple of Jesus’ disciples have already witnessed the empty tomb; one of whom, Mary Magdalene, Jesus had already visited. And now it is evening. After witnessing this empty tomb, the disciples huddled into a room and locked the door for they became terrified of what the Jews might do to them, especially the high elders, now that news of the empty tomb was spreading, and fast. But there fear was quickly washed away as Jesus appeared before them stating once and then again, “Peace be with you.”
They became glad for they knew, after seeing his wounds, that this was indeed their Rabbi and Lord, not dead but truly alive. Any fear that they might have held on to went away as their minds were directed away from a potential attack from angry Jews and toward the amazing presence of Jesus who was right in front of them. With Jesus cemented in their hearts, with the knowledge that not even death could conquer him, nothing could hold a candle in their hearts to the joy and love and faith they felt in Jesus. No fear in anyone or anything, be it zealot or Pharisee, roman or king, courts or trial, or even death itself, nothing was capable of overcoming the joy they had in seeing Jesus.
And it is for this reason that I say it isn’t the fear of the Jews that traumatized the disciples, but fear of facing the Jews without Jesus by their side. Fear of abandonment was what gripped their hearts. They are like a demoralized army that finds out their king handed himself over to the enemy and was executed, or an army that finds out that their prince went into hiding. To those who
played sports, imagine what would happen to your team if your couch, after seeing the opposition, chooses to give up without even allowing the team to try. The disciples were like these examples, for the source of their courage, the one they placed their faith and hope in, the one whom they looked up to, was gone.
But with Christ present before them, the story changes; for they are instead like a little army who sees their king riding in battle before them. They are like a weak force infants to the heat of battle invigorated with shouts of Hoo-rah, as they see their mighty general slaying one enemy after another. They are like a sports team that just received a roaring speech from their couch, lighting a flame of hope in their bellies as they face a team that has never lost a match. They are like anyone who when faced with overwhelming odds against them face their titans head on for they have placed their faith in something higher. The fears the disciples faced didn’t go away because they found out the Jews no longer wished death upon them. Their fears were washed away because the King has returned. If the enemy was to take my life then so be it, for I know that my Lord lives, and my hope in him is stronger than any fear I once had.
They knew the Jews and the Romans didn’t give up on them. That troubling lot will eventually rear its ugly head and much death and suffering will come. This is most certainly true, and this is a fact that still remains. And it’s not like this was a fact that they forgot. Rather it was the fear that they forgot. For if Christ lives, and we live with him, then what do we have to fear. Yes, I might die, I fear not death, for through the risen Lord death has lost its sting. So with Christ in front of them, the disciples, fear has also lost its sting.
Then telling them, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you,” He also breathed on them the Holy Spirit. In Scripture, in every single account, Old and New Testament, whenever life is given it is through the Breathe of God. In Genesis God breathed life into Adam. With regards to the dry bones in the valley of death which represented Jerusalem, it is the breathe of God that breathed life into the bones. And for us, it is the breathe of God that brings us to life anew. When Jesus, who is God, breathed on the disciples he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” He was breathing the Holy Spirit on to them so that they would never forget this feeling of faith and hope they had in Jesus.
Yes, Jesus may not always be with them in the same manner he has been for the last three years, but he with never abandon them. He is with them, now and forever more. And it is the Holy Spirit that provides them with the knowledge and faith that as they go out, sent by God, they are not going away from God but are being sent by God who will always be with them. From that day forth, note that as the disciples went out into the world, sent by God, their lack of fear. No longer did they fear the
shame trials. No longer did they fear threat of death. No longer did they fear threats against friend or family. No longer did they fear authority figures, politicians, and the likes. All these they did have concerns about, but they did not fear, for faith in God and the desire to follow him trumped all.
In our first reading, we see proof of this. The disciples have just been thrown in jail for preaching about Jesus, for claiming without Jesus all will go to Hell, for openly aggravating the high priests by calling them murderers, but also presenting the means of forgiveness which is to have faith in the very one whom they killed. The threat of captivity did not stop the disciples. And when an angel of the Lord rescued them they continued to preach the Good news in open at the synagogues once again, knowing full well that the high priests will find out. It didn’t matter to them. Throw me in jail. Kill me. Take the life of all that I love. I will not shut my mouth and throttle the Holy Spirit.
The Elders, furious, used their political prowess to question the disciples, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s bold upon us.” They hated the fact that Peter and the disciples kept on proclaiming to the masses that Jesus’ blood is on the hands of these Elders and chief priests and Sadducees and Pharisees. How dare you claim I have blood on my hands! How dare you judge Me! They throw their authority around thinking that they have the right to judge and command but be clear of all judgment themselves. They can’t handle to be under scrutiny all while they try and silence, cancel the voices of all they disagree with; choosing to ruin the lives of these disciples.
Thinking that they have authority, and that all should simply obey because of authority or that all should simply believe them because they are authority figures, they got irritated at the disciples who choose not to listen and obey, but rather walk into their house and parade around, protesting the priests by proclaiming loudly the Good News. No threat the authoritarian priests gave deterred this thorn in their side. No matter what they said or did, the nuisance known as Christians kept on rising up.
They never backed down because they feared God more than they fear men. They never backed down because they loved God more than they loved men. They never backed down because they obeyed God rather than men. Compared to God’s authority, what authority does man have? None. So if God and the culture with her brainwashed disciples come at odds who should we follow? Who should we give fealty to? Who should we appeal to? To appeal to experts and politicians and commanders on the mere basis of their supposed expertise is nonsense and mindless, but it is even more nonsensical when the supposed experts command you to go against God using their authority as a bludgeoning tool.
I have witnessed multiple attempts by the disciples of Satan to intimidate good Christians into silence by threat of jail, loss of scholarship, loss of friends, loss of family, loss of job, loss of payment, media induced slander, etc. But I have also witnessed those very same Christians rise up to defend God as they remember that they are sent by Jesus. The Cake baker rose up for Jesus. The Bishop of Finland rose up for Jesus. Pastors in
Canada and California rose up in unrestricted worship for Jesus. Persecuted Christians in Central Africa, India, and in China are rising up for Jesus. The Alliance Defending Freedom and all conservative chaplains and pastors aligned with it have risen up for Jesus. Couches rose up for Jesus. Supposed “Christian Nationalists” rose up for Jesus. Students and teachers rose up for Jesus in school. And even parishioners rose up for Christ in their own god-forsaken churches.
Blessings on all who rise up against the satanic forces which wants us to remain silent. For Jesus says in Luke, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” All who rise up are truly blessed for no longer do they allow fear to push them down but like the disciples have placed their faith in Jesus alone who already died on the cross and has risen from the grave so that all who believe in him will not perish but live eternally. With that promise fulfilled, what do I have to fear? Absolutely nothing!
“He is Alive”
(Chorus) He-e He He’s Alive (x4)
1. I can see above the clouds and
I can hear Him call my name out loud.
2. He has come that I might have life
And more life than I have had before.
Sermon 5/01/22 "Jesus Is Here" By: Pastor Chris Boyd
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.
Easter Sunday Sermon: 4/17/22 by:Pastor Chris Boyd
Exodus 15: 1-11
Psalm 118: 1-2, 15-24
1 Corinthians 15: 1-11
Luke 24: 1-11
“He is Alive”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
He is Risen! [He is Risen indent!] Yes, He is Risen indeed for though he died on that terrible cross to forgive us of our sins, He who is God, could not be held by death but instead conquered the grave.
He is Risen! [He is Risen indeed!]
Now even though Jesus had warned his disciples and all who followed him, to include his own mother, no one understood what He meant when he said he would die and in three days’ time rise again. He warned them multiple times and each they either disbelieved, was confused, or simply couldn’t comprehend his words. No matter how many times he warned them it never clicked. There was no aha moment, nor eureka, or epiphany. For his message kept on flying over their heads.
Now to us who are privy to ending, such messaging seems easy to understand. But keep in mind, we are like those who reads the final chapter before reading the whole book. We are like those who are privy to how a series ends so when we read the first of many books in a series we pick up on all the foreshadowing. That is as oppose to those who are walking into a book or series blind and have trouble picking up the hints for they know not what to look for.
The disciples do not know the end, thus the reason why the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ caught them all off guard. They all thought he was dead and would never come back. When they were coming to the tomb they were prepared to apply spices and fragrances to what they assumed would be a smelly decomposing corpse. It is the third day, and because they did not understood Jesus warnings, they were still mourning.
But imagine their surprise when they saw the tomb already opened. They expected the tomb to be close and needing to seek help from someone, presumably the strong able-bodies Soldiers on guard, to move the large heavy boulder that sealed the entrance. No Soldiers were present, but the tomb was opened, and Jesus’ body was nowhere to be found. Do you think they were excited? Far from it, because they knew not that Jesus was alive. No, instead I could imagine fear and anxiety weighing down their hearts. The Body of our Rabbi is gone! What happened to it?
Did thieves, grave robbers, come and steal his body? Did those working for the elders had so much corruption in their hearts that they dared desecrate a holy site by going against the commandment, “thou shall not steal”? Did the other disciples come and removed the body for preparation sake and didn’t warn the ladies? Did the zealots comes and steal the body to feign a resurrection? Did the Romans remove the body and thus why the Soldiers originally standing guard are gone? Either way, anxiety is one emotion that would definitely have been present in their hearts. If you have ashes of a loved one, just imagine, you come home and the ashes are gone. They could have stolen anything, but nothing hits harder than home than seeing the ashes of your loved one above all else being the focus of some thief.
Now as for the women, in that moment of fear and confusing, immediately two angels came to bring peace to their aching and fainting hearts. Once again these ladies were reminded of the warning that Jesus has been giving them multiple times, “and on the third day rise.” After that the words clicked, but they still didn’t believe. It can’t be. He can’t be alive, but He is, and swiftly they will believe, for Jesus is about to reveal himself to them.
Now there is one more person that I think is even more perplexed; for whereas this act of resurrection should be a source of joy for us, it is the most elaborate joke that has ever been played, a joke that was played on the Devil. He thought he had Jesus in his grips. Jesus practically gave up and gave himself up to the end. It is true that Satan knows the entirety of Scripture, but that does not mean he understands Scripture. He can twist it as much as he likes, but because he lacks faith in Scripture he is incapable of truly comprehending the depth what they were foreshadowing. Jesus was dying and Lucifer was finally victorious!
[Satan voice] All his subjects are in despair, good, good; check. All who crucified him finally realizing the depth of their evil are also in despair, good, good; check. Jesus’ body is rotting in the earth and his soul is in my clutches, good, good; che… wait, what do you mean you can’t find his soul? Did you check the fiery pits? Well what about the icy caverns? How about the beast’s mouth, he always loves chewing on things he shouldn’t chew on and the holiness of Jesus might give him heartburn? Where is he, where is he… no, wait a second… check the tomb. Ah! His body is gone too! Great, this is already the worst day in my life, what’s going to happen next, ascension into heaven to get seated at the right hand of the father? …He what!
Yes, today we celebrate the most elaborate joke that has ever been played. For Satan thought he won, but Jesus never loses. Jesus was already ten steps in front of Satan, out playing him the entire time. Yes, Jesus suffered, but his it is his suffering that made this joke so grant. For whereas the Devil laughed at the deadly pain of Jesus, it is us who have the final laugh, for through the cross and resurrection not only was Jesus saved from the clutches of Satan, but all who believe in Jesus so too. Satan thought he had the final laugh, but now he weeps in misery as he sees his domain sinful slavery which he won through a tree slipping between his fingers, ever shrinking also because of a tree. Oh the sweet irony! One by one Satan’s domain shrinks as One by one people are set free from their enslavement to sin and into the gracious warm arms of our Lord.
Jesus has won! Jesus is victorious! Death has lost its sting! And it is Jesus who has truly the final laugh. The Joke wasn’t just merely that Jesus escaped the clutches of Hell and is alive, a task that should be impossible from the eyes of Satan. The Joke was that when he descended he paid the debt of sin for all, and then through his glorious resurrection lifts up not just himself but also all who believe in Him. That is the joke. That Satan is no longer king, that he is powerless so long as we accept Jesus as our true king. No longer do we fear the gates of Hell for through Christ we have the gates of Heaven. No longer do we fear death for through Christ we have eternal life. No longer do we fear abandonment, for through Christ we are always in communion. No longer do we fear slavery for through Christ we are set free.
And no longer are we in a season of Lent, mourning our Lord Jesus’ departure, for we are now in the season of Easter proclaiming what? He is Risen! [He is Risen indeed!] And if He is Risen then that he means he is alive, truly alive, now and forever more. With that instead of ending with a prayer, I like to instead end with a brief bible summer camp song that I grew up with. I’ll sing the verses, and you’ll sing with me the easy part, the highly repetitive chorus: