Acts 13: 15-16a, 26-33 

Psalm 23 

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.

Acts 9: 1-20 

Psalm 30 

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.

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:



“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.

 

Acts 5: 12, 17-32 

Psalm 148 

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.

Isaiah 43: 16-21

Psalm 28: 1-9

Philippians 3: 8-14

Luke 20: 9-19

 

“Cornerstone Rejected”

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

Last week I reflected on the problem of knowledge unbridled by humility; on how what the world teaches as wise is actually foolish in the eyes of God, and on what God teaches is wise is unfortunately foolish in the eyes of the world. We become so conceited in our expertise and vast knowledge that when we slip up and get something wrong, which we will do, that much is most certainly true, then we allow our vain glory to take charge by replacing the truth with a lie which we are unwilling to rectify. The world has done this multiple times and instead of asking for forgiveness, the world gets all puffed up and angry at God. Multiple generations of vain glory passes and the mistake becomes a truth in the minds of the spiritually blind and spiritually dumb. And with each generation, our lack of integrity and humility causes us to continually stack up on top of each other falsities after falsities after falsities.

 

As we slip away from God, the foundation we create for ourselves, which is not found in truth but in vain glory, is but shifting sand. It is like standing on top of a shaky unstable Jenga tower; each and every piece of the tower being one human-made sophisticated philosophy or belief not supported by divinely-revealed reality. And like Jenga, those who play the game of human-made lies are attempting to reach higher and higher towards self-made Godhood all while maintaining a delicate balance that gets more difficult to maintain with each lie. Eventually, and this is inevitable, the tower of lies will fall, it always does, and when it falls the haughty are brought low and finally are humbled.

 

As we pretend to be God, making for ourselves our own “truths”, we end up rejecting the Truth, rejecting God Himself. For the reason why our house of lies is so shaky is because we have rejected the most important part of the house, which is the cornerstone. We build our house with human hands, intentionally ignoring every instruction from God. When a complication arrives due to our willful ignorance, instead of correcting the issue we conveniently ignore the solution by overcompensating with fancy human-made devices. But when those fail us simply because the core issue has not been rectified, we make even more fancy things and add that to our house. We try as hard as we can to build a sound house all while ignoring the only true solution to our problem. Thus, eventually our creation will fall apart. And when it does, from the rubble there are only two options: we continue to willfully ignore God and build a new tower, or we come to Christ and use him as our cornerstone to build a sturdy house that will never fall.

 

In our vain glory we want to be God, rulers of our own lives, determiners of our own laws. We want to strip God of his powers and clothe ourselves in His robes of glory. We want to take his two tablets, smash them on the ground, and make for ourselves our own Ten Commandments. We want to ignore the grace of God and claim divine right for whatever we choose. We who are servants of God, workers of his field which he planted but leaves in our care, no longer want to be mere gardeners but owners. We get all puffed up with vain glory thinking that since we are the workers of the field then we must be the ones who should own the field and gain the inheritance of the field. So when the true owner comes, what do we desire to do? We throw him out of our vineyard which we falsely claim, murder the true owner, or at least his son, and like thieves reap the spoils of the inheritance which we will surely squander for we are just mere workers of a field.

 

This is what Jesus was telling the chief priests and their scribes, the Pharisees and Sadducees, and all who ignore Christ. They are the greedy tenants of the field who out of vain glory believe that they are the true owners. God gave to his people so many things, to include the Law and his blessing. But generation after generation his people keep on either adding or subtracting from the Law and squandering his blessings. Eventually they came to the conclusion that they own the blessings that God graciously gave them. They become their own Gods and their own rulers, pretending to follow God, but are in reality following themselves. Thus, when God claims ownership, these tenants become enraged.

 

Eventually the true owner sends his one and only beloved son. He does not send his son to punish the tenants, but in hopes that the people would at least respect this person for he comes with authority. The opposite happens. The people become even more enraged and filled with greed and envy and pride and wrath. They want the inheritance. They want to be God. They hate the authority that the Son wields. So they kill the son, hoping that by killing God then they can become God and be the true owners of the vineyard.

 

Such tenants are so puffed up with pride they prove themselves to be fools, for no one will ever be able to wretch divine power away from God. You can claim to be God all you want, but you will never be God. Instead you will crash and you will burn. For Jesus told those listening that the owner destroyed the tenants and gave the vineyard to others. The tenants rejected the cornerstone; they have received their just reward, according to Psalm 28.

 

The scribes and the chief priests correctly interpreted Jesus’ parable, but their illogical reaction only proved Jesus’ point. Jesus said that the tenants killed the son sent by the owner of the vineyard because they rejected the son and desired that which was the son’s divine right. Doing so led to their own destruction. Upon hearing this, what did the chief priests desire to do? Kill Jesus. They had already rejected the cornerstone sent by God, but their rejection is due to the fact that they wanted to declare divine right over Scripture. They whose foolish pride led them into believing a lie couldn’t handle the Truth which is Jesus Christ. They wanted the right to interpret Scripture, but when Jesus came and taught things that countered their false interpretations, they sought Jesus’ destruction. Their desire to kill Jesus only grew when they heard Jesus allude to the fact that God will destroy his people if they reject his Son, Jesus Christ, the cornerstone, and pass his blessings on to others.

 

The only way to Salvation is faith in Christ. There is no other way. Now through faith and only through faith in Jesus Christ, who is the cornerstone, and will be your strength and your righteousness, know this you are indeed saved and will reap the benefits of all his graciously given blessings to include heaven. With regards to our own righteousness, no amounts of works or following the Law will ever merit us salvation and the resurrection. For we are not righteous, and nothing we do by ourselves is righteous. If we think we are righteous or that we have the divine right of salvation or that we could work ourselves into being saved then we live a lie. It is only through faith in the cornerstone that we are truly saved, for true righteousness comes only from God and is given to us only through faith and not in our own misguided sense of self-righteousness.

 

We are not God. We cannot save ourselves. We are the shifting sands; that unstable houses. Too often we want to run away from Creation and the power of God, lifting humanity to Godhood. The transgender movement, the Pride movement (aptly named), the abortion movement, socialism, fascism, communism, totalitarianism, separation of Church and State, controlled speech, global warming, critical race theory, utopia, forced secularism, legalism, Works alone, Faith and Works alone, etc.; all these and many others are just mere human-made symptoms of a larger issue, the societal desire to reject the cornerstone and the creating power of God; to artificially lift humanity to Godhood by claiming they can save themselves, achieve perfection by themselves, and take powers away from God that he did not bless us with.

 

By stating the obvious, I wonder how many people will want to lay hands on me. Those who do are just like the Pharisees and Sadducees and scribes and chief priests who defended their own ungodly beliefs to the point that they had to reject Christ who exposed their foolishness.

 

Know this, Christ did not come to condemn you, for you were already condemned. He came to save you; you who are sinners. His grace is unconditional and cares not if you were the tenant in the vineyard or not, for all will enjoy the chance of receiving salvation, but not all will accept it. So I ask you, will you accept his salvation by having faith in him, faith that supersedes all other beliefs, or will you be like the tenants and the elders of the synagogues who rejected the cornerstone because of their own foolish pride?

 

When your faith and the world come at odds, which will you pick? I hope and pray that God continues to provide each and every one of us, myself included, with the strength to always choose faith today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter. God help us.

 

Let us pray.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, you unconditionally bless us with salvation so long that we have faith in your Son who died on the cross to save us. Protect us from all the schemes of the world which desires to steal us from your flock and provide us with the strength to proclaim your name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Bible Verse of the Day

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