1. The Resurrection: It Happened—The World is Changed
2: The Resurrection: Proof and Meaning
3: The Resurrection is the Voice of the Shepherd
4: The Resurrection Turns Sorrow to Joy
5: The Resurrection Gives the Helper
6: The Resurrection Is the Foundation of Prayer
7: The Resurrection: Strength and Hope in Suffering
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
There is suffering that goes with being a Christian. Your family, your friends, society, even fellow church members will persecute you if you are too into Jesus. If you wish to live according to Biblical standards; if you expect your own family as you raise them, or encourage your own family once they are grown, to live as the Christians they were baptized to be you will suffer. You’ve all told me about those struggles. About not wanting to alienate children. About not pushing too hard. And there is wisdom in not pushing too hard (Ephesians 6:4). But you all know that you’ve also failed to speak when you should have. That you’re kids attitudes, or family members’ attitudes, or friends’ attitudes have effected your attitudes, so that you do not live your faith as you yourself know you should. Repent.
Murder as God’s work! These days we think such people are crazy, but these people will think they are doing justice. What is right. Silencing what they view as a great evil. And haven’t you wanted to avenge wrongs? Haven’t you wanted to punish, even end, or kill, those who have hurt you deeply? Haven’t you thought death too good for sexual predators, child molesters and the like? - That is sinful man’s reaction to injustice. Which means it is your reaction to injustice. That’s the mind set of these people who will do harm to the Twelve: “We need to silence them. What they are saying about this Jesus is wrong, even unjust!”
That’s what people who don’t believe in Jesus think: Jesus is crazy. Think about it from their perspective. Jesus says things that aren’t remotely popular. Which by today’s thinking don’t even make sense. He has firm ethics in all areas of life that from age to age are never popular (Matthew 5:17-6:4, etc.; Exodus 20:1-21). These days His ethics about sexuality (Matthew 5:27-28, 31-32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:11-12) seem so passe. Today the only ethic seems to be do what you want and flaunt it. But more importantly than His ethics, He actually thought He was God (John 10:30). He actually thought He had authority to judge as only God can judge, to forgive sins as only God can (Mark 2:5-12 ; John 10:33, 36-37). He actually believed that man’s inborn state was wrong; that man was sinful, broken, separated from God (Matthew 15:18-20; John 3:6; Matthew 12:33-34). These are not popular positions today. People who have never believed in Him or who have fallen away from belief in Him do not want to hear these things (Romans 8:6-8). They will seek to silence you if you speak these things. Even if you keep silence they may not even like you to live out your beliefs as that shames them (John 15:19; 17:14; Matthew 6:24).
Moreover, He sends His Holy Spirit into your heart to remind you of all that He’s said (John 16:4). To bring to mind what you’ve read and heard in Scripture when you need it. When you need to speak it. The Holy Spirit is not a magician, a miracle worker who puts on a good show if you know the right tricks. Some of our brothers and sisters in Christ get sidetracked that way and make a mockery of themselves and Christ. No, the Holy Spirit was sent to proclaim, to witness, to embolden Christ’s Church to speak Christ’s forgiveness (John 15:26-27). Even in the midst of suffering. Even in the midst of fear and social pressure that shut you down and cause you not to speak what you believe. That’s why He sent His Holy Spirit. To embolden you in faith to speak the hope that lies within you (1 Peter 3:14-16). So that if you speak of Him it is Him speaking, not you.
St. Peter said the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s gifts of grace (charisma, 1 Peter 4:10) is that God be glorified through Christ Jesus. So a Spirit prompted speaking about Jesus, or act of mercy—like hospitality to stranger, or serving one another—are all given by the Spirit to cause us and the recipients of such mercy to give God glory through Christ our Lord who has shown us mercy.
Even in the midst of speaking and doing these mercies there are those who will persecute you for your faith. But remember it is not you they hate, but Jesus and His name. For you are not that terribly different from them. You have the same inborn sinful desire. You sin every bit as much as others, even if your sins are less obvious. But on account of the Holy name of God put on you in Baptism you will be saved (Ezekiel 36:22-23). For God’s own Spirit given with water (Titus 3:5-6; Acts 2:38-39) has sprinkled and washed you clean from the defilement of own sin (Psalm 51:7), of the ways you have defamed the name of your God among the nations, to those who do not believe in Christ (Ezekiel 36:25). From the ways you have bowed down to the idols of this age. From the ways your heart has become detached from Christ your first love (Revelation 2:3-5), and has attached itself to the things the people of this world love.
Even King David cried out in brokenness and repentance, “Give me a new heart (Psalm 51:10). Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me (Psalm 51:11). For that’s my only hope. My heart is stone. I’ve been dead in sin since I was conceived (Psalm 51:5). You must give me a new heart that didn’t exist before (Psalm 51:10). Don’t turn your face away from me, don’t ignore me, or take your Spirit away (Psalm 51:11). It’s all I’ve got. Instead wipe away my sin (Psalm 51:1-2, 9) and give me the joy of Your salvation, establish a good spirit in me, give me a spirit willing to be led by your Spirit (Psalm 51:12).” That’s what the Holy Spirit does.
He kills you. He carves out your dead heart. He slays your old sinner within. He transplants a new heart into you, gives you a new life, a new will, a desire to do and be who He is in you.
So don’t be surprised that the world hates when you try to live that out. Don’t be surprised that your own flesh rebels against you. Don’t be surprised that your heart keeps turning to stone. Keep coming to Him who gives you His heart, who declares your sins forgiven, who puts His own death defeating body and blood in you. Who gave up His Spirit and gave it to you.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON