Jesus Prepares Us
Confirmation Day 2018
Acts 3:11-21 // 1 John 3:1-7 // Luke 24:36-49
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our sermon text is the Gospel lesson, “As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace to you!” Our text thus far.
Dear friends in Christ,
We’re taking a look at all that Christ does on our behalf in these days past Easter.
In our sermon series this Easter, we are focused on Jesus building His Kingdom near and far. We have said it again and again in this school year that Jesus is on a mission to seek and to save lost sinners, and He has invited every local congregation big and small to join Him on that mission. The last two Sundays we focused on Jesus living for us and Jesus persuading Thomas, in the next five weeks, we will focus on Jesus shepherding, Jesus abiding, Jesus choosing, and Jesus praying. This morning, we see Jesus preparing us.
A story of preparing. I was making a pizza the other day for friends to come over… I had the dough all made up. I had the chicken all cooked. I had everything ready except for the sauce… but I didn’t have tomato sauce for a base. So I think I’ll make a white sauce. I don’t have ranch dressing. So I think I’ll make some, but I don’t have mayonnaise, so I think I’ll make some, and it doesn’t go well, and my friends come over. And they get me my sauce.
The point is, there was preparing to do, but I hadn’t done it. There was a future to be ready for but I was not ready.
Not too far away from here is an older gentleman, one that has had to take steps back, and not a one has been willingly. I tell him that he’s in his eighties, doesn’t he think he’ll need to think about it sometime? To which he says, “Well, I don’t want to think about that today.”
Not too far away from him is a set of confirmands that are just excited to be done with memorizing and speaking into microphones. The knowledge that came in one ear can start to go out the other ear, and life can move forward.
And not too far away from them is a young mom that had kids before she expected and has felt like the last 5 years has been living by the seat of her pants. Everything seems to be last minute. Everything is a surprise. Nothing seems to go as planned or to have enough time for thought.
Today’s sermon theme is on Jesus Christ preparing. Two points to make on this question: What does it mean that Jesus is preparing? First, Jesus is taking away the sting of our past. Second, Jesus is going ahead to prepare for us.
First, we see the disciples in a room together, hearing first how Jesus appeared to Peter, when Cleopas and another disciple burst into the room to tell them that Christ was made known to them in the breaking of the bread and in prayer, when Christ himself stands among them.
The Scriptures record that they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. To which, when I think on it, I imagine them asking the same question that my wife asked over and over again when I proposed to her: Are you serious?
We see in his presence Jesus is taking away the sting of their past. He is incarnating a living hope into their being. He is undoing the power of sin which is the law, and thanks be to God for the Victory in Jesus Christ. Mark who ran away needs no longer to be ashamed. Peter who denied needs no longer to be ashamed. Thomas who doubted needs no longer to be ashamed. Jesus comes and his presence takes away the sting of sin.
Can you believe that? When Christ is present, there is no reason to hold onto our shame. Now, note in all the examples above, there was a real and legitimate shame and failure. These weren’t throw-away sins. But in the presence of Jesus, their power is gone.
When was the last time that you considered what the presence of Jesus could do to your shame and to others? The sin of others has no effect on you. The hurt of others has no effect on you, because the presence of Jesus means that new and other things are important to you: death is not the end of your life, so there is no reason to fear death.
Second, Jesus is preparing for us. Once or twice a week, early in the morning, before anyone else is up, I’ll get up and run and come on back. By the time I’m back, some amount of people are up in our house, and we are getting the days started. But what I will do, about once or twice a week, instead of coming up immediately, I’ll stay downstairs, get the coffee going, get the breakfast going, and bring up breakfast and hot coffee for Laura.
She might hear me, or she might not. She might suspect what I’m doing or she might not. She might just be wondering why it’s taking so long for me to get up the stairs, but the point is that when I am away from her, I am preparing for her.
In our text, Jesus indicates that he is sending the promise of the Father upon them. He is preparing to clothe them in power. He will be leading them out into Bethany. He will be leaving them, ascending into heaven and preparing a place for them.
He is with them, whether in his active presence, or in his absence. One pastor type talked about it this way: we think often about a ministry of being present with people. We don’t often think about the ministry of our absence. What does he mean by that? He doesn’t mean to make sure people “Thank God” that you’re gone. Don’t do that. But yet, he was urging pastors to not only think about the time you get to spend with people, but think about what your last words are, what lasting action you can take, think about how you can influence someone even when you’re far away.
Consider: If these were the last words someone said to this person before they died, would that be ok? If this was the last thing I would say to this person in 10 years, is it a good statement?
The kingdom of heaven is like a young man that is more thoughtful now than he was 10 years ago. He cringes to think what he would say without thinking, but he is glad to know that his Lord has been leading him deeper.
The kingdom of heaven is like a large church in a small town, one where the Lord has appeared and proclaimed he is risen. The Presence of their Lord is always on their minds, especially as they pray for those who have conflict, especially as they seek to act in peace and love, especially as they consider not only the active ministry they do, but also the way that their God is working in their absence.
Amen and Amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther