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Third Sunday After Easter – John 16:16-23a

by pastorjuhl ~ April 26th, 2010

This from Rev. Dustin L. Anderson of Trinity Church, Marseilles, IL

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!

We are at war. We have been drafted into a battle that has been raging for thousands of years. It’s a fight of Truth and lies, righteousness and sin, faith and unbelief, forgiveness and condemnation. We are in it over our heads. We try to stay in the fight. We frantically tread in the water to stay afloat. We want to storm the beach, to win the day, but we are weighed down and the flaming darts of the adversary bombard us from all sides. It’s a spiritual Normandy.

The casualties are insurmountable, the loss great. The pain, the blood, the loss of life and limb are unimaginable. No one is left standing. Death blankets the sandy shores. No one is left to fight. The enemy rejoices over those who weep and lament. He gloats over the dead and dying corpses. The enemy is victorious. Or is he?

You all know this scene. You live it day in and day out. It is the fight of the Christian. It is the ever-raging battle against the unholy trinity of the devil, the world and your own sinful flesh. It is everyone’s fight. It is your fight. And you’re losing it. In fact you’ve lost it. You try to fight, (at least you should), but to no avail. You fall into the lusts and desires of your hearts. Idolatry of the self leads the way. In the end you litter the soil with your remains. It is a disheartening endeavor – this life, which lead to death. You might as well give up. If only you had a Champion to fight for you, someone to be a David to your Goliath. But woe to you, God seems to be nowhere you look. He never shows up when, where and the way you want Him. He seems to have forgotten you. You are hidden from Him. Or are you?

To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up you eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out the host by number, calling them all by name, but the greatness of His might, and because He is strong in power not one is missing.

You do have your David, but He’s not much to look at, just like David wasn’t much to look at in terms of a warrior. He was a lowly shepherd boy. Yours is not the Champion you want, He’s the Champion you need. He fights for you with power, but it is hidden power. It cannot be seen or measured with any instrument. His power is found in His Word. When He speaks it happens, even if you cannot see or feel it.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable…”

It is easy to judge God by your own devises. With your God-given senses you measure up God. Can you see Him? Can you feel Him? Can you think of Him? You fall into the same trap as your first mother when she measured up the fruit with her senses. It was pleasing to the eye, good for food and desirable to make one wise. When this method of evaluation is used in the midst of the battle against your three unholy foes, God will not suffice. He will not look good, desirable or wise. When loved ones betray you, when your body rots away from age and disease, when your heart is weighed down with guilt and shame, you will not see God as you want to see Him. He will be hidden to you. He will seem to have forgotten you.

God wants you weak. He wants you dead, because that’s the way of God. Your problem is the idea that you have life in and of yourself. With this mindset you will do anything to hold onto what you perceive to already possess. You believe that you have a right to life, but you don’t. You’ve lost that. Think about it this way, before you were born did you walk up to God and demand the right to life? It would have been difficult being that you didn’t exist until God said you did. When our first parents ate that fruit they returned to a place were they didn’t have anything once again. They were dead. “The day you eat of it you will surely die.”

Your Champion fixes this dilemma once and for all. He willingly, out of unimaginable love, leaves pure life and descends into your midst, into death. The Life of God became one of the walking dead. By His coming into you midst He became the Way out of death to life. His way was the path never before traveled. His way was through death.

This way through death is not without pain or sorrow. Dying was never to be the way. We were created for life, but death became us. That death had to be destroyed. The only way was for one who was without sin to die for those with sin. There is only One such man – Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary. His way was one of great pain and sorrow, but it was not because of Himself that He endured such misfortune. It was for you that He went to battle and He went for the joy of it. He is your David. He stood in your place and fought the insurmountable foe. All He had was the five smooth stones of the Torah, His word and your flesh and bone. But unlike that valiant shepherd son of Jesse, the Good Shepherd laid down His life for the sheep. He, the Word made flesh, threw Himself at the foe. And the three evil foes ignorantly rejoice in victory, not knowing or understanding what they had done. They had brought a swift and final end to the war, but it would not go in their favor.

Jesus had to die. He had to die the gruesome death of the cross in His sinless self to once and for all destroy death and the evil foes. You, too, must die with Him. You must be drowned to death, before your place in the battle can be taken. You do not swim to the shore but float there embracing your Savior and His blood soaked cross. In the battle the combat is tense, but you may lose sight of Jesus and fall away in fear hiding anywhere you can find comfort, but He is always there. And He can always be found. He has promised and sealed it with His blood to be where His Word is spoken and where His crucified body and blood are found. This place is your MASH unit. This is where you are healed so you can stand in the fight behind Jesus, who fights for you.

It is for this reason that no matter how bad the fight gets, no matter how much suffering and pain you endure, no matter how lonely you may feel Jesus Christ is with you and for you. This gives you joy that knows no limit. It is a joy that breaks out into praise and thanksgiving in the midst of life, a life you share with countless other Christians who join in the same song:

Christians, to the Paschal Victim Offer your thankful praises! The Lamb the sheep has ransomed: Christ, who only is sinless, Reconciling sinners the Father. Death and life have contended In that combat stupendous: The Prince of life, who died, Reigns immortal. Christ is arisen From the grave’s dark prison. So let our song exulting rise: Christi with comfort lights our eyes. Alleluia! Speak, Mary, declaring What you say when wayfaring.” “The tomb of Christ, who is living, the glory of Jesus’ resurrection; Bright angels attesting, The shroud and napkin resting. Lord Christ, my hope, is arisen; To Galilee He goes before you.” All our hopes were ended Had Jesus not ascended From the grave triumphantly Our never-ending life to be. Alleluia! Christ indeed from death is risen, Our new life obtaining. Have mercy, victor King, every reigning! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia! So let our song exulting rise: Christ, our comfort, fills the skies. Alleluia! + In Jesus’ Name + Amen.

Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed. Alleluia. Amen.

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