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To Suffer…To Rise…To Be Proclaimed

Apr 15, 2018

Passage: Luke 24:44-49

Preacher: Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa

Category: Sunday, Easter (season)

Detail:

Text: “44Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

In the Name of Jesus. Amen. When I was a kid, me and my neighborhood buddies had fun making club-houses. During this exhilarating season of life, one club-house was a hole in the ground, large in circumference and deeper than our height (we had fun hypothesizing how far we could go if we started digging horizontally from deep in the hole…who knew, maybe we could eventually reach below one of our houses, but alas we never got beyond a few feet). We covered up our secret hole with a large piece of plywood and kept it camouflaged up top. Another club-house was a tree house. It was pretty-decent; and it was exciting to go up instead of down, this time around elevated (not in a hole) and above many things. And then a third club-house was a little back-yard shack. It was our own little place to gather. The club-house came equipped with a pass word. If you wanted to get in – even if your friend on the inside knew your voice – you had to say the password. It was our own little shibboleth re-enactment taken out of Scripture (though we didn’t know this at the time). The men of Gilead in Judges chapter 12 could identity their enemies from Ephraim, because the Ephraimites had difficulty pronouncing the word, shibboleth. The word means, “flood, stream, or ear of corn,” but it wasn’t the meaning that was important, but simply the ability to correctly say the word. It was a kind of pass-word.

Anyway, what I find amusing about this reminiscing is that I also recall what would happen once we gathered together in those club-houses. In a short order, we were bored to tears. The fun was making and building them. It was the activity and the work that was intriguing. This was what truly captured our imaginations. Playing baseball, riding bikes, target practice with our sling-shots, building go-karts and then getting our big German Shepherd to pull us around; flying kites, playing basketball, hop scotch, ping-pong, marbles, football: that was the good stuff; that was the real fun. Unless we pulled out our i-phones, then life got really fun…wait a minute, we didn’t have i-phones (what am I saying?) …and we were super happy not knowing what would be invented over 30 years later!

But while I have fond memories of the club-houses, again, I still laugh because like I said, while it was exciting at first to gather…we quickly lost interest. We just had get out and be active again. Indeed, the best thing about having a club house was that it gave a sense of belonging. We had a kind of fellowship of mutual-encouragement. It was a way of gaining an identity and confidence as a young person. But again, the last thing we wanted to do was sit around all day, hiding out in a club house.

Fast forward to just 7 years ago when I was installed here on April 9th, 2011. The Rev. Dr. Charles Manske, the founding president of Christ College Irvine (that is now Concordia University Irvine, on the verge of identifying its 5th president) preached that day (he would go to heaven just over 4 years later in July of ’15). He was a wonderful servant of God. He inspired me in many ways. He was vigorous in the pulpit; a visionary; a great researcher and an effective teacher. He was a leader, an evangelist, and an apologist. He reached many people with the saving gospel of Christ. He lived for the mission of the Holy Church and again, he preached right here just seven years ago.

In that sermon he reminded all of us that this congregation is not a zoo (he actually-used that word “zoo”). It isn’t about collecting people so that we might gaze at ourselves or so that others would gaze at us. We are not here for people to drive by and say, “Oh, I hear there’s a nice little church that meets on Sunday mornings in there.” We are not a club-house. And the gospel is not a shibboleth. We are not made Christians because we are in the know about the right pass-word. We are not the church because we go through a liturgy and say all the right things. But if we are ever tempted to have that view, note what will happen: we will sit around staring at each other getting really bored, and we won’t get much done for the Kingdom of God.

No, the Church is meant for activity (even if it relies first upon God’s activity to come and serve us with Word and Sacrament, but once that occurs, the LORD’s service to us leads to changed lives). We are intended by God to be out and about doing all the things that Christians do. Not hiding our faith but rather letting our faith shine through acts of love and through the speaking of the things of God’s Word and most especially about God’s gospel: what Jesus has done and is doing for sinners to save them.

We need to carefully consider something: since Christ is risen and living, He is not sitting back twiddling His thumbs. Remember last Sunday’s proclamation? The disciples were in their club house, with the doors locked for fear and you can bet they were listening for the right passwords so that not just anyone was going to get in (esp. a Roman soldier). Jesus would not allow them to carry on this way, so He came into their midst and as a result established forever that the True Church would never be a club house, and that the gospel would never be reduced to a pass word.

Here in Luke 24, we learn that when Jesus came to the original disciples, that He led them immediately to The Word. And then once He did that, at verse 45 we read: “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” And this dear Christian is exactly what the LORD continues to do. It is exciting, it is invigorating, it is inspirational, and it is empowering because the Scriptures are the Living Word of the Living and Risen Christ! We you hear them you hear the Living LORD; Risen Christ speak to YOU! And when this happens, God works in YOU!

If anyone ever handles God’s Word without seeing Christ as the meaning of the Word; as the significance and fulfillment of the Word; as the center of Scripture…that it is all about Jesus…then the Scriptures will remain a book that is hidden, dark, confusing and treated as irrelevant at the end of the day. Talk about sad, because to know the real meaning is to know the power of God!

One day when the Sadducees wanted to perpetuate their silly man-made ideas and philosophies about the after-life, Jesus corrected them at Matthew 22:29, but notice how the LORD phrased his rebuke:

“You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”

Where there is right knowledge, when you see the real meaning…when you see Christ throughout the Scripture, the key to knowing their intent, then you also know Christians the power of God.

But its here in Luke 24 that that power is clearly defined. Once Jesus made this source of knowing the ongoing significance and reality that Jesus is LIVING and RISEN – that the Scriptures show Him and present Him – then the LORD pointed out three things that spell out how God’s power is known exactly: its summed up in three infinitives or verbal nouns in the original. Here they are. These are the things on Christ that open minds and make us disciples that know God’s enabling power to live out our faith beyond the club house and pass word insiders club mentally. These are the infinitives of verses 46-47:

  • To suffer
  • To rise
  • To be proclaimed

Luther wrote: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my LORD, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith (Small Catechism).”

And exactly how is this gospel and power of God presented to us? That Christ suffered. That Christ rose. AND…don’t forget the third thing Jesus said and still says: That repentance and the forgiveness of sins must be proclaimed. To suffer, to rise, to proclaim…this is the power of God.

This is what is given you to break out of the hopeless, hapless clubhouse and password – rest-on-your-own-laurels- club and make-no-difference-in-the-world whatsoever club…God comes to you and says again, LOOK…

  • To suffer: see His wounds, the wounds still on the Living, Risen LORD. All that could deter you, stop you, depress you, discourage you, bury you in shame, disable you in guilt, override you with fear, has been covered. You Christian, today and always are forgiven your sins. God holds none of the bad stuff against you. The ONE who suffered for you has cleansed you and made you holy. 
  • To rise: see His victory Christian. See HIS power. What can harm you? What can be against you? What can threaten you? Can even death? Answer: No! Not even death! For behold: The LORD Jesus is risen! He has conquered the grace!⦁ To rise: see His victory Christian. See HIS power. What can harm you? What can be against you? What can threaten you? Can even death? Answer: No! Not even death! For behold: The LORD Jesus is risen! He has conquered the grace!
  • To proclaim: and this is where we especially get to shine living in the 21st century. Some people think to themselves, but the 1st century disciples had such an advantage. Hold on a second before we go along with that idea. Let’s let St. Augustine help us out here:

“The disciples could not see this. They could see Christ talking about the church that would be. When Christ said something they could not see, they believed him. They could see the head, but they could not yet see the body. We can see the body, but we believe about the head. They are two: husband and wife, head and body. Christ and the church. He showed himself to the disciples and promised them the church. He showed us the church and ordered us to believe about himself. The apostles saw one thing, but they did not see the other. We also see one thing and do not see the other. Having the head there with them, they believed about the body. Having the body here with us, we should believe about the head (Just Jr., Arthur A., ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament III: Luke, Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003. 388).”

Christian, you have amazing proof and evidence of the gospel and the power of God unto salvation. You have the Church and in fact, you are a member of it! Now, see the power of God, see the meaning of life, see the mission you have been given…it is glorious! Proclaim! Show Christ in how you love people…show Christ in how you speak…forgive…pour out grace…go the extra mile…serve…love unconditionally and share, no, not as an obnoxious blowhorn, but in conversation. Salt your speech. Tell of the God who has created all things and the same God who has sent a Savior…who forgives sinners. Be ready to share esp. when the person before you is hurting, because that is when the Holy Spirit makes people ready, when they know they need help. But know this, as you support the mission and participate in the mission of proclaiming the Good News of the risen Lord, you shall be blessed and you are blessed, because God has broken you out of the club house and He has made you a member of the Church. Jesus is here! He is risen. He is alive. He speaks to you. You have His Scriptures and the power of God therein!