+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.
Text: John 17:20
Theme: For Those Who Will Believe
Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
God doesn’t suffer from tunnel-vision. He sees the entire picture. In His field of vision lies every sin and every sinner. He lacks none of the facts. His intelligence is never incomplete. Yet in spite of His comprehensive scrutiny of us fallen creatures His response is not a matter of aversion but of compassion. He does not abandon His image-bearers but attends to them. “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”1 Here we have Christianity in its indispensable essence.
God attends to us proactively- before we have even the capability of thinking of Him. For the converted- whether they have been believers for one day or their entire lives- this truth can easily be relegated to the historical past. What takes the fore is the living of our Christian life, bearing the cross here and now. Yet an integral part of that is concern for those still unconverted. In Christ’s sacred prayer to the heavenly Father today He makes this petition, “My prayer is not for them(disciples) alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message.”2
The Christian Church is a communion of the faithful that is yet incomplete. Your participation in the body of Christ is also for the sake of those who will believe. Rather than being nonsensical, this thought is biblical, even logical. How narrow is our vision compared with the greatness of God’s plans! Yet He wishes to make you a part. Your vocation in the world- through which you serve others according to the gifts and opportunities God has given you- also involves testifying to the truth for the sake of those who will believe. The Psalmist exclaims, “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.”3
Sometimes the task seems too daunting. Society often seems uninterested, even antagonistic towards the church. What progress can be made in situation where people don’t seem to be in the mood to even give Christianity a hearing? These considerations must occupy us. How can the uninterested by engaged in God’s truth?
It is important to assess the breadth and depth of the ideology of tolerance in our society. When the charge is made that society is becoming more secular and godless that does not mean people don’t have a standard by which they value things. Without valuations and distinctions life would become mindlessly meaningless. Their measuring stick is intensely personal, acutely sensitive to peer-review, and aware of the political hot-topics of society.
There is little belief in objective truth. All things are negotiable. All things are debatable. All things are tolerable except intolerance.
Within this context Christians are faced with the very practical challenge of seeking to live according to objective truth. Both God’s commands and His promises instruct our worldview. To do so requires honest reflection of our own motives. Are we prone to repent of our sins only when we meet with shame or failure? Do we recognize the deeper clash between our self-serving agendas and God’s call to self-sacrifice in Christ? Is the command of God easily set aside for the traditions of men?
We should never assume we know the motives of others. Speculation is fuelled by a burning desire to know or an uncharitable desire to condemn. In the latter, speculation is driven by suspicion. We are called to be truthful. The Eighth Commandment says, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.” Observing this command involves an attitude about how we approach things. In this context it means not only that we refrain from lying to or about our neighbour, but that we, as Luther says, “explain everything in the kindest way.”4
A woman walked into her bathroom at home. There she saw her husband weighing himself on the bathroom scales, sucking in his stomach. The woman thought to herself, "He foolishly thinks that he will weigh less by sucking his stomach in." So, she rather sarcastically said to her husband, "That’s not going to help." But her husband replied, "Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers." In all things we must be charitable.
Dear friends, the Word is never without effect. God is not in need of our ingenuity to accomplish His purposes. Today we were reminded that he freed Paul and Silas from prison through an earthquake. What a small thing it is for Him to rescue us from the perils we face. One implication of your baptism is that God promises to attend to you faithfully. The Scripture says even, “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”5
This Thursday past marked the Ascension of our Lord. The ascension of Christ should rouse us from our spiritual slumber. It is a portent of things to come. His Second Coming will happen without advanced notice. At His ascension the angel said, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.”6 Forewarned is forearmed. His bodily return in glory is incontestable. It is central to the Christian confession. “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”7
The Christian’s life is prioritized accordingly. We keep our sights set on the promises He has made. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and go through the gates of the city.”8 Jesus prayed, “Father, I want those you have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory.”9 This is our supreme confidence and unassailable source of joy. We stay nourished by His body and blood and renewed by His forgiveness.
Christ came not for the righteous, but for sinners. He came for the suspicious. He came for the skeptic. He came for the quick-tempered. He came for the timid. And He came for the naïve. He came to Thomas who doubted Him, Peter who renounced Him, and Nicodemus who queried Him. He came for the selfish. He came for the despairing. He came for forlorn. And He came for the forsaken. He came to the widow of Nain, the woman at the well, the blind and the lame, the deaf and the mute. He came for the Pharisees who cursed Him. He came for tax-collectors and prostitutes. Can you entertain the real possibility that He did not come for you? Can you best the claim of Paul who said “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst?”10
Jesus Christ died and rose that you might have life. He awaits the appointed time to consummate the union with His bride, the church. But He does not sit idly by. He intercedes for sinners, one and all. There are those who are yet to believe. May God make us faithful witnesses to the truth on their behalf. Amen.
+ In nomine Jesu +
Seventh Sunday of Easter
12 May 2013
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt
1 Romans 5:8
2 John 17:20
3 Psalm 102:18
4 Luther’s Small Catechism
5 2 Timothy 2:13
6 Acts 1:11
7 The Nicene Creed
8 Revelation 22:14
9 John 17:24
10 1 Timothy 1:15