Let Us Also Die With Jesus
August 26, 2017
Verse: Luke 22:28–22:30
Christ Lutheran Church
August 27, 2017
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
St. Bartholomew, Apostle
Let Us Also Die With Jesus
You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Luke 22:28-30
As the church marks the Feast of St. Bartholomew today, one of the Lord’s twelve disciples, our gospel plumbs the depths of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
When the Lord spoke the words of today’s text the end was very near! It was Holy Thursday. The last Passover, which was transformed into the first Divine Service, had just been celebrated. Jesus gave his church the ongoing memorial of his death even before it had occurred: the very memorial we celebrate today. It is the table of the kingdom that the Lord assigned to his disciples, and today it is ours. The nourishment of the baptized. The blessed paps that give us suck. Because there is no food, however highly FB physicians might promote it, that can sustain Christian faith, and make you immortal, but this one! Take eat! Take drink!
Yes, when the Lord spoke these words the end was very near. All the predictions that people think refer to the end of the world: wars, rumors of wars, the heavens being shaken, the “abomination of desolation” appearing. All this was about to take place. Not at some distant future date, that radio preachers make their livelihood predicting and re-predicting. But it would occur within hours, by the Lord’s death, which marked the end of the world.
The end of the old world, that is. The world as it was configured following Adam’s sin, by which Satan made himself lord over God’s creation; and by which death and misery entered the world. Jesus was about to bring an end to all of that! He was about to balance the cosmic books; undo the power of sin; neutralize the devil, and open the gates of paradise for all who will believe!
It was a time of tribulation such as had never occurred since the foundation of the world, nor ever would again! For when the Son of Man died, the powers of the heavens were shaken, and the world was born again. Born anew by the blood and the water that flowed from the Lord’s pierced side into the sin-parched earth. Our transgressions were pardoned. Our liberty proclaimed. Our humanity restored, and our reconciliation to the God and Father of us all was accomplished. It was earth’s finest day!
It is with all this in play that the Lord says to this disciples: “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials,” and it is this one little verse we need to focus on today.
When Jesus spoke these mysterious words his trials were already under way, but those of the disciples had hardly begun. It is true that they were hated by the power-brokers of the day because of the Lord whom they served. You, too, will be hated, ridiculed and excluded from polite company as often as you confess Christian truth, and conform yourselves to the image of the Son.
The disciples felt the anger, heard the insults, and they knew that Jesus was slated for a head on collision. And they realized that as passengers on that midnight train they, too, would be involved in it. But they did not know just how bad it was going to be. Not yet.
But when the Lord was arrested, and they were scattered like sheep without a shepherd, then they knew!
And when they saw the Lord of Life taken away to Roman judgment, sentenced to Roman execution, and affixed by nails to the tree of the cross: then they knew!
Of all the human hopes ever shattered, none was shattered like this! God was now dead. Evil established. "Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” That’s what everyone thought. But it was still Friday, and Sunday was yet to come!
Now enter St. Bartholomew. But what does this gospel have to do with him? This fourth-to-be-chosen of twelve men. Twelve men who would become disciples, then apostles, then martyrs, and then the foundation stones of the everlasting kingdom. For as St. Paul writes, “We are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone.” (Ephesians 2:20)
He was with Jesus from the beginning, and after Pentecost sacred tradition tells us that Bartholomew carried the Gospel to the Kingdom of Armenia, a land on Turkey’s eastern border where he preached with power for 26 years.
His preaching was so compelling, and his authority over the demons so total, that the king of Armenia called on Bartholomew to heal his daughter from the demons that enslaved her. When Bartholomew did it the king rejected the idols of Armenia, was baptized, and he made Christianity the religion of the realm.
But that meant that the idol priests were now out of work. And so with the help of the king’s brother they arrested Bartholomew; beat him with clubs, skinned him alive, and crucified him upside down in agony. Tradition tells us that of all the apostles’ martyrdoms, Bartholomew’s was the cruelest. But he endured to the end, and was saved.
But he did not die in vain, because his sacrifice still speaks today. Speaks to us and teaches us, who live in the lap of luxury, what it means to accompany Jesus in his trials. Or in the words of St. Paul: To suffer the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that we might gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of our own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith, so that we might … share in his sufferings, become like him in his death, and attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11)
That’s Bartholomew, the saint whose feast the church celebrates today, who suffered with Jesus, and may we do the same. For we are baptized, and to be baptized means to die. To die daily. To die to self. To put sin to death in our flesh, to be transformed by the renewal of our minds, and to give ourselves altogether to Christ. Amen.
"Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus"
1. Let us ever walk with Jesus,
Follow His example pure,
Flee the world, which would deceive us
And to sin our souls allure.
Ever in His footsteps treading,
Body here, yet soul above,
Full of faith and hope and love,
Let us do the Father's bidding.
Faithful Lord, abide with me;
Savior, lead, I follow Thee.
2. Let us suffer here with Jesus,
To His image, e'er conform;
Heaven's glory soon will please us,
Sunshine follow on the storm.
Though we sow in tears of sorrow,
We shall reap with heavenly joy;
And the fears that now annoy
Shall be laughter on the morrow.
Christ, I suffer here with Thee;
There, oh, share Thy joy with me!
3. Let us also die with Jesus.
His death from the second death,
From our soul's destruction, frees us,
Quickens us with life's glad breath.
Let us mortify, while living,
Flesh and blood and die to sin;
And the grave that shuts us in
Shall but prove the gate to heaven.
Jesus, here I die to Thee
There to live eternally.
4. Let us gladly live with Jesus;
Since He's risen from the dead,
Death and grave must soon release us.
Jesus, Thou art now our Head,
We are truly Thine own members;
Where Thou livest, there live we.
Take and own us constantly,
Faithful Friend, as Thy dear brethren.
Jesus, here I live to Thee,
Also there eternally.
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: John 11:16
Author: Sigismund von Birken, 1653
Translated by: J. Adam Rimbach, 1900
Titled: "Lasset uns mit Jesu ziehen"
Composer: Georg G. Boltze, 1788
Tune: "Lasset uns mit Jesu ziehen"