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Private Confession: By Appointment

Jesus Christ The Same Yesterday Today And Forever

April 11, 2021 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
April 11, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Easter 2
Jesus Christ The Same Yesterday Today And Forever

That which was from the Source, That which we hear, that which we gaze upon with our eyes; that which we beheld, and our hands have touched, the Word of life -- that is our theme.

Now the Life was manifest, and we gaze upon it, and testify, and announce to you the Life that is eternal, which was with (pros) the Father, and is manifest to us. That which we gaze upon, and hear, we proclaim to you also so that you might have communion with us. And indeed our communion is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-4)

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Today’s readings join forces to teach us that Jesus is the same in every generation: the same yesterday, today and forever. And from this theological fact we should gain great stability because we are part of an eternal kingdom. While we can never recapture the past, or bend the future to our liking, in Christ we have permanence, and stability that surpasses understanding.

Jesus says, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” (Mt. 7:24)

Jesus is that Rock, and we his church are built upon it. This is why the Psalmist can say, “the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.” (Ps. 112:6-8)

Today St. John details the Source of our stability, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Be sure that there is no other religion that promises what Jesus promises. Many talk about vague hopes of going to “a better place” or being re-incarnated to a better life; or salving their fear by asserting that when we die it’s over; there is nothing else.

But not Jesus.

He promises that because “he lives, we too shall live.” He promises that in his Father’s house are many mansions, and that he has gone ahead to prepare a place for us.

And so St. Paul exhorts us, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:2-4)

Yes, Beloved, the source of our hope is the Lord’s resurrection from the dead. Because of it we can boldly confess: “I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” And seal that mighty confession with the church’s contractual word of assent: Amen!

But remember that if our Lord was raised again from the dead, it is because he first died. He did not die as a rebel for a cause, or because he had done any wrong. But he died for our wrongs. For our debts. For our “high crimes and misdemeanors” against the highest and holiest laws of all. Laws that give life, but we chose death; just as our father Adam did.

But Jesus chose life! Life for us by his blood. As we hear in today’s epistle: If we sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous! He is the sacrifice that expiates all of our sins; and indeed the sins of the world! And again: “The blood of Jesus his Son purifies us from every sin.”

Yes, Jesus chose life. He had the authority to lay down his life, and the authority to take it up again! And he grants this authority to us: to lay down our lives for others as he did, and then to receive them back again, immortal and incorruptible.

Not only do we hear of Jesus presenting himself alive to his disciples on this 8th day after Easter, but we learn that he came back for the sake of just one who had missed his earlier appearance. For Thomas whose name should be changed. from “Doubting Thomas” to “Faithful Thomas”.

Long ago preachers seized on this reading as a chance to excoriate people for their weak faith; and that interpretation still lives in an echo chamber. But if we take a deeper look, and try to penetrate what is happening here, we may find that Thomas, far from being a Doubter, is a shining example of faith.

Thomas wanted what the other disciples had received one week earlier, when Jesus showed THEM his hands, and his side, and they rejoiced with great joy.

We learn from this that words are not enough to communicate the Lord’s resurrection. Not then. Not now. But we need the incarnate Christ as much now, as they did then if we are to believe.

Talk about being “baptized into Christ!” Thomas was!

Talk about communing with the flesh of Jesus, even as we do in the Lord’s Supper, Thomas did!

He was blessed by that contact, and we are blessed by the Holy Communion we share each Sunday with Christ, and through him with God our Father!

And now let us consider today’s first reading.

We find that shortly after Pentecost that: the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus “with great power, and that great grace was upon them all.”

We find that they were so wrapped up in heavenly life that they forsook earthly life. That they sold all their belongings, and distributed the money to the poor. A practice that to this day is still a part of the Eucharistic celebration, though in a modified form.

Modified, because this “socialist” life style did not last long before corruption set in, and was abandoned. But the idea of giving oneself altogether over to God, and to one another in love, that lives on!

Now if we move the clock forward some years we find the same Christ, the same Eucharist, and the same love being practiced by St. John and the people to whom he writes.

In the opening gambit of his epistle he makes sure that everyone will know that Jesus is from God, and Life is from Jesus. We learn that the Father whose “mercy endures forever” had compassion for us, his beloved creation, and gave his Son to reconcile us to himself when we had gone astray.

And O how astray we have gone!

Do not measure your righteousness by the culture’s irrational, irrelevant and ever-changing yardstick! Or by your own inner light; which is darkness. But by God’s life-giving Word. By Jesus who is the Light of the World.

He is the way, the truth and the life, and no man can come to the Father but by him. And so leave your pride, your past, your self-pity, and sense of entitlement behind and kneel at this altar where you, too, will hear and see Jesus. Where you, too, will handle the Word of Life.

Why does John preach? Why does the church preach today? So that people might be baptized as Thomas was, and be made worthy to participate in Holy Communion with the Father by the Son, as Thomas did.

Whatever experience you are looking for in your life. Whatever it is that you think will make your life full, complete, happy, restful, peaceful and calm: It won’t!

But to commune with God, and to share in the divine nature through Jesus, his church, his Word and his Sacraments, and a life marked by love … that is the living end. That is heaven on earth, and heaven in heaven. Amen.