Christ Lutheran Church
May 14, 2023
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
In That Day
Yet a little while and the world will not see me but you will Behold me. Because I live you also will live. In that day you yourselves will know that I am in my Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” John 14:19-21
Mystery is essential for our well-being!
The difference between a mystery and a secret is that once the secret is revealed it is over; but you can never exhaust mystery. For every stone you turn over, there is another beneath it, and another beneath that.
But when it comes to mystery the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” By flesh in this case we mean our pride! Our desire to “be like God” by eating from a tree that is not the Cross of Jesus. By eating a faux sacrament and communing with “the father of lies,” who in the Lord’s own words was “a murderer from the beginning.”
It is the same temptation our First Parents succumbed to and brought ruin on all their children, ruin on us, because we are those children.
But glory be to Jesus Christ! Because what the First Adam destroyed the Second Adam restored. And so do not look for heaven on earth because it is not here; nor can it be manufactured by Marxists.
Now if the Lord’s words in today’s gospel sound mysterious, they are! And be glad because the mystery of Christ will nourish us unto the ages of ages; and feed our drooping souls to the full. In Christ we find satisfaction. In the mystery of Christ we are eternally glad.
Speaking of mystery, in the Easter Orthodox church there is an “icon screen” that separates the altar from the worshipers. If you have not seen one google “icon screen” and you will see a wall of mysterious, but delightful Scriptural images. The Lord himself, his apostles, the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints.
In the center of the Icon Screen there is a set of doors into which only the priest may enter. And for the longest time those doors remained closed during the consecration. But modern man, whose sinful pride makes him think that Christ is common, and that he has a “right to know” whatever he wants to know … modern man we say now demands that the gates be open to eliminate the mystery.
But in the past the pious Orthodox soul did not want to see the consecration happen! But waited eagerly and faithfully for the priest to come back through the doors, bringing the Flesh and Blood of Christ with him from the altar, to feed their hungry souls with Living Bread.
Scripture as a whole provides us with enough beautiful mystery to satisfy our hungry souls for a life time. But the chief jewel in Scripture’s crown is St. John’s gospel that soars majestically above all the rest. And the eagle’s wings are chapters 13 through 17 from which we are reading today. Because in those chapters Jesus and the disciples are suspended between the present and the future. Between his presence among his people in human form, and his presence among them in Sacramental form. This is what Jesus means when he says, “A little while and the world will not see me, but you will Behold me.”
Jesus also says that “if any man love me he will keep my commandments.” What commandments? He gave 2 that night. First, love one another as I have loved you. This Sacrament is above all else a bond of love. Love of God for man, man for God, and man for one another. Without love there can be no sacrament. But with it there is: faith towards God, and fervent love towards one another, as we pray in the post-communion Collect.
His other command that night, though not mentioned by St. John, was “Do this in remembrance of me.” And so the Holy Sacrament far from being a burden, part time pursuit, religious hobby, or social gathering is and constitutes the true worship of God, without which no man can live. Not imaginary worship that lapsed Christians like to talk about. Or worship rendered long ago, like a meal eaten long ago. But in this Divine Service.
Jesus also says, “Because I live you will live also,” which was a reference to his own bodily resurrection from the tomb, and ours as well by which we can confidently confess, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
Jesus says, “In that day you yourselves will know that I am in my Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” What day is that?
It is today! Sunday! The “8th Day of the week and 1st Day of the New Creation. “The Day of Salvation,” (2 Cor. 6:2). The day that the Lord has acted. The day that we leave the earth and enter the first level of heaven.
The day that we engage the mysteries, and begin to learn what Jesus means when he says: “Then you will know that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and I in you.”
This is the language of tender love! The patois of the God/Man and his bride the Church entangled in a loving embrace like no other, so that we can no longer distinguish where the one leaves off, and the other begins. All this is “seen and known,” as the Lord says, in the Feast we partake of this day. Apart from which we know nothing.
What is our warrant for such a claim?
First, in Luke 24 where Jesus temporarily blinds the eyes of the Emmaus disciples so that they would not recognize him; but who regain their sight at the “breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24:35) (This was the 2nd Holy Communion.)
Secondly, in John 21 where eagle-eyed John who sees the Lord on the shore preparing food on a charcoal fire, an Isaiah-like altar, and cries out in ecstasy across the water: “It is the Lord! (This was the 3rd Holy Communion). And may we say the same today as we behold Jesus on the altar before us today.
And so don’t look for Jesus on billboards, Super Bowl ads, or at www.jesusonline.com because he is not there. But he is here with us and for us, to forgive us our sins. A mystery inexhaustible: “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” (Col 1:27)
And the benefits we obtain here are endless because we are in Jesus, who is in the Father, and he is in us we have all that we need for time and eternity. Amen.