TEXT – Luke 24:46-47 – Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.
THEME – Jesus is the substance of the Scriptures and HE is to be the substance of the Church’s Preaching.
OUTLINE – (1) Jesus is the Substance of the Scriptures. (2) Repentance and Forgiveness in HIS NAME is the substance of the church’s preaching.
GRACE, MERCY AND PEACE are YOURS this day from GOD our Father, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN.
ALLELUIA, CHRIST IS RISEN!
He is risen indeed, ALLELUIA!
The text for our consideration is from our Gospel lesson where Jesus tells His disciples, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.”
IN THE NAME OF JESUS, AMEN.
“THUS IT IS WRITTEN,” said Jesus. Written where? “In the Law, and the Prophets, and the Psalms,” said Jesus. For, “You search the Scriptures, thinking that in them you have eternal life, but these are they that testify to me!”
And so it is that Jesus confesses that He is the substance of the Scriptures. Not you, not me, not we, but JESUS is the substance of the Scriptures.
Of course, at the same time, there is much information about you – and about me – and about us. Not the least of which is that we are sinners in need of a savior. That we need rescue and redemption – but not from an external threat.
It’s not like we were at one point doing OK on our own – walking along – minding our own business – and fell into a pit that we can’t climb out of. It’s more like we were born in the corner of a dark, dank prison. The only light we knew was that light that happened to reflect off the dark prison walls and shine under the small gap below the door or seep through the keyhole. And that’s all we have known.
But the Scriptures from beginning to end teach us about one who was outside the prison – who willingly and intentionally entered into our cell with us and burst it’s doors. One whose own brilliance and radiance means there is no need for the seeping and oozing light that happens to make it’s way into the cell. THIS ONE bursts open dark places, shatters darkness, breaks gloom. THIS ONE brings help and healing and hope. THIS ONE shatters locks and breaks the chains that bind us.
HE is the one who promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to come and rescue mankind. He spoke with Abraham, led and guided Isaac, even veiled Himself in darkness and wrestled with Jacob raising up a nation through which He, Himself would come and dwell among us to effect the greatest rescue of all – our rescue from our bondage to sin and the eternal prison of death.
He is the one who went before Israel in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Who protected them from behind when Pharoah’s army chased them and sought to destroy them on the shores of the Red Sea. It was HIS breath that blew back the waters so that the Israelites could safely walk across on dry ground. He is the one who threw Pharoah’s horses and chariots into confusion before commanding the waters to return to their place and send them to their watery grave.
He is the one who stood before Moses and spoke mouth-to-mouth – not hiding his brilliance but showing it forth in Moses’ presence so that Moses face shone with the glory of God when he descended the mountain and when he left the tent of meeting.
He led Joshua into the land of Canaan and went before Him, the Lord of Hosts, the leader of the Army of God battling to clear the land that he swore on oath to give to Jacob’s offspring.
He raised up judges to guide and guard and protect the Israelites. He raised up prophets so that the people would hear His voice. He sets kings on their thrones, opposes the proud and the arrogant, destroys the sinner who rejects Him, but loves and receives those who hear His words of promise, and trust in His work of forgiveness and rescue.
We rightly know and understand the Scriptures when we see on every page of this sacred book the work of our Lord Jesus – His salvation – His rescue – His help and the hope that He brings to those locked and bound and imprisoned by sin.
In the ancient texts we see Him raising up a nation that was to prepare the world for the revealing of their loving and gracious and merciful God who would accomplish the worlds salvation through a baby born in Bethlehem.
But the world loves the darkness more than the light. It clings to its imprisonment of mind, body and spirit – and so, when the light shines, the world and sin shrink back, cover their eyes, stop their ears, and remain inside their cell – seeking to chase out and expel the one who came among them to rescue and save them.
It happened with Jacob’s son, Joseph, whose brothers hated him, selling him into slavery to foreigners – outsiders – for twenty shekels of silver. But he would be raised up to become the one to give them aid to rescue them from the the famine that plagued the land.
It happened with Moses who was shunned and hated both before and after God used him to rescue the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt. It happened with all the prophets – most of whom were persecuted, stoned or otherwise killed for warning the nation and it’s inhabitants of God’s wrath and anger over sin and calling them to turn back and be true and faithful to the one who promises forgiveness of sins and had showed them such blessing and mercy and kindness in their history.
And, in them, we see the Lord Jesus, Himself. When He came among us, born into this world to suffer, die and rise again to rescue and save all mankind from the dark prison of sin and the eternal condemnation of death.
Even though God revealed what would happen through the prophets – giving clear signs and testimony of Christ’s life and work – how when the Messiah came, “the blind would receive their sight and the lame would walk, lepers would be cleanse, the deaf hear, the dead would raised up, and the poor have would good news preached to them.” At the appearance of these signs and the clear testimony of these wonders, the world rejected the Lord of life.
Even this, God had foretold through the prophets. Even this He declared so that in this act of treachery on the part the nation that God had raised up we would see the testimony to God’s loving and gracious work of salvation and rescue. Just as God foretold through the prophets Jesus was betrayed by one whom He called a brother and He was handed over to the gentiles for 30 pieces of silver to have his body torn and to die. And then, on the third day, just as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the fish and was spewed out, our Lord Jesus Christ was spewed out of the belly of the earth – for death could not hold him, the grave could not keep Him.
The only reason for dismay and trouble and doubts to arise in our minds is that we don’t know and understand the Scriptures – that they point in every way to the rescue of God for us – His salvation of us – His deliverance from our own slavery to sin and our own eternal condemnation. If on each and every page of Scripture we do not find Jesus, then we do not see what our Lord and God has for us to see.
When we look at the construction of the tabernacle and later the temple, we see Jesus. When we look at the sacrifices offered by the Isrealites, we see Jesus. When we see Joseph and Moses and Joshua and Gideon and Samson, David and Solomon, we see Jesus. When we hear the preaching of the prophets, we hear Jesus – and learn of His rescue and hope and salvation.
And as we see Jesus, we begin to recognize our own need. We sense our own imprisonment and bondage to sin. As we hear His call for holiness and righteousness, for obedience and faith, we find nothing within ourselves but evil, disobedience and unbelief, and we are driven to despair that we can ever be children of God and citizens of that eternal Kingdom which He has prepared for us – because we know we are sinners – we know that we are ensnared and entrapped by our sin and we are tempted to close our eyes and stop our ears as if it were a fantasy or a dream – disbelieving as those in the upper room that night – thinking that the Risen Lord Jesus is a phantom or figment of our imagination. We deny the evidence and the truth and seek to convince ourselves that there is no escape – no way to leave our prison and our bondage to sin.
REPENT! Turn back from you despair – for just as Christ entered the locked upper room to grant peace and comfort to His disciples – and to break them out of their despair and grief, He has entered our prison of sin, shattered our bonds, and burst the doors wide open. Just as He led the people of Israel upon dry ground to the promised land through the Red Sea, He has rescued you through the waters of your baptism. Just as the Israelites partook of fellowship with God receiving grace and forgiveness and mercy as they ate of the sacrifices cooked on the Altar of the tabernacle and later the temple, we receive pardon and peace and show forth our fellowship with God as we kneel at is altar to eat of our Lord Jesus’ Body and drink of His blood.
Repent – turn back to God – and receive from Him the blotting out of your sins and the breaking of your bonds – that you may partake of the time of refreshing that comes from His presence.
For this reason Christ has come – and for this reason He will return to restore all things. For this, too, was spoken by the prophets of old. And this is the message He has put on the lips of His church to be proclaimed from now until that day.
The Apostolic witnesses have spoken – and their message goes forth to the ends of the world through us.
As we gather here – as we live in the world as His Holy People – we become part of that army that He has raised up to proclaim to all that there is hope and salvation – that there is rescue in Jesus – so that they may turn back from their wickedness and receive forgiveness.
This message has sounded forth from Jerusalem on Pentecost and continues to this day – that Jesus has conquered sin – He has conquered death – He has overcome the grave – He has won forgiveness of sins and salvation for all people.
May God grant us ears to hear – faith to believe – hope to trust – and mouths and hands and hearts to proclaim this wondrous news far and wide.
Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed, ALLELUIA!
In the NAME of JESUS – AMEN!