Thursday, July 05, 2012

A parishioner's notes of a sermon on Lord's Day 18

Reading:  Luke 24: 36-53

This is a very special Lord’s Day.  It is the most profoundly theological while also the most warmly experiential. 

Q&A 47, 48 are profoundly theological, showing clearly the difference between the Lutheran and Calvinist view of Christ.  The Lutheran position is that Christ’s human body took on all the attributes of divinity, including omnipresence.   This coincided with the Lutheran position on the physical presence of Christ in the Holy Supper.  The catechism points out that he is spiritually present everywhere, but not physically.

Q&A 49 is very experiential, and the sermon focuses on it.

Theme:  The Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven for our benefit. 

1.       He took our flesh to heaven. 

2.       He sends us his Spirit from heaven. 

3.       He advocates for us in heaven.

1.Jesus took our flesh to heaven.  Peter, the Emmaus road disciples, and the women told the other disciples that Jesus had risen, but they didn’t believe them.  Jesus showed them his scars, etc—he still has human flesh and bones.  They were not convinced, because it just seemed too good to be true.  So Jesus ate in front of them, proving that he still has human flesh.  Obviously, however, it is different from ours.  As Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 15, the seed falls into the ground and something different but essentially the same arises.  It is still the same, but it is also profoundly different.  “The dead shall be raised imperishable and we shall be changed.”  When talking about a spiritual body, we must note that ‘spiritual’ is not the same as non-material.  Rather it means powerful, immortal, imperishable, and glorious.  We will one day be where he is, and in Jesus we already have a glorified body because we are connected to him.

2.Jesus sends us the Spirit from heaven. He gives us power to be his witnesses, the power to seek heavenly things, Colossians 3.  What are earthly things?  They are the satanic vices:  anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, lying, immorality, impurity, etc.  By the power of the Holy Spirit you will be able to turn away from them.  Instead, you will turn to the heavenly things:  compassion, kindness, humility, patience, building each other up, giving thanks to God.  Colossians 3 lists both the earthly vices the Holy Spirit takes us away from and the heavenly ones he leads us toward.  Do not resist the Holy Spirit.  Don’t be like the people Stephen preached to, the stiff-necked people.

3.Jesus advocates for us in heaven.  Jesus left the disciples while he was blessing them.  He fulfilled the work of an Old Testament priest, who had to bless after both sacrifice and prayer were offered.  Jesus performed and performs those three functions, and he continues to pray and advocate for us.  The fact that he prays for us is full of meaning:

         i.            It assures us of eternal life.  He has given us the Holy Spirit, and his presence in heaven is a guarantee of ours.

       ii.            When we fall into sin, we have an advocate in heaven who prays for us, who sticks up for us, and who says “I died for that person!”

      iii.            He loves us enough to know our name and prays for us by name. The Good Shepherd knows us by name.

     iv.            He understands us.  He identifies with us as a human being.  He was tempted like us in every way.  He knows what it is like.  He went through it all.

       v.            He assures us of our fellowship with the Father.  Just as the Father has fellowship with the Son, so he has fellowship with us. 

The disciples obeyed Christ and worshipped him with great joy, Luke 24.  Like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, they went on their way with joy.

Sermon by Pastor George on July 1, 2012.  Notes, errors, and omissions by NPS.