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Third Sunday of Easter

Luke 24:36–49

James T. Batchelor

Easter 3, series B
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Sun, Apr 19, 2015 

The appearances of Christ after His resurrection are so full of meaning.  You not only have the obvious teaching that Jesus rose from the dead, but you also have many other teachings concerning the life of the Church.  Last week, we not only learned that Jesus rose from the dead, but we also learned that Jesus established the office of the Holy Ministry and gave it the authority to forgive sins.  Todays Gospel once again shows us that Jesus rose from the dead, and it also teaches us how to interpret the Bible and what the church is supposed to proclaim.

Todays reading from the Gospel account of Luke once again has Jesus showing Himself to the disciples.  Once again, Jesus invited the disciples to examine the wounds of the crucifixion.  He said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. (Luke 24:3839) Jesus very much wants the disciples to realize that He is no mere spirit.  They are not just seeing things.  He is the real flesh and blood Jesus risen from the dead.

Then, when they still seemed to struggle with idea that Jesus was a real flesh and blood person, He asked them, Have you anything here to eat? 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate before them. (Luke 24:4143) Jesus really wants them to understand that He is truly risen from the dead in His own flesh and blood body.

After Jesus demonstrated His resurrection, He taught the disciples a very important principle for the proper understanding of the Bible.  44Then he said to them, These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. (Luke 24:44) Here Jesus instructs the disciples and us that the correct way to understand the Bible is to find Jesus in every passage.  The Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms is what we call the Old Testament.  Jesus basically showed the disciples that the entire Old Testament is about Him.

Jesus then gave the disciples the precise meaning of the Scriptures.  He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:4547) When Jesus says, Thus it is written, He is saying that this is what the Bible says.  Since Jesus is the Christ, He Himself has accomplished the suffering and the rising from the dead.  He also proclaimed repentance and the forgiveness of sins until He ascended into heaven.  In todays Gospel, He passed that proclamation on to His disciples.  Each generation has passed that mission on to the next.  This is the mission statement that Jesus gave to the church proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in the name of Christ.  This is an ongoing mission that will last until the Lord returns on the Last Day.  Christs instructions guarantee that when the Apostles write the books of the New Testament, those books will proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in the name of Christ.  This means that the New Testament will also be about Jesus since He is the source of forgiveness.

What does it mean to proclaim repentance?  The Augsburg Confession says, Repentance consists of two parts.  One part is contrition, that is, terrors striking the conscience through the knowledge of sin.  The other part is faith, which is born of the Gospel [Romans 10:17] or the Absolution and believes that for Christs sake, sins are forgiven. (AC: I, art. xii, par. 35) So step one in the proclamation of repentance is the proclamation of sin in such a way that the punishment you deserve for your sin strikes terror in you.  The second step in the proclamation of repentance is to point you to Christ and His work to save you from that terrifying punishment.

What does it mean to proclaim forgiveness?  Even though you are guilty and deserve punishment here on earth and forever in hell, God, for Christs sake, declares you righteous.  By His death, Christ made satisfaction for our sins. (AC: I, art. iv, par. 2) The proclamation of forgiveness begins with the proclamation of Jesus earning forgiveness for you on the cross.  It also includes the proclamation of the Holy Spirit delivering forgiveness to you by Word and Sacrament.  It includes the proclamation of the Holy Spirit working faith in you so that you receive the benefits of forgiveness.  It includes describing the benefits of salvation and eternal life that come with forgiveness.

Peter gives an excellent example of the proclamation of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in todays first reading.  The Holy Spirit had just worked through Peter in order to heal a lame man.  After Peter healed the lame man, he went into the temple area.  The man who had been lame went with Peter.  The man who had been lame was now hopping, and skipping, and jumping for joy as he went up to the temple.  This drew the attention of the crowds. 

As the crowd gathered, Peter began proclaiming the terror of sin: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. (Acts 3:1315) Peter flat out told the crowd that they were guilty of crucifying Jesus who was not only innocent, but is also the Son of God.

Now listen to his proclamation of the second part of repentance along with the proclamation of forgiveness: Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. (Acts 3:1921) See how Peter points the crowd to Jesus.  He describes forgiveness with the words, that your sins may be blotted out. Blotting out sins is another way of talking about forgiveness.

The interesting thing about Peters sermon is that not everyone who heard his sermon participated in the actual conspiracy to kill Jesus.  In fact, when you study Peters other sermons, you discover that he regularly accused his hearers of killing Jesus even if they werent even in Jerusalem on Good Friday.  After a while you begin to realize that when Peter accuses people of killing Jesus, he is not just talking about the people who conspired to crucify Jesus on Good Friday, but he is talking about all our sin that caused Gods wrath to pour out on Jesus as He hung on the cross.  If Peter were here today, he would accuse us of killing the Lord of Life.  How?  With our sins.

With what sins have you crucified the Lord of Life.  Have you listened to gossip without checking the facts?  Do you stubbornly defend your own opinion rather than stubbornly defending the teachings of God that we find in His Word?  Are you arrogant enough to believe that you dont need to join your fellow Christians in Bible study?  Who is number one in your life, you or God?  Jesus said the church should proclaim repentance and that repentance should terrify you by revealing the punishment you have earned with your sin.  The proclamation of repentance should be frightening.  Do you really understand that if God were 100% fair, you would go to hell?  If not, you have not fully repented.

Thank the Lord that He is not fair.  Instead, Jesus did the most unfair thing possible.  Even though He was perfectly innocent, He exchanged His holy righteousness for your sin.  He earned forgiveness for you with His innocent suffering and death on the cross and the shedding of His holy, precious blood.  For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21) The great exchange that Jesus made with you as He died on the cross is the most unfair thing that has ever happened.  It is also the source of the forgiveness of sins for you.

Although the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins begins in terror, the end result is the greatest comfort the comfort that your sins are forgiven the comfort that eternal life is already yours.  This is the comfort that the Apostle John gives in the beginning of todays epistle: See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3:1)

Christ has instructed His church to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sin in His name.  Our order of service should proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sin in His name.  Our preaching and teaching should proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sin in His name.  Our responses and singing should proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sin in His name.  Anything that says nothing about repentance and the forgiveness of sin in the name of Christ does not belong in our service.

Christ has risen.  He teaches His church to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sin in the name of Christ.  The proclamation of repentance produces honest terror with the law and then points you to Christ.  The proclamation of the forgiveness of sins gives the greatest comfort for it assures you that your sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ on the cross.  That forgiveness assures you that you are a child of God and will live with Him in eternal joy.  Amen

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