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Jesus closes the circle

Acts 1:1-11

Pastor David Ernst

Ascension Sunday
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, May 24, 2020 

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed!

This Sunday we conclude the Easter season and our review of the earthly life of Jesus Christ. We began with the first mystery, the Incarnation. The Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, put aside His divine powers and was made man. Born of the Virgin Mary, He grew up as a young man in the small town of Nazareth, with His baptism in the Jordan River He began His public ministry of proclaiming the arrival of the kingdom of God. And at the appointed hour He suffered and died on the cross in our places.

We celebrated the second mystery on Easter Sunday, when He rose from the dead, why who can understand that? But, we can trust His victory over sin, the devil, and death for us. In the Resurrection is the promise of eternal life.

However, the resurrection in was not the whole story. Jesus walked with His disciples for 40 days after Easter Sunday. The first person to see the Risen Christ was Mary Magdalene. She lingered in the garden after seeing the empty tomb and seeing a man who she thought was the gardener, asked where the body of Jesus was. When He said, "Mary," she recognized him and shouted "Teacher." Of course, Mary wanted to hug Jesus, but He said, “Don't touch me; for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brothers and tell them: I am going up to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.” Immediately after His resurrection, Jesus spoke of the ascension, as before the resurrection when He announced His death, He told the disciples He would have to return to the almighty Father.

With the ascension the cycle of the mission of Jesus Christ in this world ended. He was born to die in our places and to be resurrected on the third day, and He was resurrected to take His place next to the Father again with all His divine powers. But, He did not rise only in His divine nature, also in His human nature. Not only the Son of God was exalted, but also the Son of Man. In His ascension, Jesus raised humanity. He made space for us in the eternal dwellings. Because we share in His human nature and in His eternal life through baptism, we will die, but we will be resurrected and go up to heaven as well. Now Jesus is not limited to one place in His human body, but is present everywhere in His humanity as in His divinity. He is still true God and true man.

As true God, Jesus fulfilled God's holy will for us. But in His perfect life, as a true Man, he was tried and tempted in every way as we are. He was hungry, he was thirsty, he had to sleep. He felt sad, felt happy. Plus, Hee experienced everything in more depth than we do. He felt forsaken by God on the cross, and moreover suffered the wrath of God for sin. Therefore, when we feel sad, when we are hungry or thirsty, when we cry "Where is God?", We must remember that Jesus has felt all this in more depth.

In His perfect life, Jesus is the example for us of love for God and for our neighbor. Also in this perfect life and His innocent death He satisfied the justice of God. In His resurrection He won for us the promise of eternal life. He is now seated at the right hand of God the almighty Father, has received all authority in heaven and earth and is ready to judge all nations, the living and the dead.

However, here we are on earth between the ascension and the second coming in glory. The angels said to the apostles, “Men of Galilee, why are you looking to heaven? This same Jesus who has been taken from you to heaven, so he will come as you have seen him go to heaven. ” At His second coming, Jesus will not come in humility, as the baby in Bethlehem, but as King of kings to divide all nations into those who will pass into eternal life and those who will pass into eternal damnation. But, He does not want anyone's condemnation, so He gave the mission of proclaiming the good news of salvation to his church.

He told them in Mark 16: 9-20, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Also in Matthew 28: 19-20. "Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to keep all that I have commanded you; and, behold, I am with you always. , to the end of the world. Amen. " And in our text for today, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Jesus gave the apostles the mission to preach the gospel in all parts of the world. As a man in Galilee, Jesus could not walk to all continents, but His disciples could. And at the time of the apostles the world around the Mediterranean Sea was reached with the Word of God. Then, in succeeding generations, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. But, today, there are still tribes and races that have not received this Word, they do not have the Scriptures in their own language, although in the book of Revelation, John saw representatives of all languages, tribes and races around the throne of God. This is the great mission that does not end in a generation, much less a year, month or week. But, when God has decided that everyone has had their opportunity to hear the Word of God, Christ will come in glory.

Jesus promised His disciples the help of the Holy Spirit in this great mission. This is the other reason for Jesus to return to the Father. For Elisha to receive the double portion of his master's spirit, Elijah had to go up to heaven in a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire (2 Kings 2: 9-14). The spirit spoken of is the Holy Spirit. This is just a picture of how the church of God would receive the Holy Spirit after the ascension of Jesus Christ. This past Thursday, May 21, marked 40 days after Resurrection Sunday, so next Sunday, 50 days after Resurrection Sunday, we will celebrate Pentecost, the same day the church received the gift of Holy Spirit, as the Lord prophesied.

"And being gathered with them, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, you heard from me. For John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days after these. " Furthermore, in Mark, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak new languages; they will take snakes; and if they drink deadly thing, it will not harm them; they will lay hands on the sick and heal. "

We continue with this mission of proclaiming the Gospel of the Lord to the entire world. Not for victory in this world, nor do we know the date of the second coming, because the Lord said to them, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father put in his sole authority", but for love and for command of our Lord.

This is the mystery of ascension. Jesus ascended to heaven, but He is also with us. Many people do not understand how the body and blood of Christ can be present at every altar where the sacrament is celebrated. They ask, how can the infinite be contained in the finite? But, in the Incarnation, infinity was contained in the finite. It is also a mystery. How did infinite God die on the cross when God also continued to rule the universe? Who can understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity, three persons in one God? But, we can trust the realities that God has revealed to us. In these are the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.





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