Sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 8, 2016 Year C
(Mother’s Day; High School Graduation)
Text: Acts 1:12-26; John 17:20-26
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them Your Name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them.”
These are Jesus’ words addressed to the Father on the night He was betrayed on behalf of those whom He often referred to as little children. These are also the words of every Christian parent. What Christian mother or father has not agonized in prayer over a beloved child? Perhaps one who is sick, or one who is wandering from the faith, struggling with sin, or assaulted by the devil in some other way? It is a faithful prayer, “I know You, Father.” Those words give confidence. Wrapped up in them the faithful cry out along with Jesus, the beloved Son, I know who You are, God. I know that You love those whom You have created. I know that You have mercy on sinners. I know that You have provided for the redemption of the lost in giving up Your own Son. I know that this child of mine is dear to You. I know You, Father, and so I pray for them to You. And our children are lifted up before the Father’s throne of grace, with the risen and ascended Son interceding with us and for us that our prayers might be a pleasing aroma before God like the burning of the evening incense.
And the Christian parent continues in Jesus’ words: “I made known to them Your name, and I will continue to make it known in order that the love with which you have loved me may be in them.”
The greatest evangelistic task is not a call to take the Gospel overseas, but to speak the Word of God in our homes. As the Psalmist sings:
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3 things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
5 He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
6 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments. (Psalm 78:1-7)
The Son prays for His disciples and not for the apostles only but also for those who will believe in Him through their Word, that they may all be one just as He is one with the Father.
We are caught up in those very words of Jesus spoken in the upper room. He is praying these Words for You even now at the Father’s side. He is praying them for your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren that a generation not yet known may know Him and be one with Him and the Father and with You.
In order that the Lord’s prayer for His people be fulfilled, He prepares the way for His Word. The Lord will have His twelve. Twelve tribes from twelve patriarchs in the Old Testament. Twelve apostles in the New Testament. But Satan enters Judas’ heart and he forsakes the high office to which he was called by Christ. He was allotted a share in the apostolic ministry, but He turned from it and guided those who arrested Jesus. The Twelve is broken. God’s people are not whole unless a Twelfth is added. But the standards are high:
“One of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
Three years of seminary were required for the apostolic ministry. One could not just be a believer, one had to be a witness, to have heard and seen Jesus himself. In a congregation of 120 souls, only two fit the bill. Joseph called Barsabbas or Justus and Matthias. The matter is handed over to the Lord; after all, it is His Twelve that is being made whole, and through the lots Christ chooses Matthias.
Matthias was not more worthy than Joseph. Matthias was not more worthy than any of the other 120 Christians gathered in Jerusalem. Nor was He more worthy than you or I, or Pilate or Herod. It is by God’s grace that Matthias was led to Jesus. It was by God’s grace that Matthias witnessed the Lord’s baptism in the Jordan, His death, resurrection and ascension. It is by God’s grace that He has His Twelve, Matthias included, who are witnesses. The Old Testament required the testimony of two or three witness to establish a case. God gives twelve men into the office of the witness of the resurrection. Men who are to tell the world what Jesus has done. He prepared Matthias and the other apostles so that you would hear of Christ’s death for the sins of man and His resurrection for your justification. Long before Jesus prayed for God to keep His followers in the unity of faith, He was preparing witnesses for the Gospel, because He would have you know that your sin that you cannot stop, your shame that you cannot remove, your death that you cannot avoid, your struggle that you cannot overcome, these have met their end in Christ, who became sin though He knew not sin, who endured the shame of the cross, who died in your place and who won the victory over all Your enemies that you may be one with Him through faith and share in His glorious resurrection and victory over all things.
By God’s grace, the apostles went out and told family, friends, neighbors and strangers. These passed on what they had heard through the generations until you have heard again today that Christ has won the victory you could not and gives it to you. Christ prays for you. And He prepares you to tell the next generation.
You may say, who am I that the Lord should use me? But if God by His grace prepared Matthias for the office of apostle to which He called him, will He not also today prepare those whom he calls as fathers, mothers, teachers, friends, neighbors and the like that we may each make known to the next generation God’s Name, so that the love with which He has loved us may be in them?
Who are you to teach Your children to discern right from wrong, truth from error, godliness from wickedness? Christ could pray, “I know you and these know that you have sent me.” But so also does God’s word tell your children that He has sent you. Thus you can say to your children (whatever their age), “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I make known to you the will and love of God.”
Then your voice will be the voice of the Spirit saying, “Come.”
And your voice will be the voice of the Bride, Holy Mother Church, saying, “Come.”
You mothers and fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends say to the next generation, “Come! Come to the waters of life and drink deeply from the well of salvation. Our Lord Jesus Christ will refresh Your soul.”
He who gives us this testimony says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Come, Lord Jesus!
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria