Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May 21, 2009 Ascension Acts 1:1-11

And coming after, while they were reclining, to the eleven He appeared, and He disgraced their unbelief and hard-heartedness, that those who saw Him raised, they had not believed. And He said to them, "You go into all the world; you preach the gospel to all creation. The one having believed and having been baptized will be saved, but the one disbelieving will be condemned. And signs, to the ones who have believed, these ones will accompany: in My name, demons they will cast out, tongues they will speak, new ones...upon the sickly, hands they will place and the power to make well." Then, on the one hand, Jesus, after the speech with them, was taken up into the heavens and sat on the right hand of God. On the other hand, they went out , preached everywhere, the Lord working with and the Word confirmed through the following signs.

One thing is certain concerning our God. He is not left-handed. Not meaning to offend all you south-paws out there, but the Father certainly had a choice as to which side of the heavenly throne upon which Jesus would sit, and He ascended His son to the right side. This is not by accident, but from design. Just as most people have a strong right hand, so too does God. Jesus is God's powerful Right Hand to save souls. With the Lord's mighty Right Hand, your salvation is now at hand!

Since His ascension, God's right-hand Man has been busy. He is active, for instance with His Word. He is your advocate before the righteous Judge, God the Father. Sitting on the same throne, He has the Judge's ear, and as your lawyer, He argues on your behalf. Not that you have been innocent. You haven't. You've sinned & fallen short of God's glory every day! Yet Jesus is a constant reminder to His Father that you are now blameless for your sins, which Jesus bore for you at the Cross of Calvary.

That Word which Jesus speaks to His heavenly Father is.the same Gospel message proclaimed to you in this holy, apostolic church. As Jesus tells the Father that He has died for you, receiving your punishment in full already at the cross, so too does your pastor preach this message to you, week in and week out. You are forgiven all of your sins in Christ Jesus, Who died for you. You are blessed to believe this truth, and by it, you are saved. You may be absolved in Jesus' name of all your sins.

Your ascended Savior is also quite busy with His Own powerful right hand. You hear that he who believes *and is baptized* will be saved. Yet your baptism was not your doing. It was not some ordinance you are to obey. It is pure gift of God. And your baptism is accomplished by God's hand, not yours. It is Jesus' Own hand which pours forth His living water to cleanse you of your sin at baptism. He washes, He renews, and He regenerates your life, born again by His Holy Spirit.

Yet believing and being baptized go hand in hand. The eleven apostles were baptized, but they had trouble believing, and were chastised by Jesus accordingly. You are baptized into The Faith of God's Word. That's why this Faith is to be preached everywhere, to all creation, that you may believe it and be kept in the one true faith. For a disciple of Christ is one who is both baptized and taught all things Jesus requires. The Gospel never speaks of *knowing enough* as though the learning is complete.

As your ascended Lord rules over His church not by *rules* but by His gospel love, He is also busy in heaven. His body is at work as He prepares a place for you there. No doubt blood pumps through His veins as he makes ready your room in the heavenly mansion. And while doing this, Jesus does not leave us without signs of His activity above. He has, after all, given you a new testament promise that He Who died and rose again for you will indeed give you His last will and testament inheritance above!

For this reason, His now ever-living ascended body comes down from heaven this day for you to eat in the bread. The blood which now flows though his ascended veins is given to you to drink in the cup of His Supper. These are signs that Jesus is living and active on your behalf even today, forgiving your sins in this sacrament, and doing all that is necessary for your eternal life and everlasting salvation. For you know that where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation!

Yes, on the one hand, Jesus has ascended to the right hand of God the Father, in heaven above. Yet, on the other hand, Jesus is also down hear on earth at the same time, working within the apostolic ministry–His word speaking forth through pastors-and-teachers in the office of the Holy Ministry, and His works still being accomplished through the sacraments of Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion. For with our Ascended Lord, all these things are possible!

Hymns this evening from LSB:
#489 Hail Thee Festival Day!
#494 See the Lord Ascends in Triumph
#491 Up Through Endless Ranks of Angels
#493 A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing!

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