Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009 Easter 7 John 15:26-16:4

Whenever the Paraclete comes, Whom I Myself will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who goes out from the Father, That One will witness concerning Me; and you yourselves will witness, because from the beginning you have been with Me... These things I spoke to you in order that you not fall into a death trap. From the synagogues they will render you; but coming is an hour, in order that everyone who kills you will be of the opinion that he is offering service to God. And these things they will do because the don't know the Father, nor Me. But these things I have spoken to you in order that whenever their hour comes, you may remember them, that I Myself said to you. And these things from the beginning I didn't speak, because I was with you.

The Lord has given us in His church, the blessed opportunity to witness. But this is so very often misunderstood. We are not exactly eye-witnesses of Jesus like the Apostles were. We witness concerning a Jesus we have not seen with our own eyes. Yet we witness of Him just the same. It was difficult for the Apostles of Christ to witness in their day, and it is a challenge to each one of us as well. Witnessing is not easy, no matter how simple it seems to be for those smiling TV preachers.

Who are we given to witness? You know this's easy–Jesus! But which Jesus? Do we witness only the happy Jesus who heals the sick and teaches about heaven? We might like that, but that's not all of what Jesus was about. We might be tempted to only bear witness of the most pleasant aspects of Jesus' life and ministry, but if we do that we are not confessing the real Christ. It is a false Christ who is promoted as one who only wants good things to happen in His life or in yours.

Jesus testifies that the life of His witnesses would be murder...literally. The Apostles were indeed kicked out of the synagogues, mocked, jailed, and scourged. All of them but John were martyred, giving their lives for their faith. Witnessing isn't easy. It wasn't for Jesus, who experienced all this and more-- the hell of being forsaken by His heavenly Father at the cross for you. He bore witness of His great sacrificial love for you at Calvary, giving His body unto death, and shedding His blood for you there.

What are we given to witness? You might think that this one is easy too–my faith! But what exactly is *your* faith? You see folks in many so-called Christian churches get up and give their testimonials. "Jesus cured my cancer, reconciled me with my cheating husband, and got my kids off dope, and all that was just what He did last Thursday!" Is this what Christians are to witness? How does that help the one who has no cancer, or husbands, or kids? There must be something better for us to witness.

You bear witness not just to your faith, but to *The Faith*. This way you confess what Jesus Himself says about everyone, that each one of us is a poor, miserable sinner who deserves the wages of death. Then you testify to the fact that Jesus died for you and for the world, reconciling us all to God the Father at the cross. He has brought you there in Holy Baptism, crucified sinful you and raised up a new you in Him on Easter Sunday! This is The Faith, salvation by the death on the cross and resurrection of Jesus!

How are we given to witness? You may think you know this too–in all ways! Really? Has God asked you to go door to door to tell strangers about Jesus? Has He requested that you stand on the street-corners and proclaim God's word there? Does He want you to be that annoying person who interrupts every conversation with, "Yeah, well let me tell you what God did for me!"? Certainly, not all are called to be evangelists, or even to be pastors/teachers. How exactly are you given to witness?

The best testimony you can give of your Lord is to receive the forgiveness Jesus offers. You come regularly to God's house to hear His gospel, that God loves you in Christ and welcomes you to heaven for His sake. You bring your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to the baptismal font to join God's eternal family. You come to His table to eat His body and drink His blood for your forgiveness. You come to your Pastor to be absolved from your sins, as you would to Christ Jesus Himself.

God has given you His witness, in the words & actions of Christ Jesus for your forgiveness, life and salvation. He has given you to witness, as you receive His blessings in word and sacraments regularly. Not that this is isn't. Folks will criticize you, saying that you aren't doing enough. Those of the church of *you gotta* will find fault with your faithfulness. But you will not fall into the death-trap of unbelief. For the promised Spirit keeps you in The Faith, the one true faith, forevermore. Amen.

Hymns for today from LSB:
#613 To Thee Omniscient Lord of All stanzas
#539 Christ is the World's Redeemer stanzas
#842 Son of God Eternal Savior

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