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Video of the Divine Service here.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Ava, Jameson, Jonas, and Salem, what the Lord said to His disciples, I now say to you: I still have many things to tell you, but you are not able to bear them now. Of course, that’s true for every single one of us. It doesn’t matter if it’s a few years of Sunday school, two years of confirmation instruction, or 50 years of adult Bible study: Jesus still has more to say. His word is inexhaustible. We can never get to the end of it, or finish it. He said to make disciples by baptizing and teaching them everything that I commanded you. That will not be finished until our lives our finished. We will never be able to hear everything the Lord has to say.
He always has more to say. And He sends to you and to all of us His Holy Spirit so that we will hear it and believe it. And the Holy Spirit doesn’t make up something else to tell you, something other than what Jesus has said. He speaks what He hears from Jesus, who has everything that the Father has. The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit speak to you a single word made flesh, so that you will always hear and believe Him.
But we cannot hear it all at once, not on a Sunday, or during a single Church Year, or during confirmation, or at any other time. We cannot bear it all. So He delivers it to us throughout our lives, giving us just what we need at a given time: the same Word given to all and given to each. He gives you this same word over and over, because everything else around us changes. Nothing is stable, nothing is secure; everything shifts and moves at all times—and more and more, it seems. So we prayed a few minutes ago that among the many changes of this world, God would fix our hearts where true joys are found.
Jesus says that His disciples will have sorrow, because He’s about to be crucified, and they won’t see Him for a while. But then they will see Him, and when He sees them, then they will rejoice and no one will be able to take their joy from them. They have sorrow when He dies, but when He appears in their midst and shows them His hands and side, then they rejoice. No one can take their joy from them because no one can take Jesus from them. No one can kill their joy, because no one can kill Jesus anymore. He is their joy, and He is alive forever.
No doubt the changes of this world haven’t slowed down since Jesus ascended into heaven. Your life will undergo changes; your Christian life won’t be all sunshine and light, as the questions about remaining faithful, even unto death, tell us. Sometimes you will have sorrow, and sometimes you will be happy. But your joy doesn’t depend on any of that. It doesn’t depend on whether things are going well for you or badly; whether you feel good or bad. True joys are found in Jesus, and He is fixing your hearts in Him. Your heart cannot be fixed on what is always changing, always shifting, always up and down. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He wants to fix your hearts on His, so He keeps speaking His words, He keeps delivering you the forgiveness and life you can’t find in yourself or in the world. He will continue to feed you His body and blood, as you are about to receive this morning.
Whatever else shifts in your life, you can find your fixed star where Jesus has promised to be for and among His baptized people. And what He began in your baptism, He will finish. And John sees a vision of the finish: a new heavens and a new earth; a new Jerusalem; look, I am making all things new, He says. New and new and new, and all things new. The old things, sin and death and sickness and sorrow, will no longer be remembered, because they will have no place in the new creation. He will wipe away every tear from your eyes and death will be no more. There will be no more mourning or crying or pain anymore. And it is done. It was finished in Jesus’ own suffering and death and pain and tears. The only thing that remains is for John’s vision to become our reality.
Jesus has much more to say to you and to all of us. Do not neglect His Word, by which He binds you to Himself. Do not neglect His Supper, by which He feeds and strengthens you. Do not neglect the gathering together of God’s people in Christ. Here is where you will find the Rock who does not change, among all the many changes of this world. He is your armor; He is the Word who is the Light of the world and the light for your path; He is your Good Shepherd, who will be your life and everything; He is the living water, with whom you will never thirst again. He is your joy. He has much more to say to you, until the day when He sees you and you see Him, and there will be no more sorrow, only joy.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV). Amen.
— Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 5/17/19