S-1434 AD/3A 5/29/2014 Hymns: (O) #341 vs. 1-3; (S) #381; L.S.#213; (C) #341 vs. 4-6
Texts: Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:16-23; Luke 24:44-53
Theme: “He is NOT in Retirement!” (Ephesians 1:18-20)
Question: “Are you counting the day to retire?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text is for our Ascension observance and celebration is from the Epistle Lesson: “…Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:18-20).
Beloved children of the heavenly Father, as we grow older many of us (myself included) look forward to the day we retire. We look forward to and sometimes even long for the day when we no longer have to wake up to the sound of the alarm clock. We don’t have to dress for work, and we don’t have to face the drudgery of the day. When we retire we will have the pleasure to sleep as long as we want, do what we want—Travel, go fishing, golfing and just have a leisure life. The time of work is done and the time of relaxation has begun. Retirement is a wonderful period in someone’s life to enjoy. And they should.
However, let us be clear that the Savior of mankind didn’t go into retirement as He ascended into heaven. He is not sleeping or snoozing. On the contrary, He is working even now just as He did when He walked the dusty roads of earth. The Apostle Paul teaches us in the text for this evening, though God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” He is still involved in our lives.
Paul, in the book of Roman speaks of Christ’s State of Exaltation saying: “…Christ Jesus is the One who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (8:34). Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ in His Ascension continues to care for His little lambs. As He seated at the right of God, pleads with His heavenly Father to always look at us with mercy and fill us with His grace continually. He continually asks the Father in heaven to forgive us our sins for His sake. He is at work even now. PAUSE.
In the teaching of Catechism we speak of Jesus as being anointed for three different Offices: Prophet, Priest and King. These Offices were not only carried out and fulfilled while He was on earth, but even now He is still fully Man and God and uses all of His powers to continue fulfilling these offices for us.
As a Prophet He preached the Word and continues even today to preach the Word through His ministers. He is the Prophet who promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide and guard us on our way. As a Prophet He warns us of the danger ahead and grants us the wisdom to follow Him.
As a Priest, He fulfilled the demand of the Law by offering Himself as the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. And now as the exalted Priest He continues to bring our petitions and requests before God.
As a King, He, the Exalted Christ rules over the whole Universe by His mighty power. He governs and orders the whole world to live under Him. He protects us from every calamity and keeps us in His loving and gracious arms.
Certainly Christ is not in retirement; He is still at work for us and on our behalf. He is working in our behalf to do what we promised to do but don’t. We have said and confessed we are His witnesses, but don’t always give a good witness. We have promised to support the ministry of the Gospel with our gifts of time, talents and treasures; but more often than not we hoard everything. We have said we will pray to Him on behalf of others, but how quickly, we, out of fear that we won’t be given enough by God to make it through the day let alone through retirement become lazy, self-consumed and just plain forget; so often that we don’t fulfill these promises.
While this may be true of you and me, it is most certainly NOT true of Jesus! While He was on earth He fulfilled the requirements of the Law even to the point of death-death on a cross. Then on the third day He rose from the grave. 40 days later He left the disciples and commissioned them to go to the ends of the earth sharing His story of salvation so that others might be His followers.
Now as the Exalted Christ, He is crowned with glory and honor. Angels worship Him and jump at His every command. Now He always uses His Divine Power to meet our needs of body and soul. Though He is no longer living on earth in a way that is visible to the human eye, He is and always will be with us to grant us the joy of living for Him forever and ever.
Before He ascended into heaven, He promised to come back to take us to be with Him. The room He has promised His Disciples both then and now in the Upper Room are all ready for that grand day when He will come back in all His glory, majesty and honor to take us to be where He is! That will not be for a short time. It will be forever!
Therefore, know the truth and hold it dear. Ascension Day is the coronation celebration of the Lord as He is proclaimed to be King of the universe. Jesus’ ascension to the Father is His entrance to the greater existence beyond the confines of time and space, being no longer bound by the limitations of His state of humiliation. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God, which Luther correctly taught is everywhere, having again taken up the power and authority that was His since before time. Yet our Lord is present with us who remain bound by time and space. He is with us as true God and true man, exercising His Lordship in the Church through the Means of Grace that He established, His Word and His Sacraments. We mortals in these Means of Grace can taste and see the King of the universe and receive a foretaste of the feast to come.
This evening as we observe the Ascension, we give thanks to the One who suffered, died, rose on the third day and intercedes in heaven for us; and will soon return to take us home. What joy awaits all of those who bow the knee before Him who rules the Universe and cares for her as a Prophet, Priest and King forever in the order of Melchizedek. Amen.
Now the peace of God…
SOLI DEO GLORIA