“A Double-Edged S(aving)Word”
April 19, 2015
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bossier City, LA
INI + AMEN.
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!
Jesus is risen. His tomb is empty. His empty tomb is a promise, a downpayment, an IOU for your empty tomb. His apostles weren’t imagining it. He wasn’t a ghost. He had flesh and bones. He ate broiled fish in front of them. Ghosts can’t eat. Jesus ate. The disciples could lay their hands on Him. You can’t do that with a spirit. Jesus had flesh and bone. Just as He did before the resurrection. He will always and forever have flesh and bone and one day your flesh and bones will be restored, resurrected, and glorified. You will be as God intended: perfect and holy body and soul in His presence forever.
Jesus said in His preaching and teaching that all those promises would be and are fulfilled in Him. It’s what was written in “the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” Jesus tells his disciples, after He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, “Thus it was written that the Christ must suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.” This must be fulfilled, and it was. But there’s something else that needs to be done. Something else that Jesus wants done. It’s not just for preachers. It’s also for hearers. Jesus speaks to both those who preach and those who hear. We can’t lose focus on what Jesus speaks here in Luke 24. It’s so easy to be drawn away from it, and this is a symptom of a prevailing and widespread mindset among Christians. But if we actually take Jesus seriously, then the devil, the world, and our own sinful selves will have less of a chance to change our focus. Jesus is very frank about it. He’s brief. But He’s also profound and saving. How could He be anything else? Jesus has a message, and His message is important. It’s a double-edged saving word.
JESUS COMPELS YOU TO HEAR HIS TWO-FOLD MESSAGE BECAUSE IT SAVES YOU.
Jesus is forceful about it. It must happen. He compels us to hear. Hearing and preaching go hand in hand. And
I. His two-fold message is preached.
It has to be that way if you’re going to hear it. Jesus puts it in forceful terms for His apostles. But it’s not just for them. It’s for all His pastors. Jesus said, “It was necessary that all the things written be fulfilled.” It was necessary for no other reason than our salvation. Jesus continues: “Thus it was written that the Christ suffer and rise from death on the third day.” God promised it. God delivers it. God delivered His own Son in Bethlehem, and the eternal Son, God Himself, was delivered up to Pontius Pilate. He died and was buried. On the third day He rose again from the dead according to the Scriptures. His being delivered up on the cross and being delivered from death in resurrection saves us, and makes it so we can be delivered to God forever. What was written is completed and done. But more is written. Jesus said, “Thus it was written that” there should “be preaching in His name.” It was promised and He sends His apostles and pastors to deliver His preaching, His message to all the ends of the earth.
Now, Jesus is pretty specific about His wanting His message preached, but He’s also specific about what’s to be preached: repentance and then forgiveness. Listen to what He says, “Thus it was written that the Christ suffer and rise from death on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins be preached in His name to all nations.” It was written that this two-fold message be preached. As Jesus has it there is no other message than first “repentance” to be followed second by “forgiveness of sins.” The Apostles and pastors Jesus sends are to preach these two things, and in this order. First Law. Then Gospel.
The Lord wants the message to go forth that we are all sinners. That we have no hope of salvation or forgiveness, we have no gracious Father in heaven in ourselves, in our own works, good intentions, or promises to do better. Jesus wants preached that we are to strive against our failings, our faults, our sins. We are to put them away and stop doing them. We’re not supposed to say, “Well, God loves me as I am” and then we keep on sinning. That’s not the Christian thing to do. Jesus says to you, me, to everyone, “Repent!” And as John the Baptizer said, “His axe is laid at the roots of the tree. Therefore every tree not producing good fruit is cut off and thrown into the fire.” Mourn your sins. Stop doing them. Don’t make excuses for them or compare them to other people’s sins. The Lord is displeased with such talk from His children. Mourn them. Repent of them.
“Repent!” says Jesus. So His pastors and apostles preach it, but that’s not all. Once true sorrow over sin takes place, then comes the other side of Jesus’ message: “forgiveness of sins.” The message where Jesus says, “My death has paid the price and penalty for all your sins. You will not die because of your sins.” Jesus’ forgiveness comes to us in the message that His pastors preach. Repentance won’t take away your sins, only Jesus’ forgiveness can do that. We must repent, mourn, and cease our sins. It’s what God demands. But forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name must be added. Faith clings to that message, and where there is faith in Jesus there God sees no sin. He doesn’t see sin because you’re there for yourself, but because you stand there in Christ’s own name, and He clothes you with His own righteousness, His grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
Now, as I said at the beginning of my sermon, Jesus’ two-fold message isn’t just for preaching. What Jesus says He doesn’t just say to preachers. He also says it to hearers. Jesus’ message is for hearing. And
II. His two-fold message is heard.
The message that is to be heard is the one Jesus speaks about. It’s the message written about in the Old Testament. It’s the message of the Old Testament. There is no other message besides this Christ-mandated one: repentance and forgiveness. What else does Jesus want preached besides that? He doesn’t say anything else in His preaching mandate here in Luke. He says, “repentance and forgiveness of sins.” Nothing more, nothing less than this. This preaching wasn’t just for one time, place, or people. As Jesus said, “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations.” It’s the never-ending message. We can’t lose focus on that.
It’s hard to not lose focus. We like to think, “That can’t be it. There’s gotta be more. It’s too simple.” Jesus’ message isn’t one of nice sounding platitudes that make us feel better about ourselves. He doesn’t give us life advice. He’s not trying to get our life on the right track. He’s not our life coach. He’s not a CEO. He’s not a vision caster.or anything else we come up with. He’s our Savior. He “wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” The truth that we’re sinners and lost, and the truth that He alone out of grace and mercy alone saves us by His death and resurrection and delivers the forgiveness won there to us in the preaching He sends His pastors to do. He’s the one who calls us to repentance and faith, and He does it in the sending out of His message of repentance and forgiveness. This is the only message He wants preached. If something else is preached it’s not anything that our Lord wants preached.
We must strive to hear only Jesus’ message. It’s the only message that saves. The message that drives us to sorrow over our sins. To mourn them. To feel so sorry for them that we actually want to stop doing them. It’s not a “Yeah, I’m sorry for it, but I’ll do it again tomorrow.” That’s not repentance. Mourn sins. Stop doing them. How can we not? As Paul says, “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” The new life that comes from Baptism. That new life that comes to us every time the Lord Jesus’ message comes and says, “You shall not die, but live. I have put away your sin. Arise, you are forgiven.” We believe that word, how can we not? Jesus preaches it. Jesus wants it preached. He wants it heard and believed.
Like I said at the beginning: JESUS COMPELS YOU TO HEAR HIS TWO-FOLD MESSAGE BECAUSE IT SAVES YOU. It can’t be any other way. Jesus is risen. It had to be so. You’ll rise in Him on the Last Day restored, resurrected, Spirit-filled forever. Separated forever from sin, death, and the power of the devil. It must be that way. It was written. God promised it. God delivers it. You’re delivered to Him in Jesus.
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!
INI + AMEN.