Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!
INI + AMEN.
Well, the Easter season is basically over. It’s our last Sunday in Easter. Seven weeks of extra rejoicing in our Lord’s resurrection. This past Thursday we celebrated our Lord’s Ascension. There is now a man on the eternal throne of power and glory! Such joy! The Christ candle, which symbolizes the Lord’s Resurrection presence among His disciples, has been extinguished. He’s ascended! But today we still have joy. Our Lord Jesus speaks such a beautiful Word in our Gospel text. ”That all may be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me…The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.” It’s beautiful. ”That the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” But this isn’t just nice sounding language. It’s very serious business. It’s not unity as in getting along. It’s not unity like the world has it, or like we would have it: “agree to disagree.” Ignoring differences isn’t what Jesus has in mind here. Jesus has a simple message for us today:
TRUE UNITY IS FOUND IN CHRIST THROUGH HIS WORD.
(I. There is unity in Christ by faith.)
There is unity in Christ. It’s unity by faith. What faith? The faith, the trust that Christ has rescued us “from all sins, from death, and from the power of devil.” We would’ve been lost had Christ not done absolutely everything “for us and for our salvation.” He ransomed us to the Father. He did all of this “not with gold or silver but with His holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.” All those who are Christians believe this: Christ is 100% Savior. He died and rose for all people everywhere and FOR YOU. All who believe this have unity in Christ by faith. It’s just as we’ll confess in the Creed: ”I believe in one holy Christian and Apostolic Church.” The Church is Christ’s body, and all those who have faith in His death for them are members of that body. This is an invisible unity that’s worked by the Holy Spirit. It must be worked by the Spirit. We can’t believe through our own work or powers. The Spirit does it. He’s the one who gives faith. He’s given you faith. “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit,” as Paul says, who also says that you were made alive when you were dead in trespasses and sins. The Spirit works faith in the way Jesus said. “Make disciples by baptizing and teaching.” The Spirit did this when He was poured out on you in the washing of rebirth and renewal at the font, as the Spirit testifies through Paul in Titus 3. That’s where the Spirit works. The Holy Spirit also works faith through the Word, as Paul says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
(II. There is unity in Christ’s doctrine.)
There’s more than just unity in faith. There’s unity in doctrine or teaching. Jesus wants us to take this very seriously. He wants people taught His Word, to cling to His Word, to not change His Word. It’s HIS teaching, His doctrine. Jesus says today, “I have made known [or declared] to them Your name, and will declare it.” Jesus taught of His death and resurrection that He would undergo for you. What was sin 2,000 years ago is still sin today because Jesus is still as much a Savior from that sin today as He was then! He also preached of His baptism, His Supper. He declares all the blessings and benefits. He didn’t just do it then. He said, “Will declare it” How does He do that? Through the Apostles’ Word! It’s how He starts this whole section: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.” The Apostles’ Word, the Scriptures, is where we hear Jesus’ Word. Where Jesus’ Word is, there the Spirit is too. Then faith! True unity is found when all cling to Christ’s doctrine without changing it, reinterpreting to suite our own needs. Jesus is quite clear: Baptism makes disciples. He also says it through Peter, “Baptism now saves you.” Jesus said, “This is My body…this is My blood.” So He says through Paul, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” We believe what Jesus has to say. He speaks Himself. He speaks through His Apostles. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.” So in Acts 2, we also hear that the believers “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, the bread-breaking fellowship, and in prayers,” that is, the Lord’s Word (preached, read, and taught), Holy Communion, and worship.
Why is this all important? Why should we seek true unity in Christ’s Word? Well, listen to Jesus’ prayer for you—Jesus prays for you!—“I pray for those who will believe in Me through the Apostles’ Word.” For then you don’t just have worldly union. You have union with Christ. For the Jesus who has died and risen for you, the Jesus who ascended for you, prayed for you—He prays for you now! Why does He do all this? He prays, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” Why? Eternal life for you! When you have unity in Christ through His Word, it can’t be any other way.
INI + AMEN.