April 2, 2017
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
Jesus speaks, and we listen. We not only listen. Jesus speaks; we confess. We take His Word, and we don’t interpret. You confirmands know that. We take Jesus’ Word at face value. We repeat it. We repeat it as we teach and learn it. We repeat among each other. We repeat it to other people. Always Jesus’ Word, nothing else. We don’t try and change them because they don’t fit with what we think. Jesus speaks; we listen. Jesus speaks; we believe it. Jesus speaks; we simply say, “This is what Jesus says.”
He’s the Prophet promised to Moses. He’s more than a Prophet, though. He’s Yahweh in the flesh, the God of the Old Testament, come to tabernacle among His people. We confess this: “Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true Man, born of the Virgin Mary,” confirmands: IS MY LORD. That’s why we cherish what Jesus has to say, why we take it to heart, why we let Him have the final Word: He’s God! He’s God, the same way the Father’s God, but He’s not the Father: “The Father is God only, as is the Holy Spirit, but the Son is both true God and true man. He died for me and shed His blood for me.”
Jesus gives His Word and Gifts, and we receive what He says we receive. That’s the way of faith. Faith stops with Jesus, clings to Him and what He says—confesses who He is, what He did, and what He says. That’s just what disciples do. That’s you! You’ve been made disciples. Through “baptizing and teaching,” as Jesus said. “Make disciples,” He says. How? “By baptizing them,” but also “by teaching them.” It’s Jesus doing it. That’s what John tells us in His Gospel, chapter 4: “Jesus was making more disciples, that is, baptizing them more than John. Though Jesus Himself didn’t baptize, but His disciples.”
Jesus makes true disciples through the hands and mouths of other disciples. Just like Moses’ staff was God’s staff, so also the disciples’ hands and mouths. Now, true disciples are those with faith, with the Spirit. That’s also wrapped up in Baptism, when they made disciples like Jesus said, as Paul also says, “[The Father] saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.”
True disciples are those who have faith in Jesus. They’re His followers, and just like the people who were closest to Jesus—tax collectors and sinners—so also His disciples are sinners. They’re redeemed sinners. They’re forgiven sinners. Forgiven in the way Jesus gives. He said to His Twelve, also to His pastors, which is what the Apostles were—Peter says so in 1 Peter 5: to them, Jesus says, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.” That’s just what Jesus says. No additions or subtractions. There aren’t even a “few provisos, a couple of quid-pro-quos.”
So now you, confirmands. You’re already disciples of Jesus. He made you that: “by baptizing you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He’s strengthened you as His disciple “by teaching you to cherish all that He’s commanded.” (Baptizing and teaching always go together.) You’ve been examined. I’ve absolved you of your sins, according to Jesus command. You’re ready to receive the Gift of His body and blood, which is given…” confirmands: “GIVEN AND SHED FOR YOU FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.”
That’s what Jesus says. Jesus speaks, and we listen. We not only listen. Jesus speaks; we confess. We take His Word and cherish it. Now, all that’s left today is for you to confess that word. Confess Jesus’ Word that you’ve received. It’s a life-long confession. What you confess today is what you’ll confess every day until Jesus takes you to Himself.
You’re ready to answer, and you’re certainly ready to meet Him. He’s made sure of that. He died; He rose—FOR YOU. You’re His and He’s yours. That’s not just you, confirmands. That’s for all you here! You’re His; He’s yours: His Water, His Word, His Absolution; His body and blood say so.
INI + AMEN.