Pastor Matthew Durance Installation (Jn 20:19–23)

October 14, 2017
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Greenleaf, KS || AUDIO


The Lord gives. Of course He does! He’s the Giver God, don’t you know? You didn’t doubt that, did you? Of course not! Only ask, seek, and knock, call a call committee—3 times, 4 times, 5 times. Only our sinful flesh would doubt the Giver God then.

But the Lord, as is His way, gives. He gives precisely when He means to, precisely what He means to, precisely in the measure and quantity He means to. Today, there’s no “please, sir, may I have another,” no “I need more power,” no some for you and none for you, no haves and have nots. That’s how it is on other days with rain, crop yields, money, or “whatever else we need to support this body and life”—His Father’s 1st Article Gifts.

No, here and now the Lord gives freely, abundantly, completely, and fully. There’s no limit here. “The Lord gives the Spirit without measure.” No limit to His “spoke by the prophets,” His “one Baptism for the remission of sins,” His “resurrection of the dead,” His “life of the world to come.” There’s only overabundance to His “forgiveness of sins,” His “communion of saints,” His “holy Christian Church.” His Spirit’s 3rd Article Gifts.

((3. The Lord gives Himself.))

Yes, the Lord gives, and He gives the only thing that counts, the very best Gift: Himself! The Giver God becomes the Given God. He needed to be that for your sake—given…into death…for all your sins. That’s the real and true giving of God. His Works for your salvation—His very own 2nd Article Gifts—are given and done FOR YOU. For each and for all the Lord Jesus gets pierced hands and side. For each, for all, FOR YOU the Lord Jesus works His buried-and-dead-three-days salvation.

But the Given-FOR-YOU God isn’t just given into death. Not just “suffered under Pontius Pilate,” not just “crucified” upon a cross, not just “buried” within a large stone tomb. No, He appeared alive behind “the door that was locked for fear of the Jews.” Thanks be to God He’s been given life again! We wouldn’t even be here today if it weren’t for that.

The Given-FOR-YOU God is the alive-right-now God. That’s FOR YOU, too. Can’t be any other way! His cross and death were FOR YOU; His grave and life-again were FOR YOU. And now, as always, what He says goes, what He says He gives, what He gives He says: “Peace be with you.” Full-cross, empty-tomb peace. Peace with God, the Father. Peace with one another through the Spirit. Peace through our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.

((2. The Lord gives Ministers))

The Given-FOR-YOU God is still the Giving God. He gives even as He was given: “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” He gives this today. He gives His ministers. Chooses them. Sets them apart. Holy Spirits them. Breathes His Spirit into them through the Word. So Paul says to Timothy, to you, Matthew: “Do not neglect the gift within you, given by [the Word] with the laying on of hands by the [pastors].”

There’s no burden here, only gift! A “good and perfect Gift” from the Giver God, “the Father of lights,” who sent His Son, the Given and Giver God, to die even for pastors. The Father, through the “proceeding,” the given Spirit, puts pastors in places to stand, not on their own, but on Jesus who said, “The one who listens to you is listening to Me.” You’re here not of yourself, but you’re here “in the stead and by the command,” by the “sending,” by the giving of Jesus, the dead and risen Giver God.

But the Lord giving ministers and pastors isn’t just for the comfort and gift of the pastor. More importantly it’s FOR YOU dear saints of Bethlehem. Such giving is FOR YOU, too. Not that you’d have an employee for hire, one you can get your way with, one you can boss around. No, none of that. That’s religion of this world.

Jesus gives so that even as the Lord stood in midst of His Apostles that first Easter Evening, so also you—how much more you!—would have the Lord stand in your midst, too. There’s no wondering where the Lord stands and speaks to you and for you. No doubt about where Jesus gives and is given to you. What Jesus says to His pastors, He says to you: “The one who listens to [them] is listening to Me.”

((1. The Lord gives forgiveness.))

Why such giving? Why does Jesus give His men? Why does He want you dear saints to be given to? Well, the Given God isn’t done with His being given to you. He was given for you, yes. What was done and finished then is doled out, superabundantly given in the here and now. There’s no “were you there,” no going to “Calvary’s Holy mountain” with Jesus. Nope, only He is here, only Him “standing in [your] midst.”

One purpose to H/his being here: “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.” Jesus means to say: “[His] forgiveness is [Jesus’] forgiveness.” After all: “when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, in particular when they exclude openly unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation and absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself.”

It’s cross won and empty-tomb assured, but Jesus’ forgiveness, life, and salvation don’t do you any good if off somewhere. But it’s not off somewhere. It’s pastor delivered! Here in this place, here in Bethlehem. The Giver God gives and is given here, through His man, fulfilling His promise to “be with you always.”

So, disciples are made: “by baptizing and teaching.” “Repentance and forgiveness is preached.” His “do this” continues: “Take, eat; this is My body. Take, drink; this is My blood.” So also: “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.”


The Lord gives. Of course He does! The Giver God became the Given God. He needed to be that for your sake—given…into death…for all your doubts about His giving, for your other sins, too. But, risen from the dead, the given-FOR-YOU God continues to give, even as He was given: “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” One purpose to such giving: not an employee for hire, not a lord over the Lord’s Church. Only one reason: “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.”

There may be a difference in the Father’s 1st Article Gifts, but there’s no difference today. The Spirit gives His 3rd Article gifts without measure, even the forgiveness of sins. The Son’s 2nd Article works won that forgiveness for each, for all, FOR YOU.

The Giver God gives, even the pastor to give the giving. Not 3 times, 4 times, 5 times, but freely, abundantly, completely, and fully. There’s no limit here! Font. Sermon. Body and Blood. But still more, always more giving!—publicly, corporately, even privately: “I forgive you all your sins.” “[His] forgiveness is God’s forgiveness,” after all. What Jesus says goes, what He says He gives, what He gives He says, and so, “If you forgive they’re forgiven,” and all that.

And that’s that. The Lord, as is His way, gives. The Giver God FOR YOU, through you, to you.


1 thought on “Pastor Matthew Durance Installation (Jn 20:19–23)

  1. Once again a shot at my dearly held pietistic feelings-“no were you there”-nothing left to slink away and sulk.

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