Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Tuesday... Pastors' Circuit Winkel

Easter Tuesday
April 14, 2009
Text: Luke 24:36-49

All at once, Lent and Holy Week and Easter Sunday are over. All the buildup, all the extra work, extra services and sermons, the joy and excitement of stepping into the Passion history, serving as a sort of tour guide for the people of God whom He has called you to shepherd. The Lenten fast turns into the Easter Feast. But now the belly is bloated and the sugar rush has waned. Some of the parishioners you saw on Easter Sunday you won’t see again until Christmas, or maybe next Easter. Some you may not see ever again. You start to come down off of the Easter high. The exuberance can give way to a certain weariness by Easter Monday. Perhaps even feelings of vanity haunt the preacher. Is anyone listening to the sermons? Did they really get it? Do they really care? Because odds are next Sunday’s attendance is going to be lighter than normal. The preacher may start to wonder how those who have traveled the road to the cross and the empty tomb can so easily decide they’ve had their fill of feasting on our Lord’s gifts. “Who has believed what he has heard from us?” laments the Prophet Isaiah (53:1; ESV), and we are prone to join him in his sad repine.

The disciples were weary that first evening of Easter. The rumors and reports of Jesus’ resurrection following so close on the heals of Holy Week had the effect of confusion and exhaustion as much as anything else. The doors are still locked for fear, and minds and hearts are still locked against understanding the Scriptures and the events of the previous week. But it is, dear brothers, into the midst of this very weariness and confusion and fear that Jesus comes with His abiding presence and Peace. “Peace to you!” He says to His doubting disciples (v. 36). The Peace of the Lord is nothing less than an absolution for their doubt and weariness and confusion and fear. There He is, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the flesh, risen from the dead, still bearing the mortal wounds of the cross, but alive! And He speaks His peace. He is no phantom, no ghost. He says to His disciples, “Behold, my hands and my feet. Touch me. Watch me eat. It’s really me! I, who have borne your sins and your death and your hell on the cross, am now among you to breathe my Peace into you, Peace with God, the Peace of sins forgiven, the Peace of eternal life and salvation.” And then He says to them essentially, “You should have seen this coming. It’s all right there in the Word. Everything had to be fulfilled that was written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms. I’ve been teaching you these things for three years now!” In other words, the real cause of the disciples’ weariness and confusion and fear is doubt of the Word of God, doubt that God will make good on His promises, that Jesus can accomplish the mission for which He was sent.

The minds of the dense disciples have to be opened by their Lord. “Thus it is written,” says Jesus (v. 46). And in opening the Scriptures to them, He opens their minds and hearts to understand that these things had to take place. The Son of Man had to suffer and die and rise again on the third day. And then notice, dear pastors, that He immediately moves to what must happen as a result: “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed to all nations” (v. 47). The disciples are to preach the death and resurrection of Christ for repentance and forgiveness of sins. They are to preach. Our Lord doesn’t make any qualifications here. He doesn’t say, “As long as they appreciate the preaching,” or “As long as they listen,” or even “As long as they can pay you for it.” He commands them to preach. And here at least He doesn’t even promise them success. What He promises them is His Spirit, and what He gives them is His Peace. This is what a preacher needs to preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear brothers, this morning our Lord comes into the midst of our weariness and grants us His abiding presence and Peace. From a psychological perspective (all apologies to our brother Jim), weariness is certainly normal after a long week like that we’ve just had. But as pastors, we can recognize it for what it really is: both the weakness of our fallen flesh and, perhaps more seriously, a lie of the devil to lead us to doubt the Word of the Lord and to despise the beloved people of God whom He has given us to serve. The antidote to this is nothing less than that very same Word of the Lord, the proclamation of Christ crucified and risen for repentance and the forgiveness of sins. It is good, dear brothers, that we are gathered here today on this Tuesday after Easter to be renewed and refreshed by the Word of God in absolution and proclamation and the Sacrament of our Lord’s body and blood, and then by the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren. For in this Word our Lord Jesus grants us His Peace: “Peace be with you!” He says to us this morning as much as He says it to the disciples in Jerusalem. And having received that Peace ourselves, weary as we may be, our Lord strengthens us to proclaim that Peace to our beloved sheep.

The emotional high of Easter Sunday may be over, but Christ is still risen. Sin is forgiven, Satan is defeated, and death is in its death throes. And our people? Many of them do get it, thanks be to God. This is the Spirit at work in the Word. Many of them do appreciate it, and those who are faithful may never know the gift of God that they are to their pastors and to their fellow believers. But one thing is certain: We can trust that the Word of Christ, the preaching of His death and resurrection for repentance and the forgiveness of sins will always be powerful and effective, even in spite of us and our feelings of weariness and vanity. The emotional high may be over, but not the truth of His Word and the activity of the Spirit in preaching and Sacrament. We pastors have a great privilege to be God’s mouthpiece, to speak the Word of the cross and empty tomb, to speak repentance and the forgiveness of sins. And when we are weary, our Lord Christ is with us, in the midst of our weariness, risen yet bearing the wounds of the cross, speaking His Peace. “Peace to you.” Be refreshed and renewed, dear brothers, by this Word of our Lord. Your sins are forgiven. Christ is risen. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Blogger Rev. Jim Roemke said...

Excellent sermon, dear brother. Just what my poor miserable soul needed to hear. Thank you for always pointing me to the blessing of Christ crucified for sinners.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Pastor Krenz said...

Thank you, dear brother Jim. The Lord be with you.

6:25 PM  

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