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Third Sunday of Easter

April 6, 2008

Third Sunday of Easter             Trinity Lutheran Church
6 April 2008                                 Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

Peter.  What a preacher!  What guts!  What chutzpah! Here’s his sermon:  “This Jesus, whom the Father raised from the grave – this Jesus, whom the Father made both Lord and Christ – this Lord and Christ Jesus – YOU CRUCIFIED!” 

“YOU crucified Jesus.  YOU did it!  It’s YOUR  fault.”  Every church growth expert today would strongly advise against preaching like that.  After all, seekers will be repulsed by such a sermon.  First, find out what they want to hear and then give it to them.  Like ten biblical principles on how to invest your money.  Or ten biblical principles on how to have the life you’ve always wanted.  Or teaching you how to escape the madness!  Or enliven your congregation.  But never, never, never, ever proclaim from the pulpit:  “YOU crucified Jesus!”  They’ll never come back.  And you’ll never grow a church.  You’ll run it into the ground.    

And yet Peter preaches it!  For it’s the truth.  He doesn’t listen to the experts.  He leaves the results of faithful preaching up to the Lord.  “YOU crucified Him! But the Father has made Him Lord and Christ.  Jesus is the Savior.  You intended His crucifixion for evil.  But God used His Son’s death for good.  For your good.  Your eternal good.” 

How do you respond to a sermon like that?  A sermon that proclaims the truth that, “YOU crucified Lord and Christ Jesus”? 

Preacher Peter gives the answer:  “Repent.”  And the heart and essence of repentance is faith.  Believe.  Trust.  “Believe what I just told you.  YOU crucified Jesus who is Lord and Christ.”   And how does faith talk?  It says:  “Amen.  That’s the truth.  I did it.  I’m responsible.  It’s my fault.”   

Then what?  Is there anything else Peter?  “Sure!  Receive more from the Lord and God Jesus.  Let Him give you more gifts.  Be baptized in His Name!”

Why?  Surely there’s something more glamorous I could do!  A more glittering task that I can do to impress Lord and Christ Jesus!  Come on Peter!  If I’m responsible for crucifying Jesus, then let me at least do something to pay Him back.  To make it up to Him in some way.  That’s the least I can do.  Why should I be baptized when I can do something better?  Like . . .

“I’ll tell you why,” Peter interrupts.  “The Lord Jesus is always in a giving mood.  He came not to be served by you but TO SERVE you and to give His life as a ransom for you.  Lord Christ Jesus, whom you crucified, is luxurious and lavish with His giving.  Baptism is His gift for you. To be baptized in Jesus’ Name is to be baptized by the crucified and risen Jesus Himself!  He’s there at the water with His Name in order to rescue you.  When you hear, ‘I baptize you in the name of . . .’  that’s Jesus Himself speaking.  It’s Jesus Himself doing and giving.  For your benefit!”

“And there’s more.  Would you like to hear about it?”  Sure Peter.  We’re game.  Sounds like with Jesus there’s always more giving from Him.    “That’s right.  You’re getting the “hang” of it (pardon the pun)!  When you’re baptized in Jesus’ Name you receive two magnificent Gospel gifts.  First, Jesus applies to you all the forgiveness He won for you when you crucified Him.” 

For all sins Peter?  “Yes.”  Even the really naughty ones?  “Absolutely!  Jesus doesn’t leave any sins outside of His forgiveness.  He died for all sin.  He forgives them all.”
Wow, that just blows our minds Peter.  What a Savior!  “You better believe it!  He really is incredible.  Forgives YOU and those who crucified Him.  ‘Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.’” 

And now in Holy Baptism, where He’s dishing out the forgiveness of sins for sinners, He’s renewing and rebirthing you.  How?  Through the Holy Spirit.  And He’s the Lord and Giver of life you remember?

“Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Every one of you I say.  Jesus died for all.  He died for you.  So Holy Baptism is for everyone.  For you.  Even for your children.  The promise of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit is for you and your children.  For all."

Peter kept on preaching.  The sermon went on quite a bit longer.  And then it concluded:  “Be saved from this perverse generation.”  And the church growth experts blushed with embarrassment.  And yet the Word preached did its work.  Many people that day who heard Peter’s sermon were baptized – 3,000 people! 

What about you?  Are you forgiven?  What’s the answer?  The answer is:  “Of course!”  But how do you know that?  What’s the answer?  The answer is:  “Jesus died for me.  He rose for me.  And I am baptized!”  Have you been born again?  Are you full of the Holy Spirit?  What’s the answer?  The answer is:  “Yes, absolutely!  Because I am baptized.”

And because you are baptized in Jesus’ name you have everything that He’s won for you on the cross where you crucified Him:  forgiveness of all your sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  And where there is forgiveness and the Holy Spirit there is salvation.  The power, effect and fruit of Holy Baptism is really quite simple:  TO SAVE.

You are saved.  You’re died for.  Baptized.  Given to by the Lord Jesus.  And He’ll see to the growth of His church.  You don’t need to worry about that.  Meanwhile, you’ve got enough to do to believe what Baptism promises and brings: “victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, the grace of God, th
e entire Christ, and the Holy Ghost with His gifts”
(Large Catechism).  

In the Name of Jesus.     

From → "A" Sermons

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