Last Thursday, the church celebrated the Ascension of Our Lord. Pastor Kuhlman's Ascension Sermon reminds us where Jesus is now that He has "ascended to the right hand of the Father."
Rev. Brent Kuhlman
Luke 24:44-53 / Acts 1:1-11
The “cloud” hid Him from their sight. Hidden. But still present. Yes, that’s right. “Lo I am with you always to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:20).
The Ascension doesn’t mean that Jesus is gone and that it’s up to us to go up to Him. He’s still with His died for and redeemed people. He never left. It’s just that we don’t see Him.
The crucified and risen Jesus -- is now the enthroned-at-the-right-hand-of-the-Father Jesus. He reigns! He lords His Good Friday and Easter Sunday over you. What He did on the cross He did for you. It counts for you. He is the sacrifice that atones for all sins. His Blood is for all sinners.
So I repeat. The days and years between the Ascension and the Last Day are the times for hearing and listening to Jesus. He is physically present. It’s just that we don’t see Him with our eyes. But we hear Him with our ears. Now is the time to listen. Now is the time the sheep are given to listen to the Good Shepherd’s voice.
Thus His mandate that the apostles preach in His Name “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
There you have it. That’s the church’s agenda. That's the kingdom of heaven on the earth: when sinners repent. Repentance. That means, first of all, that you confess you’re a sinner. A big-time one. A hard-core one. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Total sinner. Like King David you say: “I have sinned against the Lord.” And then even more: “I deserve nothing but His temporal and eternal punishment. After all, the wages of sin is death.” The enthroned Lord Jesus comes to you in His Holy Spirit filled Word of the Law and says: “Do this.” And what do you? You don’t do it! He says: “Don’t do that.” And what do you do? You do it! He convicts you of your sin. That you aren’t in control. That you’re nothing –except a helpless, deceived, dead in your sins, damned sinner! That’s the first part of repentance.
The second is faith. And that’s the heart of repentance. Faith that trusts another Spirit-filled Word of mercy: the forgiveness of sins. Preach in my Name Jesus says: “Repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
What are your sins? What have you done? What have you left undone? You are forgiven. The Lord Jesus doesn’t count your sins against you. Refuses to. He gave His life into death for you. For the forgiveness of all your sins. Name the sin. He died for it. Including all the ones you don’t remember or can’t ever recall.
Jesus isn’t in the mood to condemn. He loves to bless. So as the cloud hides Him from our sight He stretches out His arms in blessing. And that blessing is the preaching in His Name repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
The crucified and risen Jesus is the ascended Jesus. He is closer to you and me now than when He was with the apostles that Ascension Day a long time ago.
Jesus baptized you with His hands. With His own breath He put His Name on you at the font. After all, to be baptized in His Name is to be baptized by God Himself. Jesus buried you into His Good Friday death that counts for all your sin. And in your Baptism Jesus bestowed on you the Holy Spirit. Your little Pentecost! Power from on high with that washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. Born again in your Baptism. Christ’s very own new creation.
And every day Jesus sees to it that you live in your Baptism. The old Adam – daily drowned with all sin and evil desires. And then the new man daily emerges and arises to live before God in Christ’s borrowed righteousness.
Oh yes, Jesus is physically with you. In just few minutes He will reach out to you with His hands and bestow His Body and Blood in the Sacrament. And there He is to bless: “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” Listen. His words give exactly what they say.
Jesus has not abandoned you. He never really left. And He’s seeing to it that through His church there is preaching done in His Name so that you repent and believe that you are forgiven. In His Word and Sacraments the crucified and risen Jesus reigns among sinners. Reigning with His word of forgiveness that gives life and salvation.
In the Name of Jesus.
Created: May 22nd, 2012