About Our Lord’s Work — Sermon for Confirmation Sunday on Lk 24:13-35

Title: About Our Lord’s Work

Text: Lk 24:13-35

Third Sunday of Easter, Confirmation Sunday, May 4,  2014

It is on the Emmaus Road when Jesus meets two men who are dejected. They knew Jesus had been crucified. In their world view death was final and nothing could reverse it. And so they thought the forces of nature had again won. A bodily resurrection was not on their radar screen—not yet. And so they, like so many imagined that thieves, or some con artist had been at work; but the miracle of God; nah.

On this dusty, quiet, and for these two men a very lonely road Jesus met up with them. We don’t meet up with Jesus, he, Jesus meets up with us. Orphans don’t choose their adoptive parents. Adopting parents choose the adoptee. Sheep do not choose their shepherd. It is the other way around. The shepherd, the Good Shepherd chooses his sheep.

To help these two understand what happened in Jerusalem Jesus gives them a confirmation class. Listen to these words and you will see a confirmation class at work. Jesus begins by gently chiding them, saying;

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk 24:25-27).

So it is right and fitting that Confirmation Sunday is held this day. We have three confirmands with us; Lucy Garcia, Bailey Keierleber, and Courtney Mack. What a joy and blessing each one of these girls has been to me and their fellow students. Before the day is over I want you Lucy, Bailey, and Courtney, to thank Jesus for having given you such good moms and dads. Make that special point of thanking mom and dad for being such a good and excellent parent. You parents have raised three delightful wonderful Christian ladies.

And I too want to personally thank you, Raul and Maite, Lisa and Rick, Staice and Joe, you have all done a wonderful job raising your girls. They are lovely. I am honored that you allowed me, and St. John’s Lutheran church to assist you in raising them in the Christian faith. You know as well as I that Jesus has given parents, not pastors and not Sunday School Teachers the responsibility of teaching their children about Jesus, having devotions at home, and talking about the Scriptures. But this day I want to personally thank you for allowing me to assist you moms and dads in this high and holy calling.

Confirmation Class is about one thing and one thing only: indoctrination. There—I said it, indoctrination. In other words, I use “teaching”, for that is what doctrine means, “teaching”. I want to indoctrinate my confirmands with one very important fact: that in Jesus through his suffering, death, and resurrection for us all our sins are forgiven; all of them. That is the indoctrination which I am about as Pastor, Confirmation Teacher, and as Christian. I want to indoctrinate as many as people as possible that in Jesus God is merciful, that he loves sinners. And because Jesus loves you your life has meaning and purpose and we are not drifting pieces of cosmic dust.

I also seek to indoctrinate the children to the beauty and joy of the Ten Commandments. There is this common misconception out there that the 10 C take away fun and spoil our pleasure. Nothing could be further from the truth. Think of it this way. You have a car with an owner’s manual. Does Ford or General Motors give you an owner’s manual to take away the fun of driving a car or, to maximize the pleasure of driving a car?

The one true and triune God made us to live a certain way but the sin that dwells within always messes things up. That’s where Christ’s blood is so beautiful in that it forgives our many sins. Only Christ’s blood saves sinners. Though the 10 C do not save sinners they still are a gift from God. They serve a wonderful purpose showing us how life is meant to be lived as designed by our Creator—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So, in class, in addition to working our way through the Catechism; doing memory work, worksheets, singing our hymn of the day we talk about current events. We talk about things that came to them from school, their friends, and from the media and we always measured these trends and messages by the Scriptures to see if they are true or false and therefore either beneficial or harmful to our bodies and souls.

We also talked about how Baptism and Holy Communion restore what was lost in the fall. Yes, God is everywhere but he accessible only where he has promised to meet us. We also talked about the promise of the resurrection on the last day for in Baptism Jesus’ shed blood on Mt. Calvary washed over us in that water and in Communion we drink that blood of Christ in the holy wine, all for forgiveness, nourishment, and eternal life with Christ here in time and there in the new heavens and the new earth.

All this being said there are many people who have an historical faith or knowledge about the death and resurrection of Jesus. But having historical faith is not the same as having saving faith. Even Satan and the demons have historical faith in the death and resurrection of Christ. Before the resurrection happened it was only the Pharisees who believed in the promise of the resurrection. Our two men on the Emmaus Road did not. The two women at the tomb early Sunday morning were terribly surprised and frightened; why? Because they did not believe Jesus’s promise that he would rise on the third day.

Listen to the Pharisees as they in their unbelief confessed historical faith in the resurrection. But they did not have saving faith in the resurrection. From Matthew 27:62-63 we have:

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise’ (Mt 27:62-63).

Historical faith is not the same as saving faith. Perhaps an illustration[1] will be helpful.

In the nineteenth century the greatest tightrope walker in the world was a man named Charles Blondin. On June 30, 1859, he became the first man in history to walk on a tightrope across Niagara Falls. Over twenty-five thousand people gathered to watch him walk 1,100 feet suspended on a tiny rope 160 feet above the raging waters. He worked without a net or safety harness of any kind. The slightest slip would prove fatal. When he safely reached the Canadian side, the crowd burst into a mighty roar.

In the days that followed, he would walk across the Falls many times. Once he walked across on stilts; another time he took a chair and a stove with him and sat down midway across, cooked an omelet, and ate it. Once he carried his manager across riding piggyback. And once he pushed a wheelbarrow across loaded with 350 pounds of cement. On another occasion he asked the cheering spectators if they thought he could push a man across sitting in a wheelbarrow. A mighty roar of approval rose from the crowd. Spying a man cheering loudly, he asked, “Sir, do you think I could safely carry you across in this wheelbarrow?” “Yes, of course.” “Get in,” the Great Blondin replied with a smile.

The man refused.

That makes it clear, doesn’t it? It’s one thing to have historical belief that a man can walk across by himself. It’s another thing to believe that your life and future are safely in that man’s control and that he could safely carry you across and get into the wheelbarrow yourself.

It’s not enough to believe in the historical fact that Christ died and rose. My desire is to indoctrinate you in the knowledge that in your baptism Jesus will safely carry you across the falls of death. I seek to indoctrinate you from Scripture that Christ’s body and blood given in bread and wine will nourish and carry you across the great divide. As you come to church Sunday after Sunday to receive the gifts of the crucified and risen Christ the gifts of Jesus will carry you to the other side where the Promised Land awaits your arrival.

There is a terrible misconception in Christianity. I have lost track of the time people have told me: I love Jesus but I can’t stand a particular church. Think about it. Such folks claim to love Jesus while wanting nothing to do with Jesus’ blood bought bride, the church. I will now use myself as an example. That above type of reasoning would be like saying, “Pastor, I like you, but, I can’t stand your wife.” Don’t worry, that was only a make-believe example. Truth be known, what people say is probably the other way around.

Jesus adores and loves his bride, the church. He declares you and me to be holy, blameless, and lovely. And we don’t, and we can’t? Hmm, what does that say about our love and trust for Jesus?

Jesus has carried many people safely across the great divide, and he has never lost anyone—ever. You can trust in him! And that was the point of Jesus’ Confirmation Class with the two men on the Emmaus Road Easter Sunday afternoon. And that is the whole point of Confirmation Class here at St. John’s.

The entire OT promises that the Jesus would die for you, for your forgiveness, and on the third day rise for your justification. Jesus did this because he loves you, he loves sinners. What’s more, Jesus doesn’t leave us in our sins. He instructs us in his Word on how to live in the manner he made us to live. Remember what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “go and sin no more” (Jn 8:10-11).

If Jesus were a possession or an object we could put him in our pocket, or leave him on the coffee table to be covered with dust and forgotten. But faith in Christ is a relationship. Relationships are alive when we come to that person’s house, read their letters of love to us, and are nourished by the food they offer in their house, at their table. Your life with Christ is nourished when we are in Christ’s presence, here in church, having devotions, receiving Holy Communion and being part of his bride, a local church.

The confirmation class on the Emmaus Road continued when Jesus invited the two men to eat with him and the relationship of love continued. The Confirmation Class here at St. John’s continues as Jesus now invites you three ladies to sup with him as the relationship of love continues. Amen.

[1] Ray Pritchard, “The Great Blondin and True Saving Faith,” Crosswalk.com <<http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-ray-pritchard/the-great-blondin-and-true-saving-faith.html>> [Accessed April 25, 2014]

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