Sermon Text: John 17:11-19
May 17, 2015 — Seventh Sunday of Easter
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. John’s gospel account the 17th chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
Jesus Prays for You
The battle for our salvation was not brought about by the forging of plowshares into swords. The war for your redemption was not waged against flesh and blood but “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12 ESV). When Jesus was conceived the prince of darkness coiled for attack. When Jesus was baptized, legions of demons assembled and were sent out. When temptation failed to snare the Son of God the devil desired to destroy the disciples, to sift them like wheat. Whenever Jesus came into town the demons fell at His feet. Wherever Jesus preached the demons fled in terror, their ears pierced by the power of one who brought all things into being, One who undoes the work of Satan and makes all things new.
Yes, beloved, the battle for our salvation was not brought about at the tip of a sword. The cost for your redemption was not purchased with gold or silver. God gave His Word. And His Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And now, in our text that incarnate Word is set to give His life for the ransom of many. Blood is to be shed. Life is to be given. Death is to be tackled, consumed by the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus is to be crucified for you and me and the world. And before the event of Good Friday unfold the Savior calls upon His Father, not for Himself, He must drink the cup of wrath in order to give us the cup of Blessing. No, Jesus doesn’t pray for Himself, He prays for His Christians, for Peter, and James and John and all who will believe in Him through their Word. Thus He prays also for you.
A Name of our Own?
Jesus prays for you because although He is risen and ascended, although He has overcome the world, undone the works of Satan and firmly established His dominion over all things, although the war is won, the battle rages on. The dragon is fallen from heaven but he has set his rage against the earth, and in particular, you. Why you? Because you have been set free. You are baptized. Once you were in darkness but now you are in Christ the light of the world. Once you were not a people, now you are a people holy and blameless in the sight of the Lord. Once you were his, now you are the Lord’s. You are not your own but you have received a new life, a new today, a new future. Your old has passed away and the newness of the gospel of Jesus has regenerated you. This is not of your own doing, not even of your own deciding, but it is all gift, a gift given you when you were baptized into the divine Name.
Satan’s attack on you is an attack on the Name. He wants to divorce you from God’s Name. To do that he attacks the Word. For faith receives the Word and the Word gives the Name. God has united His Name to His Word. But Satan doesn’t attack the truth of the Word. For the demons know the truth and shudder. No, he perverts the Word in order desecrate the Name and destroy true faith. Satan uses the Word to exalt you. He uses the Word to lift up, not God’s Name, but your name. And this is a very great temptation, for we all want our name to be remembered. We want people to hear our name and think, “now there’s a good person, there’s a powerful person, there’s a popular person, the sort of person I want to be. He’s cool and she’s pretty.” And who hasn’t fallen for such wily tactics? Getting us to focus on making a name for ourselves he gets us to focus on our works. Our name is connected to our works, what we have done and not done. Looking at our works we take our eyes from Jesus and begin to sink in the tumultuous seas of this world. We become like Peter. Walking by faith we can walk on water, but if our eyes falter, if Satan can get us to think about ourselves, be worried about our reputation, to fear what others think, to be more concerned about this life than the next, then he can work doubt in the word and further trust in our strength.
I Have Given them Your Word
Thus Jesus prays that His Christians are kept, preserved in the Divine Name. Doing so, He prays that you be kept in the pure Word. “I have given them Your Word.” The Word that calls us to walk on water and follow where Jesus leads is the same Word which enlivens our hearts and forgives our sins. “For this is what it means to abide and be kept in His Name: to keep the Word pure and unadulterated in our heart. For God’s Name, or His honor and praise, is that He is preached and made known, namely that He alone, out of pure grace, grants forgiveness of sins through Christ and saves us.”
The Word of God holds before your hearts the Name of Jesus. His Name is above every Name. At His Name every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess Jesus as Lord. Exalting the Name of Jesus will proclaim the Words and Works of Jesus. For Jesus has not called His disciples, He has not called you to live your best life now. He has not called you to exalt yourself but to humble yourself, not to make a name for yourself but to confess that His Name is the Name by which all men are saved, even you, even today. Jesus doesn’t pray that you be given power to earn your salvation but that you be kept in the power of the Name which has won your salvation with blood, holy blood, blood shed on the cross by Him who loves you and gave Himself up for you, the very One who is risen and ascended, Christ our victor and redeemer. He who abides in the Divine Name will therefore desire to abide in the Divine Word. The Word delivers the Name through water and the Spirit. And that Name is given and received throughout the life of Christ’s disciples. The Word and the Name make you holy because Jesus is holy.
The whole life of a Christian is lived in the Name and the Word of God. Every time we pray we do so in the Name. Every time we worship we gather in the Name. The Name is given with the invocation and again at the benediction. The Name is given when we are confirmed. The Name is set upon us when we are married. The Name sanctifies and makes holy our whole life because the Name is the source of our life and the certainty of our salvation. Even in death, the Name covers us and promises us the resurrection and the life! Therefore, as His Christians we confess the Name with St. Paul saying, “It is no longer I who live.” My name, my strength, my merits are nothing before God and heaven. “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. The life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave Himself up for me.” His Name and His Word are my strength and my all. These He has given to me as a gift, not because I deserve them but because of His rich grace and mercy revealed to me in Jesus in the water and Word! I am His dear child. I am baptized! I am Christian!
The World Hates You
And because you are Christian the devil hates you. And because the devil hates you so does and so will the world. You are in the world but you are not one of them. You are not of the world. The world is not your source of life, or joy, or peace. In fact the world will be a thorn in your side, used and abused by the devil to assault your faith, accuse your conscience, harden your heart. The world wants you to be like them. There is a great sifting about to come upon us. For the world is fed up with us Christians and our allegiance to the Divine Name and His Word. Surely you have heard it said, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are nothing like your Christ.” Ever your adversary, the Devil does not attempt to lure you away from Christ but to supplant the Christ of scripture with an alternative Christ, one loved by the world, one not known but imagined in the minds of men and conjured up by fallen hearts. The world makes up its own Jesus and seeks to impose false christs upon us Christians through false doctrine and persecution.
We’ve seen it already in our land. There is the Jesus on the left and the Jesus on the right. The Jesus on the left is proclaimed by mass media and liberal politicians as one who is full of love without judgment, as one who accepts everyone as they are and makes no mention of sin, or repentance, or faith. Those who oppose such a Jesus will be given a choice: Keep the Jesus of the Bible, the Jesus who forgives sins through His blood and calls the nations to repentance and faith, or keep your business. Keep your Jesus or keep your income. Keep your Jesus or keep your bakery, or pizza shop, or your tax exempt status. You can’t keep both. The world is more than happy for you to keep their alternative Jesus with their alternative lifestyles but not the Jesus of the bible. Their alternative Jesus allows sinners to remain in their sin. The world loves this Jesus and would love it if you did too.
Kept and Preserved in the Word and the Name
Beloved in the Lord, Jesus has given us His Word. His Word delivers the Name by which we are saved. The Word reveals His heart and His will and we Christians do not have the liberty to go against either. To do so would be to deny the Savior Himself and grieve the Holy Spirit. The Word unites us to Christ so that all He has is given us as a gift and all our works, our sin, our past is washed in the tide of His blood. Kept and preserved in His Word we are kept and preserved in His Name. He is ours and we our His. When we suffer the hatred of the world or the attacks of the devil, anything and everything that befalls us . . . it is His concern. We cast all our anxieties upon Him for He cares for us. We call upon the Name of the Lord and He delivers us. He calms the storms. He eases the burdens. He forgives our sins. He strengthens and upholds us by the might of His Word and the power of His Name.
Kept and preserved in the Word and Name of our God there is nothing that can overtake us, no sin, no devil, nor any misfortune or danger, for there is no power on earth that could do anything to sever us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Kept and preserved in God’s Word and Name we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. We live because He lives. We overcome because He has overcome the world. We suffer for the Name and we rejoice! We die and yet shall we live for Christ is risen! He alone is victor! We are His holy priesthood, clothed in the righteousness purchased for us with blood, adorned with the holiness that comes from the God who reigns, gifted with light and life. And today and always He prays for us. He prays for you. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
Luther, AE vol. 69 pg. 75