Saturday, May 9, 2015

There's more to come but you can't bear it!

Sermon for a weekday Eucharist, preached Thursday, May 7, 2015.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”  What did you think when you heard this?  I will tell you what I thought: This is not good!

There is a fear in Christians that God has hidden some things from us that we don’t want to know, some secrets that will surely disappoint us.  Mom or dad will be strangers to us in heaven or Fluffy our dog won’t get into heaven.  Or maybe worse.  The sinful pleasures we gave up on earth will not be replaced by better things in heaven.  We will live with our regrets when we could have continued our guilty pleasures and still at the last minute called upon the Lord and been saved.  It is sin itself that has predisposed us to fear God and distrust Him.

So what is Jesus talking about – the things He has to say but the disciples could not bear to hear them?  Surely if anybody was capable of hearing such disappointing words or bad news, the disciples were.  After all they actually walked and talked with Jesus; would not they be in a better position than we are – johnny come lately’s some 2000 years later.

The suspicion is wrongly placed.  God has no hidden disappointment waiting for us but the blessed gifts and unimaginable wonders that no human mind can handle apart from the Spirit leading and guiding.  Jesus has not withheld the terrible bad news for later but has promised us great and wondrous gifts and blessings that eye cannot see, mind cannot dream, and heart cannot imagine what God has prepared for those who love Him.

In other words, the best things of this life are but pale and poor appetizers of the great wonders that God has prepared for us.  We fear that we might be leaving behind something good from the present moment but God fears that the future is so blessed and great that we will be completely dissatisfied with today if we know the full truth of His eternal tomorrow.

And so it would be unless the Spirit prepares our hearts, sustains us in our struggles, fills us with the good things of His grace today even while preparing us for the greater things of His grace to come.  Baptism is not the end but the beginning of our everlasting new life in Christ.  Absolution is not the end of our sins but the prelude to a life glorious without sin at all.  Holy Communion is not our last supper but the first glimpse that anticipates the final and eternal meal, the marriage supper of the Lamb that is without end.

What is this?  All that the Father has is mine and I choose to declare it and give it to you.  Those are Jesus words.  The ruler of this world is already judged.  This world is already passing away, fading away, to be replaced by the new heavens and new earth of His promise.  Our sins will not live on but will be eternally forgotten without a memory to haunt us.  Death will not longer afflict us nor cause us to fear and it will most certainly lead us to forget what it means to grieve.  So great is that which God has prepared for those who love Him, those for whom Christ has prepared a place.

In the end, we need the Spirit because apart from Him we are still afflicted by fear, held tightly in the grasp of regret, and unsure if it will all be worth the struggle.  It is the Spirit and the Spirit alone who enables us to say Jesus Christ is Lord, to see His gift of new and eternal life in the baptismal water, to acknowledge and confess our sins for absolution, and to taste Jesus Christ in the bread and up of His Supper. 
It is the Spirit alone who enables us to look past the best joys of this moment and behold eternal joy, to focus on that future when regret, fear, doubt, and pain is demanding all our attention, and to believe that His promise is enough to sustain us today, tomorrow, and forever. 

Jesus goes away to come again, this life departs so that it may return in greater form than we ever imagined, the relationships of this life will be filled so that the wonderful intimacy of friendship with God will include everyone who believes, and the old bodies will be exchanged for the glorious flesh and blood that Jesus Himself wore at His resurrection.  This is more than I can bear and more than you can, as well.  Only the Spirit can teach us to believe without seeing and to see by believing.  Christ is Risen!  Amen.

No comments: