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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:Shouldn't We Mourn? We Serve A Risen Lord!
Text:LD 18 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2022-07-11
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Acts 1:1-11

Lesson: Lord’s Day 18

 

SHOULDN’T WE MOURN? WE SERVE A RISEN LORD!

  1. Why isn’t He Here?

  2. What is He Doing There?

  3. Is He Ever Coming Back?

 

  1. Hymn 40: 1, 2

  2. Psalm 68: 2, 7, 12

  3. Hymn 67: 1, 2, 6, 7

  4. Hymn 1

  5. Hymn 40: 3-5

 

WORDS TO LISTEN FOR: horsemen, California, courtroom, function, thief

 

QUESTIONS FOR UNDERSTANDING:

  1. Is it fair that we talk about Jesus Christ so much in the catechism?  Why or why not?

  2. How is Jesus different than Pastor Segstro’s aunt?

  3. What are the two things that Jesus doing for us in Heaven right now?

  4. Were the New Testament authors wrong about Jesus’ return?  Why or why not?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Congregation of Jesus Christ, 

Imagine that time-travel was possible.  Just imagine that, at the push of a button, you could travel anywhere and anytime in history.  Past or future.

If I was at the controls, I would maybe want to go to the future.  To when Christ returns and everything is made new.  No more sin.  Raised, resurrected, glorified bodies, like we talked about last week.

But if we were limited to the past, I think I would like to go to first century Palestine.  To be able to sit at Jesus’ feet.  Listening to Him teach in parables.  Seeing Him heal with the touch of His hand.  Wouldn’t that be amazing?  I would NEVER doubt again if I could just see it with my eyes.  Maybe I have a bit of a “doubting-Thomas” streak in me.  If I could just see Him...see the marks in His hands, feel the hole of the spear in His side…

Wouldn’t that be amazing?  To learn from the teacher Himself!  To hear Him call my name...maybe to eat one of the pieces of bread or fish that He miraculously multiplied?

It would be truly awesome.  Filled with awe over seeing my Lord face to face.

A nice thought experiment.  You may have picked another time...maybe seeing the 3 men surviving a fiery furnace and hearing their bold statement: BUT IF NOT!  There are so many wonderful times we could visit.

But that leads us to our topic for this afternoon...We serve a risen Lord!  And usually these words are said with triumph.  With thankfulness.  We serve a God who has ascended through the heavens!

But think about it...we serve an risen Lord...that means we serve a Lord who is no longer with us in the way that He once was!  Does that mean that we are living in an impoverished reality?

SHOULDN’T WE MOURN? WE SERVE A RISEN LORD!

  1. Why Isn’t He Here?

  2. What Is He Doing There?

  3. Is He Ever Coming Back?

 

 We serve a risen Lord.  But what does that really mean?  He rose from the grave, and then He rose further, into the sky.  Into heaven.  But what came before all this?  Who is this risen Lord that we serve?

The last 8 Lord’s Days of the catechism, Lord’s Days 11 through 18 look at the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This is number 8 of 9.  9 Lord’s Days on Jesus Christ after 2 about the Father, and before 1 about the Holy Spirit.

Does this seem fair? Does this seem to be giving each person of the Trinity their “fair shake?”

Well, before we come down too hard on the catechism, we have to back up one step to the Apostles’ Creed.  Of the 12 lines in the creed, 1 is devoted to the Father, 1 is devoted the the Spirit, and 6 are devoted to the work of Christ.

Now, of course the creed is not Scripture...but it does fit with how Scripture presents the three persons of the Trinity.  Though each of them are active all throughout Scripture, the Old Testament is spent waiting for the Messiah.  Longing for His coming and for salvation to happen.  Each of the four gospels are concerned with Jesus Christ.  Technically speaking, we shouldn’t call them “The Gospel of Matthew” or “The Gospel of Mark.” but rather, they are the gospel of JESUS CHRIST according to Matthew, or Mark.

And then the rest of the New Testament is the Apostles’ fulfilling the mandate of Christ, to spread His gospel to the ends of the earth, teaching everyone to obey what Christ has said.

And the book of Revelation, despite all the horsemen and bowls of wrath and scrolls being opened, the kings of the earth, the dragon, and the beast...it’s about the RETURN and the REIGN of King Jesus.

So, is it fair that we spend so much time on our Lord Jesus Christ?

Yes.  It’s biblical to do so.

And what have we learned about our Saviour?

     We have learned that His name is Jesus.  And His name is salvation.

     We have learned that He is the Christ.  He is the Anointed One of God.

     We have learned that He has existed eternally with the Father and the Holy Spirit in glory.

     We have learned that He took on the human flesh of the Virgin Mary and was born as a man

     We have learned that each day of His life, as He preached and healed, He suffered the wrath of God

     We have learned that He died in bitter agony...that He rose again on the 3rd day in glorious victory.

And then, after 40 days, appearing to His disciples and followers, He ascended up to heaven.

And far too often, we forget the ascension.

  • We celebrate Christmas.

  • We are filled with sorrow on Good Friday

  • We wait with bated breath for Easter Sunday.

 But that’s where the story ends for us so many times.  We do not think of Christ’s ascension as one of the most important parts of the story.

_________________

“The Lord ascended up on high”  We sang those words to start the service.  Can you picture this miraculous event?  Can you imagine what that was like for the disciples to watch?

We don’t really have to imagine or take our time machine back, because it is recorded for us.  We heard this in our reading, Acts 1, starting at verse 6

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

What do these words remind us of, beloved?  This is a recollection of the great commission!

Just as the gospel of Matthew ends with these beautiful words, so also are these recorded as Christ’s last words here on this earth by Luke.  You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

Imagine that sight.  What feelings would go through you if you were standing there?  Your beloved teacher, that sat and ate and drank with you for years, this man who was the Son of God, who they despaired over losing to death on the cross...this man who had been RAISED TO LIFE 40 days earlier...He was leaving them again.

Do you think they understood the significance of what was truly happening?  Jesus had prepared them for this moment, He had promised the Holy Spirit.  He had equipped them for the task of building His church, but imagine how they would have responded!

Imagine how you would have responded, had you been there!  Your beloved teacher gives you these beautiful words of encouragement and comfort, and then he rises off into heaven.  Maybe you would get a heavy feeling in your chest…

He’s leaving again!  And he just rose from the dead…

I’m not ready for Him to leave...

    Why isn’t He here still?

Well, the simple answer is, “He isn’t here because He is gone.  He isn’t here because He ascended.”

But an answer like that doesn’t actually help very much, does it?  An answer like that just leads to another “why?”

Why is He gone?  I need Him!  I need Him beside me, teaching me, comforting me, healing me of my physical and spiritual ailments!

And, what’s more than that...He promised!

In the Great Commission, Jesus promised: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

And this exact point is brought up in our catechism: Is Christ, then, not with us until the end of the world, as He has promised us?

______________

This promise of Christ, at first glance, seemingly a broken promise, reminds me of my aunt.  My aunt is a very busy woman who lives in California.  She is a doctor and is ALWAYS working.  The last time I spent any real quality time with her was 11 years ago.  But, ever since I can remember, she would always make these promises.

“I promise that I’ll come visit you in the Fall, and I promise we will go out for dinner, and I’ll buy you and your brother new clothes and scooters, and ipods, and all that.”

And she meant it.  For her flaws, I truly believe that she loves my brother and me.

But then work would come up, there was a surgery to assist with, there was a conference on the other side of the world...and she would cancel the trip.  Last minute.

And at first glance, this seems to be what Jesus has done.  He made a rash promise out of love to His disciples, but He ended up being too busy with important things in heaven, and has left us alone.  It’s not that He doesn’t love us...it’s that time got away from Him.  He was needed elsewhere.  That’s what it seems like.

But this isn’t our Lord.  He is God, and it is impossible for God to lie.  No doubt, He is active in Heaven, we will see that shortly in our next point, but He is no promise-breaker.

So, how did He keep this promise then?

Our Lord, our comforter, He explained this promise in John 14

Verse 16-18 - And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.  You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

This is the awesome mystery of our Triune God.  Because it’s not about having Jesus’ skin and bones here on this earth.  That’s not where our real comfort lies.  Jesus kept His promise, because Emmanuel, God-with-us, is still there.  He’s not here in a human body anymore...but our God is still present.  He has not abandoned us.   He has not forsaken us.  His love for us hasn’t been trumped by things more important than us, but rather, He has given us a wondrous amazing gift.

Just as God gave us Himself at Christmas...God was the Giver AND the Gift, here too God gives us Himself.

Just as Jesus was comforter to so many on earth, here He promises to give ANOTHER Helper.  ANOTHER Comforter.

We do not have to be jealous of the disciples for being so close to God that He was close enough to touch...because as close as Jesus was to them, the Holy Spirit is closer!  The Holy Spirit is more intimate with us than Jesus ever could be with His disciples.  Because the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts!

Don’t be jealous of the disciples.  We have not been abandoned.  Jesus left, but He didn’t really leave.  He left but He did not abandon us.  There are no orphans in the Kingdom of Heaven, but only dearly loved, never-abandoned children.

He has never abandoned us, but in fact is in Heaven right now, working for our benefit.  Our second point.

Our Lord and Saviour is now seated at God’s right hand in Heaven.  We heard that in our reading - According to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.

He is seated at God’s right hand.  We will sing that later in the service.  “He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”

The idea of sitting down seems to bring about the idea of rest.  The idea of completeness.  All His work is over, His ministry is done, and now He rests.

But that’s not quite accurate.

Our Lord’s EARTHLY MINISTRY is over...but His heavenly ministry continues.

And why?  Why does it need to continue?

 

It’s us.  We are the reason.  We are still sinful, and so we still need someone to work for our benefit.

We need our Lord to continue His heavenly ministry.  And what does this ministry entail?  Firstly, He is our Advocate.

Our advocate.  Like a mediator.  Do you remember the famous Mediator of the Old Testament?  We heard about him this morning when we read the law.  The people feared, they did not want to speak directly to God because they knew that they were sinful so they pleaded with Moses to speak to God on their behalf, and Moses did.  And God spoke to the people of Israel through Moses.

And Jesus Christ is like that too.  When we pray, whether the words are said at the end of the prayer or not….we can only spiritually enter into God’s holy courtroom because of what Jesus did.  Our prayers are said in Jesus’ name, and our prayers are heard for Jesus’ sake.

He is our advocate and mediator.

What that means in concrete terms is that God the Son sits at the right hand of God the Father.  A place of honour and authority.

And when we sin, when we sin, and the Father’s justice needs to be expressed, the Son steps in and says - LOOK AT ME!  LOOK AT ME AND MY SACRIFICE!  YOUR JUSTICE HAS ALREADY BEEN POURED OUT!  I DRANK THE CUP OF YOUR WRATH.

And He applies the sacrifice that He made, once for all, He applies that to our account.  And the righteous wrath of God is satisfied.  It is so important that our Lord is working in Heaven as our Advocate.  Without His presence in Heaven, our prayers would not ring out there, but they would simply stop at the ceiling.  But for Jesus’ sake, our prayers are heard!

For Jesus’s sake our prayers are heard, and because of Jesus’ ascended position, we have confidence that we too will join Him there one day.

This is the second element of Christ’s heavenly ministry.  We have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that He, our Head, will also take us, His members, up to Himself.

Our flesh is in heaven.  Think about that.  It’s not the nicest word...flesh.  Is it?  It’s a symbol of being on earth.  It’s part of this life, and our flesh may fail.  It certainly weakens over time.

But that is what we have in heaven.  We should not despise our flesh, though we should despise what is FLESHLY in us.  This is an important distinction.  This world is not evil, but what is worldly is.

Our flesh is not against the Spirit, but what is fleshly is against what is spiritual.  And there is a difference here.

Because our flesh was made on the sixth day by God, and was called very good.  There is no guilt to be found in a human being a human.

But it is what is FLESHLY in us that came at the Fall.  What is fleshly, what is worldly...THIS we have died to.  THIS we must crucify in ourselves each day yet again.

But the flesh?  The physical flesh?  It was made by God, and will be remade perfectly.  In holiness and righteousness.

And it is this flesh that we have in heaven.  Because that human nature that Jesus took on for His earthly ministry...He still has it up there right now!  Our flesh is suited for heaven!

Just think of that - our flesh is suited for heaven...that is where we were created to be.  In perfect union with God.  Jesus Christ is our pledge that we will join him there!  Heaven is for us, fleshly beings too!

Christ’s flesh, our flesh, is in heaven as a sure pledge.  What is a pledge though?  What is this sure pledge that the catechism speaks of?

Well, a pledge is a promise, and there should be no one that we trust more than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the head of the church.

And we can use that too, in order to understand what pledge means.  Just like our body is attached to our head, so too, the church, the body of Christ, is tied to the head: Christ, in heaven.  This is a pledge that one day, our bodies will be made like his glorious body and join him where he is.

He ascended in the glorified skin and bones of our nature, securing for us,

as the Apostle Peter puts it, “an inheritance that can never spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you.”

THIS is what our Saviour is doing up there.  What He is doing in Heaven.  He isn’t with us in person, but through His Spirit.  But that doesn’t mean that He has forgotten us or is doing something more important than looking after our salvation.  He looks after our salvation through His work in heaven, and He will one day, at just the right time, return to take us up to Himself.  Our final point.

Is He ever coming back?  Has our Saviour left us for good?

He IS coming back!  Any day now.  Each day brings us closer to that glorious day.

He is in Heaven for our benefit until He comes again to judge the living and the dead.

He will return.  We can see this eager hope among all the New Testament writers

     We are waiting for our blessed hope - the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2)

     The end of all things is near (1 Peter 4)

     Behold I am coming soon (Revelation 22)

And yet Christ hasn’t returned yet.  Almost 2000 years since Revelation was written...and Christ hasn’t returned.

So did the New Testament writers have it wrong?  Were they wrong about Christ’s return?  No!  They would have known Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 - No one knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man returns.

No one knows.  They were not spending time predicting when He would return, because the exact timing doesn’t matter.  What matters is that He IS coming!  Whether today, or tomorrow, or in a thousand years, our Saviour will return from heaven!

And He will come like a thief in the night, and so we must all be ready.

This is the focus of the New Testament writers - He COULD come back at any second...so be prepared!  This is how we are to live!

__________________

You can think of it like the first Passover that the Israelites celebrated in the land of Egypt.  How were they supposed to eat?  With their belt fastened, their sandals on their feet, and their staff in their hand.  They had to be ready, because their God was going to take them out of Egypt at any second.  It was that very night, at midnight, that the final plague came, and Pharaoh told them to leave.  They had to be ready.

And that is a call to us.  We have to be ready!  We still are to eat the Passover...that is, we are still to be living in this world, focused on our daily tasks, but always with our staff in hand and our belt fastened.  We are to live in this world as though any second it could pass away into eternity.

Is now the time to continue in sin?  To continue living in darkness, unrepentantly lying and hating and lusting?

Disrespecting those God has placed in authority over you because there’s still time?  There’s still time to grow up, there’s still time to repent  I’ll do that tomorrow!

No!  THIS is the day of salvation.  This is the day that Christ could return.  And then it’s too late.  Put aside your sins. Throw away your trinkets and flee from your worldly life.  Flee to the cross of Christ!

On that day, let Christ find you clinging to His cross.  Let Him find you on your knees, praying for forgiveness and the salvation of others.  Don’t put it off, don’t delay!

What did the angels say when Christ ascended?

This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.

So congregation...LONG for Him to return.

Though He has blessed us richly on this earth, He has blessed us with His Holy Spirit, He has blessed us with His Mediatorial work in Heaven...there’s more coming.  We should be content and thankful with His blessings now, but always looking forward to His return when our joy will be so much purer and stronger.  Our wonder and our delight will be complete, when we see Jesus coming on the clouds of heaven.

And so we pray, Come Lord Jesus, Maranatha.  Come upon the clouds of heaven, with your angels at your side.  Come Lord Jesus, ever more with us abide.

AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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