Sermon – Lord’s Prayer (Easter 6 – 2022)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, through Your Son You have promised us that whatever we ask in His name You will give us: We beseech You, keep us in Your Word, and grant us Your Holy Spirit, that He may govern us according to Your will; protect us from the power of the devil, from false doctrine and worship; and also defend our lives against all danger. Grant us Your blessing and peace, that we may in all things perceive Your merciful help, and both now and forever praise and glorify You as our gracious Father; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven

Hallowed be Thy name

Thy Kingdom come

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

Give us this day our daily bread

Forgive us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and glory forever and ever. Amen.

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

It is good for us to consider the confirmation vows that Chris will be making today, and the vows that we made in our confirmation, or the vows that you will one day make in your confirmation vows.

As we look back on our lives, we see the work that God has done for us in spite of our sinful flesh. He has given us the new birth of the Spirit through the waters of baptism. Through the means of grace, that is His Word and Sacraments, He has preserved us in the faith of our baptism, so that we are able to renounce the devil and confess the Triune God as our God. He has given you the Spirit so that you walk by the Spirit rather than by the lusts of your sinful flesh. All thanks and praise goes to God for this work that He has done in you.

But as you, Chris, make your vows about your intentions for the future, and as each of us continue to strive to live according to the vows that we made, we must rely upon God to continue His good work in us. That is why we pray to Him.

The Lord’s Prayer is perfect for this very thing! So let’s consider that prayer our Lord has given us this Rogate Sunday.

Our Father, who art in heaven. – Jesus has given us the privilege to speak to God with such a dear title, “Father.” He is a gracious Father who receives our prayers as the prayers of His dear children. Therefore, having Him as our Father, we bring to Him every care and concern in prayer, including these things of primary importance, the preservation of our faith and our eternal salvation. We pray “Our” because we Christians are not islands unto ourselves, but we are members of one another as parts of one body, and together we pray these things as brothers and sisters to our Father in heaven.

Hallowed be Thy name. – In this petition, we are praying for God to do two things for us. First, we are asking God that He would preserve the pure teaching and confession of His word among us. We pray that everything taught and believed among us in His name is truth. And this is for our own good, isn’t it? God’s truth saves! Lies are harmful and can destroy faith.

And so we pray that God would give us faithfulness to His truth. Our allegiance is not to a building, a church, or a synod. It is an allegiance to God and His truth. We cling to the truths of God’s Word that you have been taught in confirmation. And God forbid our church or church body strays from the truth, but if it were to happen, you ought to try to correct the error, and if such correction is ignored, you will seek out a church that faithfully teachings the truths of Scripture.

In this petition we are also praying that God would grant us to live holy lives according to His Word. God put His name on us in baptism as a people who belong to Him. We bear the name of Christ, since we are Christians, and so we pray that God would keep us from dragging His name through the mud by unholy living. Rather, it is our vow and our desire, that God would so direct us so that our lives would glorify God who has redeemed us.

Thy Kingdom come. – The confirmation vow includes the intention to be faithful in the use of the means of grace. Many lie to God when they make this vow, because they have no intention to do so. In the same way many pray the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer hypocritically, when they neglect the coming of Christ’s kingdom in the means of grace. The kingdom of God comes to us when the Holy Spirit comes to us in the means of grace and creates faith in our hearts. This happened in your baptism, when you were born again of water and the Spirit. In this way, Christ’s kingdom came to you. We desire that Christ’s Kingdom continue to come to us through the means of grace, that we may continue to believe His Word and remain citizens and heirs of His glory. May God give us hearts to love His coming to us in Word and Sacrament until we enter into His kingdom of glory.

Of course, this petition includes the desire that the kingdom of Christ may extend also to those who do not know Him, but that’s for another sermon.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. – We know that the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh stand in the way of our keeping of our confirmation vows. We pray that God will frustrate the will of these evil three, so that we may keep God’s name hallowed and that His kingdom would come to us, so that according to His good and gracious will, He may strengthen us and keep us steadfast in His Word and in faith until our end.

Give us this day our daily bread. – This is the only petition that deals with our earthly life, which shows us how we ought to be above all concerned with the things pertaining to our eternal salvation. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [the things of this temporal life] will be added unto you.” Yet Jesus includes this petition, because He does care about your earthly life as well. And as you seek first the things above, you may know that God will provide for your needs for this life.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. – Forgiveness. This is the central gift that Christ won for us by His atoning sacrifice on the cross. The forgiveness of Christ is what saving faith takes hold of. It is on account of Christ’s forgiveness that God loves us and hears our prayer. Our spiritual life, our salvation depends on Christ’s forgiveness, and so may God always grant us hearts to fervently ask Him for this free gift of His grace. And so that we do not despise this gift of God and lose it, may He grant us to forgive those who sinned against us.

Lead us not into temptation. – The temptations are all around us! Mammon. A disordered love for good things (idolatry). Hopelessness and despair. Instant gratification. Seductresses in the neighborhood and on the screen. Sexual immorality. Self-righteousness. False belief. Neglect of God’s Word. In all these ways, and many more, the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh tempts us, and seeking to destroy our faith. But so that we may remain in the true faith God would save us from these temptations, preserve in us the true faith, and forgive us our sins.

Deliver us from evil. – This petition sums up the prayer. The devil seeks to inflict every evil against us. But we come to our heavenly Father asking that He would save us from this evil. God has cast Satan down. Christ has crushed His head. And through the faith in our Triune God which we confess, this victory over the devil is ours. So, we rely upon God to keep us, and bring us from this vale of tears to Himself in heaven.

Jesus has given us such good things to ask for in this prayer, things that are truly fitting for this Confirmation day and always. But it is always a joy to recognize here that Christ, our Savior, has told us to pray for these things, because these are the things that God wants us to have. He wishes to give these gifts to us. He has given these gifts to us! His Word! The Holy Spirit! True faith! The forgiveness of sins! The sanctified life! Deliverance from temptation and the evil one! And our heavenly Father graciously desires to continue to shower you with these gifts all your life long. So ask away. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.


Sermon – John 16.16-23 (Easter 4 – 2022)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, of Your fatherly goodness You allow Your children to come under Your chastening rod here on earth, that we might be like Your only-begotten Son in suffering and hereafter in glory: We beseech You, comfort us by Your Holy Spirit in all temptations and afflictions, that we may not fall into despair, but that we may continually trust in Your Son’s promise, that our trials will endure but a little while, and will then be followed by eternal joy; that we thus, in patient hope, may overcome all evil, and at last obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

16 “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”

 17 Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us,`A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and,`because I go to the Father ‘?”

 18 They said therefore, “What is this that He says,`A little while ‘? We do not know what He is saying.”

 19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said,`A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me ‘?

 20 “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.

 21 “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

 22 “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

 23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

These are Your Words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

The fruits of the cross, Christ and ours

Dear fellow redeemed,

After crossing the Red Sea, God led Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness for three days. There was no water to be seen those three days, but when they arrived in Marah, they found water, but they could not drink the water because the water was too bitter.

This is a picture of the Christian’s life in this world. We travel in the wilderness of this world and we sometimes have nothing but the bitter drink from the Lord’s cup of cross and tribulation.

But God does not leave us alone to drink the cup but He helps us in and through our time of need.

He helped Moses and the Israelites in Marah. He showed Moses a tree and told Moses to throw it into the water. Moses did so and the water became sweet and drinkable. In the same way, God has set before us in the midst of the bitter water, the Tree of Life, that is, Christ in His Word. Through Christ in His Word, our cross becomes light and sweet. This is a reminder that the Lord is our constant companion as we bear our cross.

And furthermore, after leaving Marah, the Israelites came to Elim where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees. This is a reminder for us that after we drink the bitter water of this world, we shall then enter into the presence of our gracious Savior, standing before His glorious throne with palm branches in our hands.

With our eyes looking forward to the glory that awaits us, we consider today the cross that we bear in this wilderness.

The cross is unavoidable for those who are in Christ Jesus. His cup of suffering which He foretold came to pass in His beatings, sufferings and death. So also He says that His disciples “will weep and lament.” And this does come to pass for us as well as it did for the Twelve. Paul likewise said, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

Just as Christ, our Lord, suffered in this wilderness, so also shall we who are His disciples suffer with Him.

But these crosses are quite fruitful for us. Obviously, the cross of Christ, has tremendous results for us, namely the forgiveness of all our sins, eternal salvation.

But our crosses are beneficial for us as well. So how should we consider our crosses, our troubles, and trials and struggles in life, especially those troubles that we endure for the sake of our Christian faith? How should we understand our crosses?

First of all, like the pains of childbirth bring forth new life, our crosses in life assist in bringing forth our daily renewal of the new life in Christ that leads to eternal life. Our rebirth takes place only by the powerful gospel of Christ. However, our crosses and tribulations are teachers of faith, and they establish us more firmly in that regenerating gospel of Christ. In your trials, find your hope and comfort in the gospel of Christ. A trial that doesn’t lead you there is a trial that is wasted. St. Peter said that God gives you trials in order that “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pe 1:7).

Secondly, tribulation and cross benefits us by preaching to us about sin and God’s wrath against sin. Often when things are going well, we have a tendency to forget the weakness of our flesh, and the helplessness of our nature, because of our sin. But just as the great pains of childbirth are a reminder of the curse that came to the world because of the fall into sin, so also the difficulty of our cross is a reminder of our sins. When we bear our cross, we confess like the thief on the cross, “we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong” (Lk 23:41) Christ was the innocent one. He was perfect. We are the ones worthy of the cross.

And so let the tribulation and cross in your lives bring you to your knees in humble repentance before the grace and forgiveness of God. We are reminded that our sins are real, and also that the sin cancelling cross of our Savior was real. And in Him, we find perfect forgiveness and salvation from our sin.

Third, tribulation and cross benefits us helping us become more Christlike. We as believers are “as living stones being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5) Like stones in a house must be chiseled and formed for construction, so also, the cross and trouble chisels us, cleanses and polishes us so as to increase in us the fruits of the Spirit, such as patience, faithfulness, humility, gentleness, kindness and so on. Therefore, we must fight against bitterness that might arise in our hearts, look to the trustworthiness and love of our Lord, and by His gospel He causes us to grow in holiness, in the likeness of our Savior.

Fourthly, tribulation and cross cause us to cry out to God, to pray to Him more fervently, as we should always do. God is our loving Father; He commands us to pray, and He graciously receives our prayers and answers them according to His loving will toward us, His redeemed.

Finally, the bitter cross that we must carry in this wilderness draws our hearts and minds to the life to come. In good days, the thoughts of our hearts easily dwell on things of this world, and we cling to the temporal, the worldly things in our hearts. But our crosses teach our hearts to cling to that which is above, that which is better and more glorious, the heavenly blessings that we have because of Christ’s cross.

Certainly the cross, troubles and tribulations we have in life have benefits for us.

God gives us crosses and tribulations for our own good. As Christ always had matters in hand with His own cross, willingly giving up His own life, so also does Christ have matters in hand with your crosses. Your crosses come from the good and gracious God who loves you, and who gave up His own Son so that you may be saved. He knows what is best for us. He makes an exact assessment as to how much He wants to lay upon us, and He gives us our cross, the bitter cup for us to drink.

And so we receive our crosses in faith and patience, and in doing so, it becomes a blessed and godly cross.

And God is also beside us constantly with comfort and help. He is with us in His Word and Sacraments.

And God would have you remember the comparison between the cross and childbirth. The pains of child birth are only for a little while. But after the birth of a child the pains become an afterthought and the joys take hold.

Likewise, the disciples’ trial and sorrow during Jesus suffering and death were only short-lived. When Christ, their Lord, appeared to them on the third day, joy took over them. Jesus said to them, “No one will take your joy from you.

Our sufferings and sorrows and burdens are only for a little while. They will soon give way to perfect joy. For as Paul says, “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom 8:18).

We have this joy and hope in the midst of our bitter cup and our cross: the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through His Word and Sacrament, the blessings of Christ’s cross are yours. You are forgiven of all your sins by His blood. You are a child of God. You are heirs of the life to come.

Jesus says, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). Here in Word and Sacrament, we find our Christ, our Sabbath rest. Here is our one resting spot in this wilderness of the world. Here we have a foretaste, of the joys that are to come, where “God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes” (Rev. 7:15-17).

No one will take your joy from you.” May God bless each of you by your cross, that you may ever more be closely joined to Christ’s cross, through Word and Sacrament, that you may have joy in His resurrection all your days, until you are finally gathered to His heavenly throne. Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Forevermore. Amen.


Sermon – John 10.27-29 (Easter 3 – 2022)

Lord God, heavenly Father, out of Your fatherly goodness You have been mindful of us poor, miserable sinners, and have given Your beloved Son to be our Shepherd, not only to nourish us by His Word, but also to defend us from sin, death, and the devil: We beseech You, grant us Your Holy Spirit, that, even as this Shepherd knows us and helps us in every affliction, we also may know Him, and, trusting in Him, seek help and comfort in Him, from our hearts obey His voice, and obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you, and peace, from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

 28 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

These are Your Words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

It happens to just about every little kid. The child grabs onto the leg of one who he thinks is his mom or dad, but then he looks up and is terrified to see that it is not his parent, but rather he has hold of the leg of someone he doesn’t know so well. He then goes running to find his mom or dad. So also, when we begin to hear some religious teachings, we need to make sure that it is not the voice of a stranger that we are clinging to, but rather seek only the voice of our Good Shepherd.

I had a parallel experience as a college student. I was a student at Southwest State University, and I drove 30 minutes to Tracy, MN to attend the ELS church there. I knew it was a small town, so I figured that I would easily find the church. I found a Lutheran Church, I walked in thinking it was one of ours, and when I saw that it was a woman who was leading the service, I realized that this wasn’t the church of my Lutheran Fathers. I was able to find our synod’s Lutheran Church shortly thereafter. There I enjoyed a church that faithfully proclaimed the full counsel of God’s Word, in fact, I was there served by a faithful servant of the Word, and a beloved man of our Synod, who just died and entered His rest yesterday, Norman Madson. There, by the grace of God, I heard the voice of my Good Shepherd in its truth and purity.

Jesus told His disciples to go out and teach the disciples of all nations to observe all things that He had commanded them. When the Word of God is proclaimed, that is the voice of the Good Shepherd speaking. The truth of Holy Scripture is the Voice of the Good Shepherd.

Human nature, however, does not heed the voice of the Shepherd. Paul speaks about men not enduring sound doctrine, but instead, “according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers” (2 Tim 4:3). In the Old Testament the Jews did not heed the voice of God as it was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah spoke against the sin of the people, and God’s judgment that was coming upon them through the hand of the Babylonians. But the people instead listened to the false prophets who said, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace.

So it is today, many will not listen to the voice of the Shepherd. Many mainline churches will not preach about sin, because they’d rather ignore the truth about God’s just character and the judgment He will mete out against unbelievers. They don’t like the idea that there is a hell and many are going there, and so instead they will listen to that false voice that says “peace, peace,” when there is no peace.

Many will create a Christ according to the image of their own desires and there are plenty who will proclaim a false Christ, a Christ who does not save from sin, but one who instead will give you riches, or who comes to free the oppressed and bring equity to all, maybe one who desires to bring about socialism, or the generic patriotic American god.

The false voices are tempting to us. The lying voice that says, “God’s forgiveness is a license for me to keep on sinning.” The lying voice that says, “I’m not totally fallen; I can contribute my part for my salvation.”

There is also the false voice that says, “we can tolerate a little false doctrine, that’s not a big deal.” The false voice that says, “the Synod’s doctrine of fellowship is silly. It doesn’t matter what church we listen to or what preacher we listen to, or what altar I commune at, they are all Christian.”

Yet, will we find false doctrine in the voice of our Good Shepherd? Does our Lord speak falsely? Does He contradict Himself and say that “this bread and wine really isn’t My body and blood?” Does He deny His words about Baptism having the power to save? Does He reject the Scripture and say that salvation you have some things on your end that you must do in order to obtain Jesus’ salvation. Does He say, “I was just kidding about that part of Scripture that says women should have authority over a man.” Ignore that part of Scripture.

No, the content of Christ’s voice is the truth of Scripture. There is no falsehood in His voice. Of course, there are different categories of those who speak falsely. There are the teachers who are Christians, but have some error in their teachings. Some have more error and some have less. And some of their errors are more dangerous than others, but error are a danger and are a threat to faith. But then there are heretics, who have teachings that put themselves outside the pale of Christianity, and to adopt their teachings would instantly destroy faith.

But when we find ourselves hearing a voice that does not teach the truth of Scripture, we must acknowledge that this is not the voice of the Shepherd, we ought to reject it and seek Christ’s voice. By the miracle of the Holy Spirit you have known His voice from childhood, for Scripture says, “from infancy have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Though we know it, we ought to grow in familiarity and intimate knowledge of His voice. It is good and important for us to grow in the knowledge of God’s grace, and better discern Christ’s voice from the multitude of voices in the world. So regularly hear His voice, continue to learn the Scripture and study it, that we may have a fuller knowledge of the counsel of God.

Thus knowing Christ’s voice, you may be better equipped to judge all teachings to Christ’s voice.

How precious is that Voice of Your Good Shepherd! It is the voice of Him who laid down His life for you to save you from the trouble we foolish and wayward sheep would go. Without a shepherd, we are certain prey of the ravenous wolf, the devil. But Christ laid down His life for sheep who love to wander. By His sacrifice He has delivered us from Satan’s fangs and from eternal death. And our Good Shepherd rose from the grave to shepherd you in His infinite love. By His grace He has brought you to into His fold, where you have forgiveness and life. And we need His voice to continually shepherd us through this life, through all the troubles of life, through the valley of shadow of death, and through the presence of the enemies and false voices all around us. 

With His rod of the Law, He strikes you, preventing you from further wandering in sins and error’s ways. And with the staff of His gospel, He draws you to Himself, that you may find salvation and comfort in His love.

Our steadfastness to the voice of Christ is not our doing. But rather, it is God’s working in you. He has given you faith that you may know His Word. And we look to Him to sustain us in faith and increase in our hearts a love for His heavenly voice. He holds us in the palm of His strong hands. With His voice He keeps us safe from every false doctrine, and assures us that we are in His flock, that He is our Good Shepherd, and that He is with us and shall bring us to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.


Sermon – John 20.19-31 (Easter 2 – 2022)

True Saving Faith

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank You, that of Your indescribable grace, for the sake of Your Son, You have given us the holy Gospel, and have instituted the holy Sacraments, that through these we may have comfort and forgiveness of sin: We beseech You, grant us Your Holy Spirit, that we may heartily believe Your Word; and through the holy Sacraments day by day establish our faith, until we at last obtain eternal salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

 23 “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

 24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”

 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

 29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;

 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

Everyone has faith. We can’t live without faith. You had faith in your alarm clock that it would wake you up in time to get ready for church today. You had faith in your car to get you here today. It took faith to sit down in the pew trusting that it would not collapse under you.

Even atheists have faith, trusting in the daily things as we do, alarm clocks, cars, and maybe not church pews, but chairs, etc. But even the beliefs and worldviews of atheists are based on faith. They often set up faith against reason. They boast in their reason. But it is not reason that leads them to deny God’s existence, it takes faith to believe that lie. They take a leap of faith when they believe that all that exists is only the material universe and that the the supernatural does not exist. It even takes faith to believe that they can depend on reason and logic and their observations.

The point is, is that everyone has faith in one thing or another. A faith may be rightly or wrongly placed. Faith in a new car out of the sales lot is a good bet. Faith in a car that looks like it just exited the demo derby would probably be unwise. Faith in lies and falsehoods is a wrongly placed faith. Faith in truth, is a correctly placed faith. Faith in the risen Christ is a correct and saving faith.

The truth was presented to Thomas, but Thomas didn’t believe it. He wasn’t there that night of Jesus’ resurrection when the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples. The disciples saw Him and conversed with Him and then later proclaimed the amazing truth to Thomas: Christ is risen!

But Thomas was a skeptic. Jesus would have us believe through the testimony of Scripture. That is why the Holy Spirit led St. John to write, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” Jesus desired that Thomas would believe the words of the disciples, but he required that he see Jesus for Himself.

But Jesus, in His grace, showed Himself to Thomas, and Thomas believed. Though we often call Thomas doubting Thomas, we actually get an excellent lesson on faith here.

First, faith recognizes the truth. Thomas recognized the truth that Jesus is risen! The point here is that faith isn’t blind. Faith rests upon God’s real activity in history. When God called the Old Testament Israelites to leave their false gods and turn again to Him in faith, He often pointed them to His activity for them in history. “I redeemed you from bondage in Egypt. I have defeated your enemies. I have brought you this prosperous land. I have made you My people. Return to Me.” So also, our faith is not based on something that happened behind closed doors, on some ideas or rumors that have questionable beginnings. Our faith does not rest upon baseless claims. Nor does faith rest in wishful thinking. Rather, our faith rests upon God’s real and public activity in history. Jesus publicly died on a cross, and He publicly rose from the grave and showed Himself bodily risen from the grave to many before He ascended into heaven.

This is why Paul speaks about the many who saw the risen Christ in 1 Corinthians 15—even 500 hundred at one time. And he added that many of them were still alive. They could tell you that they saw the risen Jesus! Peter, in his Pentecost sermon preached, “This Jesus Christ God has raised up, of which we are witnesses.” St. John, in His first letter wrote, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us” (1 John 1:1,3).

And so, faith believes that Jesus lives.

This is what Thomas saw. Thomas saw that Jesus lives. But Thomas’s confession claims more than what he saw. In faith, He confessed Jesus to be the Lord and God. What it means that Jesus is Lord is that He has redeemed the world from the enemies of sin, death, and the devil. He has freed men from their sins, delivered them from death, and released them from Satan’s prison, and brought them into His kingdom, where there is forgiveness, peace, and the life everlasting as God’s people. Thomas confesses Jesus to be God Himself, the second person of the Trinity. Thomas confesses that He who was crucified and died, and who stood before Him living in human flesh was the eternal, almighty, infinite God through whom all things visible and invisible were created.

This belief about Jesus is belief in what is true, however, it is not yet true saving faith. Even the devils know these things about Jesus. They very well know that Jesus is the true Lord and God, though they hate this truth (James 2:19).

But notice the beautiful saving faith confessed by Thomas: “My Lord and my God.” This is the faith given Benjamin today in baptism. It isn’t just the confession that He is Lord and God, but He is my Lord and my God. Even for me, though I have sinned against Him so greatly. I have doubted Him and His word. I have gone about as though His promises fail. I have lived in such a way that I have made myself lord, following my own sinful will and desires rather than God’s good and righteous will for me. I have made an idol of myself.

Yet the righteous God shows me mercy. He went to the cross to pay the price for my wretched and damnable sins. By His suffering, He saves me from my sins, delivers me from death, and releases me from Satan’s prison, and brings me into His kingdom, where I live with Him, He is my God, and I am His dear child. And in this blessed state, He rules over me as my gracious Lord, and under His kind and merciful rule over me, I follow Him to joyfully live in the purity and righteousness to which He has called me and given me to live.

And so, we repent of our sins before Him with contrite hearts, and we hear and believe His Word that proclaims to you the truth. God has acted in history. He was crucified for you, and He is now risen, and you are forgiven, saved, and delivered into His gracious and eternal kingdom. And we each can trust that He has done this for you, and you can then make that beautiful confession saying, “My Lord and My God.” This is the true saving faith. Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.


Sermon – Mark 16:1-8 (Easter – 2022)

For the 40 days of Lent we have fasted, whether from food, or from singing out our “alleluias” in our church services. We have kept the days in subdued worship. We have not sat in sackcloth and ashes, but our hearts have adorned a broken spirit, a heart contrite over our many sins against God. We have pondered the wounds we have inflicted upon our Lord, and we have repented. We have journeyed with our Lord to the cross, and centered our thoughts on His passion, suffering and death.

Today, the fast has come to an end, and we keep the feast! For today as we celebrate the victory of our Lord, our voices again resound with “Alleluias!” For hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see. Death’s prison is burst open! We are free! O death, where is thy sting? O hell, where is thy victory?

May we then, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, keep this feast in spirit and in truth. Let us praise our victorious King with our festival verse, hymn number 348. Please rise.

Grace to you, and peace, from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.

 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.

 3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?”

 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away– for it was very large.

 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.

 7 “But go, tell His disciples– and Peter– that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

 8 So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

In the Midweek Lenten services we have been talking about Confession and Absolution. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, there would be no word of Absolution for you. You would remain under the hopeless situation of being captive under sins bondage and the law’s condemnation.

Think of Mary Magdalene, who came to the tomb early that Sunday morning after the Sabbath had come to an end. She went to the tomb with burial ointments to serve the Lord the only way she now could. How she loved Him. She had been possessed by seven demons, and Jesus cast them out of her. Jesus freed her from the devil’s bondage, and this means freeing her also from her sins. For as long as sin remains with us, the devil has claim on us. But when sin is forgiven, the devil has nothing. His accusations fall short.

But she saw her Lord die. That Sunday morning she fully expected Him to remain lying lifeless in the tomb. She deals with the sadness of the Lord’s death. But there is also the crisis of what His death means. What does it mean? Is she delivered from the devil? Is her sin forgiven? Can she have peace with God? Does she have hope in this life and hope for the life to come? All of this was now in doubt!

But what joy! The angel announces! He is not here! Christ is risen! Alleluia! Her Lord lives! His death then means that her sins are indeed forgiven and that she is truly delivered from the devil! His resurrection means that she too shall rise unto eternal life.

And this is the confidence that you are given, because Jesus arose from the grave after suffering and dying for your forgiveness and salvation! Christ’s resurrection means that you are forgiven, you are delivered from the power of the devil, and that though you die, yet you shall live eternally, and that your bodies, though, one day will be rotting in the grave will one day rise a glorious body, to live forever in eternal bliss.

And in confession and absolution, we are joined to Christ’s death and resurrection, and receive the benefits of His death and resurrection. This is because each time we confess our sins before God and receive the pronouncement of His forgiveness through faith, we are living in our baptism. This is just as Paul said in his letter to the Romans, “therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

In confession and absolution, there is a definite dying and rising. We see that Old Adam in us, that sinful flesh that is full of pride and selfishness, that seeks its own way, that does not love God nor loves the preaching of His Word. We know these sins. These are the sins we commit each week. And in hatred of these sins and our sinful flesh, we put them to death by repentance. We don’t want to continue in these sins. We run to God for help, to save us from these sins, to take them away from us, and to keep us from continuing in these damnable sins. We fight against them, but know that our victory, our salvation from these sins is the forgiveness of Christ that the called servant of the Word pronounces to you. In this way, you are living in your baptism.

Consider the life of the martyr, St. Christopher. He was apparently a very tall and strong man. He wanted to serve the Lord, and he did this by helping people cross dangerous rivers. Keep in mind, this was long ago when bridges were few and far between, and many would die attempting to cross. And so he would strap people to himself, and then bring them into the waters and safely through to the other side.

So also, in baptism, we are strapped to Christ. We are joined to Him in the water, and as He enters the water we die with Him, but then we also rise with Him safely on the other side. His death is our death. His death was the payment price for our sins, so we are then free of our sins. And His resurrection from the dead means that we shall rise with Him, too, in newness of life.

This newness of life is the life you now live with your every sin forgiven. The word of absolution spoken to you through the called servant is confirmed by the resurrection of Christ! You are forgiven! And since Christ is risen, consider the words spoken through the mouth of the pastor as Christ’s very own voice pronouncing your sins perfectly forgiven.

This newness of life that you now live is a life given you by the Holy Spirit, in which He leads you to turn from your sins and live rather in righteousness and holiness after the image of Christ, who has redeemed you and made you His brothers and sisters through faith.

This newness of life that you now live is a life without end. For Christ is the firstfruit of all who has risen from the dead, and you shall also follow Him in the triumphant procession from our graves to join Him in the new creation, in which all things will have become new, and you shall live in His presence forever in glorified bodies, with sin, death, suffering, and sadness no longer plaguing our existence.

Oh you sinners, who confess your sins before the Lord, Christ is risen. Therefore, the word of Absolution is confirmed! You are forgiven. The devil and death are defeated. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.