Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | May 21, 2009

Sermon on Luke 24:44-53

The Ascended Jesus is the Prophesied Christ

To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood!

Luke 24:44-53: He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”  When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

What a sight, watching Jesus go up into the clouds. Even when you can’t see Him anymore, you strain your eyes: “One more glimpse…” But He’s gone. Jesus has ascended into heaven, taking His visible presence from the earth. Perhaps there’s a bittersweet moment. “Why didn’t Jesus stay?” But then those angels appear and ask, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? Don’t you know that Jesus is coming back?”

And you do. He told you: I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You also know that Jesus hasn’t left you. He just said, Surely I am with you always. That’s a promise you can take to the local moneylender.

And now you know about fulfilled promises. You used to be confused. You didn’t get whipping the people selling animals in the Temple. You didn’t understand Jesus saying, “I’ll be murdered, but I’ll rise from the dead.” You didn’t understand donkey rides into Jerusalem. You didn’t understand telling Judas to do what He had to do quickly. You didn’t understand why Jesus – the storm stilling, dead raising, crowds of thousands feeding Messiah – you didn’t understand why He let Himself be murdered. And you didn’t get the empty tomb. Now you do. Because you know that THE ASCENDED JESUS IS THE PROPHESIED CHRIST: HE OPENS YOUR MINDS TO KNOW IT, HE GIVES YOU LIPS TO TELL IT.

Let me set the scene: You’re sitting in a locked room, hiding and scared to death. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Jesus appears. This is the third day since His crucifixion. He’s dead. But all day you’ve heard things. Those two disciples who had been walking to Emmaus just told you, “We saw Jesus!” And while digesting that, Jesus appears! You think He’s a ghost. So He eats. Ghosts don’t do that. This is the real deal – JESUS IS ALIVE AND STANDING RIGHT HERE NEXT TO ME!!

This is what He said would happen. Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then He opens your mind. He begins at the beginning. He is the seed of the woman who crushed the devil’s head when He died on the cross. He explains how the holiest Jewish festival, the Day of Atonement, was all about Him. He is the goat sacrificed for the sins of the people, and the scapegoat who carried the sins of the people away.

He moves on to the Psalm. Psalm 2 describes the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Lord’s King, to whom the Father said, You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Psalm 16, You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. He recites Psalm 22, and you’re transported back to that Friday cry, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? And when He mentions pierced hands and feet, and how the soldiers would divide up His clothes and cast lots for them, you wonder how you missed it. He points to Psalm 103 and says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Isn’t that the message I’ve been proclaiming?” And you nod, silently taking it all in. Then there’s Psalm 118. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone. The Jewish leaders rejected Him, but you know, as Peter confessed, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God!

Then Jesus says, “How about Isaiah?” He reminds you that His mother was a virgin, as Isaiah said. He points out how the titles of Isaiah 9 apply to Him, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He shows you how He was stricken, smitten, and afflicted. It’s so clear: He was despised and rejected by men…but He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds, we are healed.

“How about Jonah?” Jesus asks. “Just as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the fish, so I had to be three days and nights in the earth.” Then Jesus prays Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the fish, From the depths of the grave I called for help….But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God….Salvation comes from the LORD. “That’s the message,” Jesus says, “repentance and forgiveness of sins, just as Isaiah said, The mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains…The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”

It’s so clear. And no longer do you think so, you KNOW. How? Jesus told you. Yet you also remember Him telling you about the Holy Spirit. This is God’s Spirit who calls you through the Word of Christ. This is the Spirit who anoints you with faith. It’s that Spirit who’s at work in you now, building up your understanding of the grace and knowledge of Jesus, just as Jesus said on Maundy Thursday, The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. And, as if He’s reading your mind (and since He’s omniscient, He is), Jesus talks about that Spirit again. I am going to send you what my Father has promised.

Jesus’ message is clear: THE ASCENDED JESUS IS THE PROPHESIED CHRIST. HE OPENS YOUR MINDS TO KNOW IT, HE ALSO GIVES YOU LIPS TO TELL IT. He made it plain: You are witnesses of these things. Maybe you were nervous about that once, maybe even just moments before Jesus suddenly appeared in the room. But not anymore. Why? Because the prophet Joel’s words run through your head: And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days…. The Spirit empowers you to proclaim repentance and forgiveness in Jesus’ name. Jesus told you: You will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

So that’s it. That’s the commission Jesus has given. To you. Not to someone else. There’ll be no Jonah behavior. Remember that? When God told Him to go to Nineveh, Jonah ran away, because He didn’t want to preach to them. Like Jonah, Jesus has called you to be His witness. That means you will testify about Him to the whole world. There’s no saying, “Someone else will do it! Not me Lord!”

Nor will there be any Moses-like excuse making. “I can’t talk real good,” Moses said, trying to get out of God’s task. “I stumble over my words. I don’t know what to say. I’m not comfortable doing this. I can’t do it!” But Jesus said, You will be given what to say. We don’t bear the burden of making the message. We’re the messengers. Proclaiming God’s Word, people don’t hear us, but Jesus.

Jesus has taken away all excuses. His message for the world is also for you. Repent and be forgiven. You remember when you held back proclaiming Jesus, when you thought, “I don’t want to make things uncomfortable,” or “I don’t know what to say, or how to bring it up, so I won’t say anything.” Or those moments when you never thought of witnessing at all. Jesus says, “I died for that too. Turn away from those sinful attitudes, forget your excuses. You can, because I took that on my shoulders at the cross. I bore that guilt. I cast it into the depths of the sea. I was your witness before God the Father.”

Empowered by that, you’re ready to proclaim the Scriptures to all nations in the name of Jesus. And it’s not as hard as you thought it would be. While Jesus was here, it was easy to stay quiet, let the Master talk. But now He’s taken that visible presence away. There’s no standing behind the Master now. Now the Master uses you. And so you trumpet His words to everyone: God so loved the world, that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. You tell it to friends and neighbors. When you find the lost, you share with them that they’ve been found. When you meet others like yourself, you get together with them, studying God’s Word, joining in prayer and the breaking of bread, and in building places to worship Christ. “Come and see!” you say to the world. “Listen to Jesus, who says: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Yes, Jesus ascending into heaven could be seen by some as a sad event. But not you! You know that THE ASCENDED JESUS IS THE PROPHESIED CHRIST! Jesus opened your mind to understand that you are His forgiven child. Jesus opened your mind to know that He wants the entire world to be His children. Jesus gave you lips so that you might be His messengers, taking that good news into all the world, to every nation, tribe, people, and language. And so as Jesus disappears, you rejoice! You worship Him and praise God! Jesus saved you! He wants everyone saved! He made you His witnesses! Go and tell!

He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes I am coming soon!’ Amen. Come Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

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Responses

  1. thanks so much for this post. I’ve added this post to my blog’s post about Ascension Day. Also added this to my blogger/reader.


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