Text: John 14:1-14
Date: Easter V + 5/14/17
In the Easter season the first thing we learn of what it means that the Lord Jesus is risen from the dead is that He now lives for us in both His full humanity and exulted deity. That we witness Him appearing to His disciples and then disappearing—appearing and disappearing—is to teach us, in part, that He is with us always whether we can see Him or not. But now reflecting on the words He spoke to us before His suffering, death and resurrection we begin to understand more fully what He meant because now we have the key to understanding, namely, the resurrection. As we do reflect on the words He spoke that first Holy Thursday, “on the night in which He was betrayed,” we are being prepared for His Ascension into heaven on the 40th day of Easter after which he will no longer be appearing and disappearing but will be with us by faith through word, sacrament and Spirit alone.
We remember the confusion and ignorance on that night, our spiritual ignorance and confusion. Jesus told us He was going to prepare a place for us in the Father’s house. Thomas objected, saying, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Even when He pointed to Himself, saying, “I am the way,” as He meant when He said, “I am the door of the sheep,” He says that in Him we know and have seen the Father. Philip then objected, saying, “Show us the Father.” Seeing is believing, right?
This new way of being with us invisibly is troubling because we must now learn what it means to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). That the Lord is risen is a statement of faith. That is, without a God-given faith, both the eyes of your body and of your heart remain blind to the things of God. The enemies who stoned and murdered Stephen, the first deacon martyr, could not see what Stephen so clearly saw with his eyes of faith, namely, “the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
So let’s take the doubt, ignorance and blindness out of our text and see and hear it through the eyes of resurrection faith. It is by faith alone that our troubled hearts are stilled. And not just any faith in anything but faith in God and in Jesus. To have faith in God and Jesus means to know God and be convinced that He is as scripture has revealed Him. He is the Triune God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet one God. He is the Creator of all things as the expression of His essence of love. He is the lover of mankind, the redeemer from sin, death and the devil. He is the Lord of life who will come again and take us to himself, “that where I am you may be also.”
This faith knows and follows the way to the Father, namely, Jesus. By His work of salvation faith then takes up our little crosses, denies self and selfishness and follows Jesus. By His word and Spirit Jesus leads us on “Till our rest is won; And although the way be cheerless, We will follow calm and fearless. Guide us by Thy hand To our fatherland” (LSB 718). Faith knows that when we see Jesus we are seeing the Father, for Jesus speaks and does according to the Father’s word and will, He is of one substance with the Father, He and the Father are one.
Our sermon title, “Our Victorious King,” comes from the old Latin hymn:
At the Lamb’s high feast we sing
Praise to our victorious King. (LSB 633)
That hymn sounds so much like you would find it in the Easter section of the hymnal as it says,
Now no more can death appall,
Now no more the grave enthrall;
You have opened paradise,
And Your saints in You shall rise.
Easter triumph, Easter joy!
This alone can sin destroy;
From sin’s pow’r, Lord, set us free,
Newborn souls in You to be.
It sounds like Easter and even mentions Easter! But it is not found in the Easter section of the hymnal. Rather, surprisingly, it is in the section of hymns for The Lord’s Supper! Our Lord “gives His sacred blood for wine, gives His body for the feast.”
Paschal victim, paschal bread;
With sincerity and love
Eat we manna from above.
This is why the Lord’s Supper is celebrated every Lord’s day and more often if it is requested. This is why every Lord’s day, every Sunday is a “little” Easter throughout the year, even in the forty days of Lent. Why? Because this is the most important, sure, certain, and intimate way in which Christ is with us to the end of the age. Here nothing is left to mere imagination. Here in a mysterious but real way He touches us with His true body and true blood under the forms of bread and wine as He commanded us to do. This is why we do not handle these elements or vessels in a haphazard or careless way. When we bow toward the sacrament we are not bowing to bread and wine but to the Lord Himself who says “This is mine.”
Since He is Our Victorious King, St. Peter says, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Since he is Our Victorious King, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” He has gone to prepare a place for you and will come again and will take you to Himself that where He is you may be also. Since He is Our Victorious King let us live by faith as a holy nation walking in and proclaiming His marvelous light, the light of faith, the light of life.