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Seventh Sunday of Easter

May 24, 2020 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Easter

Passage: John 17:1–17:11

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: John 20:19-31
Date: May 24, 2020; Easter 7; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • Shortly before Jesus was betrayed, arrested, and crucified He prayed what has become known as “The High Priestly Prayer”.  
  • Knowing that He was going to the cross and would be separated from His disciples, Jesus prayed that they be united by faith in Him.  He prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:11). 
  • God the Father answered Jesus’ prayer by sending the Holy Spirit to call His disciples by the Gospel, gather and enlighten them with His gifts, and to sanctify and keep them united in the one true faith. 
  • The Holy Spirit continues this work in the church today. He continues to unite us, God’s people, through His Word of truth.
  • During this time of being apart, of not being able gather at church, our “oneness” might be more difficult to see and experience.  This pandemic has left us scattered.  The separation and isolation it has caused is extremely difficult. 
  • But in Christ we are united, we are one, and we always will be.  In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul proclaims, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
  • The unity we have with God and each other is not through our own effort, but is something that Christ has accomplished for us, and it is something we receive through the faith God supplies.  
  • Our unity, our being one, isn’t just some abstract idea that makes us feel nice and connected.  It is founded on the person of Christ Jesus, true God and true man, and is tethered in what He accomplished in history through His life, death, and resurrection.
  • There was unity between God and those He created in His image.  But, this union was destroyed and separation began when Adam and Eve were no longer satisfied with their relationship with God.  
  • The crafty serpent convinced our first parents that the gift of life they received and the abundant blessings of the earth were not enough.  
  • He attacked God’s Word, what makes us one, when he asked, “Did God actually say…?” 
  • Adam and Eve took a big bite out of the deception that God was holding out on them.  They were no longer content with being made in the image of God; they wanted to become like God knowing good and evil.  So they ate.
  • We see the separation that sin caused first manifest itself when Adam and Eve hid from God in their shame. Then we see division introduced between Adam and Eve when he blamed her for his sin.  
  • Cain murdered Abel and soon the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great.  
  • Today we continue to suffer separation from God and divisions with each other and we see that the wickedness of man is still great.  We not only observe this, we cause and contribute to it when we refuse to love God above all and our neighbour as ourselves.
  • We separate ourselves from God whenever we fear, love, and trust in anything above Him.  Ourselves, our family, our work, our hobbies, our stuff.  
  • We separate ourselves from God when we misuse His name.  When we swear thoughtlessly and in vain.  When we use God’s name like a magic spell to get what we want or to curse others.  When we deceive others by speaking and teaching falsely about God.  
  • We separate ourselves from God by neglecting His Word and Sacraments and by disregarding His Word of truth.
  • We cause and contribute to divisions with each other when we do not honour, serve, and obey our parents and other authorities through whom God nurtures, supports, and protects our life on earth.  
  • When we do or say anything that injures or endangers our neighbour, when we murder, when we neglect to assist people in their bodily needs, when we harbour anger or hatred in our hearts against our neighbour.  
  • We contribute to the divisions with each other when we do not lead sexually pure lives and honour marriage.  
  • When we take our neighbour’s money or possessions in a dishonest way instead of helping to improve and protect their possessions and income.  
  • When we tell lies about our neighbour, betray, slander, or hurt their reputation.  
  • When we are not content with the gifts God has provided and covet what belongs to our neighbour. 
  • Repent of your sin that has caused separation between you and God.  Repent of Your sin that has caused divisions with your neighbour.
  • Repent.  But do not despair.  Repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15).
  • God dealt with our sin and removed all that separates us from Him and each other when Christ Jesus came into this fallen world to be our Saviour.  
  • Jesus entered into our presence and shed His blood on the cross to cleanse us from our sins and all unrighteousness.
  • By Adam’s sin we were made sinners unable to be in God’s holy presence.  By Christ’s obedience we all have been made righteous (Romans 5:19) and we will dwell together in the house of the Lord forever.
  • We are made holy, we are made one, by the most holy things: God’s Word and Sacraments.  
  • All holiness flows from God, so our holiness is being in His presence where He promises to be.  
  • Through these means of grace God gives the Holy Spirit who works faith in those who hear the gospel.  Through faith we receive all that God has done to save us in Christ.
  • Baptism is not just water, but joined with God’s powerful and living Word, it is a gracious water of rebirth and renewing in the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
  • Through Baptism Christ gives to you personally the forgiveness of sins that He won for the whole world, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
  • In Baptism we are made one with Christ and we become part of His Body, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). 
  • So that we more confidently believe this and are strengthened in our faith and in holy living, Christ gave us His true body and true blood to eat and drink.  
  • Whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup trusting what Christ has promised dwells in Christ and Christ in him and has eternal life.  For just as the one cup is filled with the wine of many grapes and one bread made from countless grains, so we who are many are one in Christ. 
  • We don’t get closer to God by our own reason or strength or through spiritual exercises, but by drawing close to Him where He makes Himself available: words, water, bread and wine.
  • Jesus prayed that we be one and be given eternal life and the Father answered His prayer.  The Father answered Jesus’ prayer by glorifying His Son through His life, death, and resurrection which removes our sin and guilt and shame - all that separates us from God and each other.
  • In Christ we are one with God and each other and we will be forever.  
All praise to Christ we bring,
Our Lord who intercedes,
Our great High Priest enthroned above
Who knows our needs;
And to the Father sing
Our songs of thankful praise, 
Who with the Spirit reigns in love
For endless days. (LSB #564, v.6).
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Easter

May 17, 2020

Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 10, 2020

Fifth Sunday of Easter 2020

May 3, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Easter