Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
April 15, 2018
Acts 3:11-21, 1 John 3:1-7, Luke 24:36-49

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Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com  
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Occasionally, at Immanuel Lutheran School on Fridays when I teach 7th and 8th grade religion, we will have open forum Friday where the students are invited to write down questions and I try to answer them.  Some of the questions are pretty deep, “What happens to children who die without baptism.”, some are lighter, “What is your real name?  What is your favorite food?”  This past Friday one of the kids asked me, “What is the worst thing you did as a kid?”

Now that is a pretty convicting question.  Pondering this question brings waves of guilt and shame in remembering past sins.  I have lots to choose from.  What would I be willing to share? Is there anything I would be willing to share?  What is the worst thing I have done as an adult?  Again, so many things to choose from, would I dare to speak any out loud in public?

What we said at the beginning of the service is certainly true.  It is certainly true for me.  I am by nature sinful and unclean.  I am a poor sinner in need of mercy.  I am needy.  When we confess being a poor, miserable sinners it doesn’t refer to our state of mind; that we are unhappy or something.  It refers to our neediness, our being spiritually destitute.  It means that as a sinner I have a great need…an overwhelming need… for forgiveness.

Each one of you is by nature, sinful and unclean.  Each one of you is a poor, miserable sinner in need of forgiveness.  Each one of you has sins in your past and in your present that you do not want to speak out loud.  Each of you is burdened by guilt and shame because of who you are and what you have done.  This is the hard, ugly truth about sin.  But Jesus does not leave you in the tomb of your sin.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!  And this changes everything.  God loves you.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God…”  God the Father loves you.  See what kind of love the Father has given you.  This is an extraordinary love.  This is an incredible love.  Who could love someone like me with all the dark perversion of my sinfulness and my struggle?  Who could love someone like you; a natural born sinner?  The great Good News is that, indeed, the Father loves you and sent His Son to take your place; to pay for your sin; to suffer in your stead.  Jesus died for you on the cross and Jesus rose from the dead for you.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!  This changes everything.

Christ risen from the dead means you too will rise from the dead.  Christ risen from the dead proves that Jesus truly is God in flesh.  Christ risen from the dead proves that forgiveness of sins in Jesus is the truth.  Christ risen from the dead proves Christianity is truth.

Jesus risen from the dead means you are not left mired down in the swamp of your sin.  No longer are you a sinner deserving punishment now and forever.  No longer are you blind, dead and an enemy of God.  No longer are you a lost and condemned person.  No longer.  You are now a child of God because Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Some folks like to think that all religions are the same, but Christianity is different.  What is different about Christianity?  Christianity is based on evidence.  Christianity is based on the evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.  Christianity can be disproven.  If someone finds Jesus’ body Christianity is destroyed.  Christianity needs a resurrected Jesus.  If Christ is not raised from the dead then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.  If Christ is not raised from the dead then we are all just wasting our time.

But Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!  This changes everything.

Jesus rising from the dead doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Normally when people die they stay dead.  But Jesus is not a normal person.  Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!  We have the eye witness accounts recorded in the Bible.  We have the record of the eyewitnesses continuing to preach the Good News of a resurrected Jesus.  The eyewitnesses continue to preach the Good news of the resurrected Jesus even though it costs 10 out of 11 of them their lives.

Jesus risen from the dead means you are not left mired down in the swamp of your sin.  No longer are you a sinner deserving punishment now and forever.  No longer are you blind, dead and an enemy of God.  No longer are you a lost and condemned person.  No longer.  You are now a child of God because Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

You are a child of God.  You are God’s child right now.  And the best is yet to come.  When Jesus returns on the last day you will be raised up to be like Him.

At your baptism you are clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness.  At your baptism you are clothed in Christ.  You wear Christ.  We saw two more put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness this morning as two of our students, Aybri and Bella, come through the waters of Holy Baptism.  You are a child of God.  You have been declared to be righteous, innocent and blessed.  You are a saint of God.  Saint ________.  Saint ________.  Saint ________.  Christ’s death is your death.  Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection.  You belong to Christ.  You put on Christ.  27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Gal. 3:27)

You are a baptized child of God.  You are a saint of God.  You wear Christ.  But wearing Christ can be uncomfortable in this world.  The reason the world does not know you is that it did not know Jesus.  Jesus did not fit into this world; they wanted to kill Him.  As a child of God you do not fit in the world.  People will look at you as if you are some kind of freak.  People will think you are some backwards, foul, relic from the past because you wear Christ.

You wear Christ and move through life in this world as the world is continually pushing you and pulling you and desperately trying to get you to conform to the ways of the world.  The world wants you to give in to your sinful desires.  The world wants you to let your sin rule your life; let sin call the shots.  The world wants you to take off the robe of Christ’s righteousness so you can fit in and live under the rule of sin and the devil.

It is easy to give in to sin.  It is natural to give in to sin.  Giving in to sin and living in sin allows you to go with the flow of the world.  The world tells you to be yourself, no matter what that is.  But you are not yourself.  You do not belong to yourself.  You are a child of God.  You have put on Christ.  You should not be yourself; you should not be your natural, rebellious, sinner self.  You should be your redeemed, holy, child of God, saint self; the saint self that lives in Christ.

As a redeemed child of God washed clean in the blood of Jesus you no longer belong to the darkness and so you are called to struggle against sin and temptation.  You are called to fight against the sin that creeps into your life and wants to take up residence.  You are called to push back against sinful desires and sinful situations because you no longer practice sin.  You are called to live a life of repentance.  You are a child of God.  You live in the refreshing joy of Easter.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!  This changes everything.

This is why you need Jesus.  You need to gather together every week to be refreshed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus.  Each Sunday we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and receive the gifts of God.  You need the refreshment of hearing “I forgive you all your sins.”  You need the renewal of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins.  You need Jesus and Jesus is here for you as we gather together each week to receive His gifts and to love and support one another.

What is the worst thing that you have done in your past?  It doesn’t matter.  It is no longer there.  It is covered by the blood of Jesus.  It is washed away.  You are a child of God who lives in the refreshing stream of the water life.  You live in the ongoing truth of Easter.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Amen.

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