“Honor, Proclaim, Pronounce, and Roll On the Power!”

Luke 24:44-53

7th Sunday of Easter

Ascension of the Lord

May 24, 2020

the Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

Luke 24:44-53

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Prayer.

I’ve always hated good-byes.

When I was dropped off at college,

I cried like a baby as mom and dad drove out of the parking lot.

When Nicholas, my eldest son, moved to Virginia for seven years,

The hardest thing was to say good-bye after a visit.

I was an emotional basket case driving all the way home

Or watching him pull out of the driveway.

I get choked up seeing soldiers leaving family to go off to war.

Loved ones saying good-bye when death is imminent always brings tears to my eyes.

Since the age of 19,

I’ve served 12 different churches.

I cried saying good-bye at the 11 I left.

When time is short

There is no time for idle chit-chat.

Words have the potential to last a lifetime

In the memory of your loved one.

Like the discipline of writing a sermon

Choose your words carefully.

Get in everything you mean to say.

Keep it short. Succinct. To the point.

Rehearse it in your thoughts.

Then say it.

It’s time to fly.

And so it is with Jesus’ last, final, earthly moment

With his disciples.

His educational investment had been made.

Jesus crammed a four-year college degree into three years

Of lectures, clinical work, and internships in the field.

Every ounce of effort over the past three years

Had gone into this less-than-perfect band of brothers.

Jesus worked with what he had.

He’s now ready to turn over the keys of his in-person, earthly operation

To the work of an omnipresent, but unseen, Holy Spirit.

His final lecture obviously had an impact

With his first-generation disciples.

They spread the word, told the story, and evangelized like a California wildfire.

Jesus’ farewell has been passed on to every generation since.

Today, it is our turn.

The Good News comes to us.

I’m of the mind that

It is important

To stick with what works;

Go with experience,

The proven,

The best practice.

Listen to the whisper of history.

This is what Jesus has to say

Before he flies away:

Honor scripture,

Proclaim the witness,

Pronounce grace, and

Be empowered by the supremacy of God.

1. Honor scripture.

Everything written about Jesus in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.

It does not appear to be Jesus’ intention

To point to any specific Hebrew scripture

That is fulfilled by him.

Rather, that “all Scripture

Finds its ultimate meaning in Jesus,

Particularly in his passion and resurrection.”

(with thanks to professor Richard Carlson, Luther Theological Seminary, as found at workingpreacher.org)

I don’t think it was self-serving job protection,

But I recall my Old Testament professor, Irvin Batdorf,

Who said, “If you want to know Jesus,

You have to know the Old Testament.”

Law and covenant are the necessary foundation

For Jesus to advance a gospel of grace.

History is necessary to understand the ultimate failure of original sin and

The divine initiative to replace sin with repentance and forgiveness;

To replace mortality with immortality. 

Prophecy sets the stage

For incarnation;

Divinity and humanity melded together in Messianic promise.

Honor scripture.

It points to Jesus.

Honor scripture,

Proclaim the witness,

Pronounce grace, and

Be empowered by the supremacy of God.

2. Proclaim the witness.

Proclaim to all the nations what was witnessed,

Starting in Jerusalem, that,

As it was written,

Jesus suffered, died, and has risen from the dead.

Obviously,

Not one of us were present at Golgotha to see Jesus die.

None of us saw him sealed into the tomb

or observed guards posted at the door.

Not one of us were eye-witness observers of Jesus’ resurrection,

Or of his many encounters with his disciples and others before his ascension.

Yet, every one of us have been taught

The first-hand witness like it just happened yesterday and

We saw it with our own two eyes.

We’ve been told the story.

The story, experience, and encounter with Jesus

Is not ours to keep;

It is our responsibility to pass the witness on

To the next generation of disciples.

The witness has been entrusted to you and me.

Now, at the moment right before lift off

Jesus directs us to

Proclaim the witness to the world.

Jesus suffered for our sins.

He died an earthly death,

Just like every other mortal person.

Jesus rose from the dead,

Immortal as only God can be.

In defeating death,

Jesus gives to us life,

Everlasting life.

You’re living the story;

Proclaim it!

Honor scripture,

Proclaim the witness,

Pronounce grace, and

Be empowered by the supremacy of God.

3. Pronounce God’s grace.

Grace is God’s gift

Freely given

For our acceptance.

The grace Jesus cites before his final good-bye

Is the opportunity to repent of sins

And be forgiven by God.

Pronounce repentance and forgiveness of sins

In the name of Jesus.

Repentance means to turn your back on sin

And vow never to return to sinning.

Repentance means leaving the dark side

And walking only in the light of righteous behavior.

Walk the walk and talk the talk.

Repentance means making restitution

For the damage you’ve done.

Repent of former ways.

Christians lead by example.

Proclaim repentance

That others might follow.

We repent in the name of Jesus

To promote Jesus.

Turning over a new leaf

Is all well and good,

But repentance alone leaves unfinished business behind.

Forgiveness rights the wrong,

– Repairs the offense –

As if it never happened in the first place.

Repentance is behavior;

Forgiveness is Divine.

Our forgiveness was paid for on the cross.

It is a God’s gift of grace given to you and me.

We know this, and have claimed this.

Likewise, forgive others.

Forgiveness doesn’t come from any words you say.

The forgiveness of others

Came from the same cross that forgives our sins.

Do not withhold forgiveness,

For it is not ours to deny.

When you forgive others,

Do it in the name of Jesus Christ.

Forgiveness, intentionally presented in the name of Christ,

Places an emphasis upon

God’s gift of grace already paid for and delivered.

Like a delivery package on your porch,

Forgiveness is God’s gift waiting to be claimed.

Honor scripture,

Proclaim the witness,

Pronounce grace, and

Be empowered by the supremacy of God.

4. Be empowered by the supremacy of God.

Be assured, you will be clothed with power from on high,

Jesus promised his disciples.

The author of the Gospel of Luke, and

The Acts of the Apostles to follow,

Reported that Jesus ascended into heaven

40 days after his resurrection from the dead and

10 days before the feast of Pentecost,

Which we will celebrate next Sunday.

In place of a single Messiah limited by time and place

To teach, heal, cast out demons, and raise the dead for a select few

The ascension of Jesus makes it possible for God to present as Holy Spirit;

Omnipresent: Always present.

Omniscient: All knowing.

Omnipotent: All powerful.

God’s Presence. Wisdom. Power.

Setting up shop inside of you and me.

Awesome!

Our God is an awesome God,

Unlike any competitors.

There is no limit to what God through the Holy Spirit can do

In and through our lives.

We don’t face difficulty alone.

God is with us.

We don’t have to rely on our own intelligence.

The Holy Spirit knows and guides us.

We don’t have to have the strength.

The Holy Spirit has it all.

Honor scripture,

Proclaim the witness,

Pronounce grace, and

Be empowered by the supremacy of God.

As Jesus is lifted away to make room for the coming of the Holy Spirit next Sunday,

Let us join with the disciples of old.

Worship Jesus Christ.

Be filled with joy.

Be blessed by God, and

Be God’s blessing to the world.

Amen.

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