Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Ascension

"The Comfort of our Lord's Ascension for us"

Acts 1:6-11

May 8, 2016

Once upon a time, the Ascension was considered a major festival of the church. Once upon a time there were church services each Ascension day. Over the decades that practice has all but disappeared. How many of you remembered last Thursday was Ascension Day? May 5 was celebrated in a big way not as Ascension Day but Cinco de Maio.

So, you may ask, "what's the big deal?" The better question is the catechism question, "what does this mean?" Why is the ascension important? What does it mean for us today?

Acts 1:6-11. So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."

We learn that the disciples understood that Jesus was leaving them. They realized that He would no longer be physically among them. Their understanding was reinforced by the brief message of the angels. This message actually cheered them. It's a message that should cheer us as well.

Only Jesus Christ deserves to be the focus of our faith. He is the promised Messiah. Only Jesus has saved us from the punishment of sin and hell. Jesus is the only Savior who put His life on the line for the people He loved by dying on the cross. As much as we are tempted to put our trust in politicians and generals, we need to look to the real source of hope in a world falling apart before our eyes.

The angels stated that just as our Lord ascended, He will return. When He returns, it will be in all of His glory in the company of the saints and angels. This is what Paul writes in his first letter to the Thessalonians: "Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." [1 Thes. 4:17]. That's the rapture. It will happen on the Last Day. There will be no secret about it.

Until our Lord returns, we persevere. We encourage one another in our walk of faith. The Lord comes to us in the encouragement of His word. He comes to assure us of our forgiveness and strengthen our faith. He comes to help us live as His people in the world that is becoming more and more hostile to the message of the cross. By God's grace, we will continue to live faithfully as His people in this troubled world sharing His gifts, His blessings and the hope of His Gospel.

The focus of our faith is always and only Jesus Christ. We don't know what life holds for us. We have be blessed to live comfortably here without knowing the sufferings of the gulags or mass slaughter of people for the faith. If so rejoice and be thankful. All of us will endure some sort of suffering and tribulation in life. The good news is that the Lord promises to be here for us. He promises to give us the strength we need to meet the challenges of life.

But in the meantime, we're talking about our Lord's Ascension. So what does the Ascension mean for us? First, we have the picture language of victory. In the ancient world when the army returned victorious from battle, they brought gifts for the king. These gifts were prisoners of war, perhaps even the defeated king, and as much valuable loot as they could carry away.

Jesus went up to heaven as the Victor. This was His coronation event as He is proclaimed to be King of the universe. What were the spoils of victory He took with Him? We know that He took captive the power of sin, death and the devil. While these three are still around, they do not have the power over us they once had. Jesus has taken them captive and they can no longer hold us in their bondage.

The second thing we need to remember about the Ascension is that Jesus went to fill all things so that He could give good gifts to the church. What are these? These are the gifts of grace. The Lord continues to come to us in the Word and in the sacraments. He gives us the gifts of the Spirit and the fruits of faith through the church. You have been baptized, taught, and confirmed. You have received these gifts of grace.

Because the Lord Christ reigns in His ascended glory, we know that He rules His church through the mean of grace. He comes to us in the Word and in the sacraments. As we receive Him in the Word and in the sacraments, we have a foretaste of the feast to come.

Our challenge is to determine how the gifts God has given us will flow through us to touch the world. Each one of you needs to ask how you are going to use the gifts God has given you? Don't forget we are all God's gift to one another. Life is not "all about me." The meaning of life is measured in your vocation as you use the talents, skills and abilities God has given you. The measure of your life is seen in giving, serving and your living as the people of God right here at his place and time.

Thirdly, there is the sending. The disciples were getting ready to be sent into the world with the Gospel. The Lord continues to send us into the world. Next Sunday will be graduation day. Our seniors are getting ready to embark on their life adventures. Just as the disciples knew that our risen and ascended Lord would travel with them wherever they went to proclaim the Gospel, so you graduates will also have the Lord walking with you wherever your life journey takes you.

Although He ascended, the Lord continued to be with His disciples. While He sojourned on earth, He could only be one place at one time. With His ascension, He is with us always. Even though we can't see Him, He is here. He is with His people in all places at all times. The Lord will be with you today and tomorrow. He will be with you wherever you go. We celebrate His victory both now and in the glory of heaven. The peace of the Lord go with you today and always. Amen.


September
09/24/2017
09/17/2017
09/10/2017
09/03/2017
August
08/27/2017
08/20/2017
08/13/2017
08/06/2017
July
07/30/2017
07/23/2017
07/16/2017
07/09/2017
June
06/25/2017
06/18/2017
06/11/2017
06/04/2017
May
05/21/2017
05/14/2017
05/07/2017
April
04/23/2017
04/16/2017
04/09/2017
04/02/2017
March
03/26/2017
03/19/2017
03/12/2017
03/05/2017
February
02/26/2017
02/05/2017
January
01/29/2017
01/22/2017
01/15/2017
01/08/2017
01/01/2017

December
12/25/2016
12/18/2016
12/11/2016
12/04/2016
November
11/27/2016
11/20/2016
11/13/2016
11/06/2016
October
10/30/2016
10/23/2016
10/16/2016
10/09/2016
10/02/2016
September
09/25/2016
09/18/2016
09/11/2016
09/04/2016
August
08/28/2016
08/21/2016
July
07/31/2016
07/24/2016
07/17/2016
07/03/2016
June
06/26/2016
06/19/2016
06/05/2016
May
05/29/2016
05/22/2016
05/15/2016
05/08/2016
05/01/2016
April
04/17/2016
04/10/2016
04/03/2016
March
03/27/2016
03/20/2016
03/13/2016
03/06/2016
February
02/28/2016
02/21/2016
02/17/2016
02/14/2016
02/07/2016
January
01/31/2016
01/24/2016
01/03/2016
01/01/2016

December
12/27/2015
12/20/2015
12/13/2015
12/06/2015
November
11/22/2015
11/15/2015
11/08/2015
11/01/2015
October
10/25/2015
10/18/2015
10/11/2015
10/04/2015
September
09/27/2015
09/20/2015
09/13/2015
09/06/2015
August
08/30/2015
08/23/2015
08/16/2015
08/09/2015
08/02/2015
July
07/26/2015
07/19/2015
07/12/2015
07/05/2015
June
06/28/2015
06/21/2015
06/14/2015
06/07/2015
May
05/31/2015
05/24/2015
05/17/2015
05/10/2015
April
04/19/2015
04/12/2015
04/12/2015
04/05/2015
March
03/29/2015
03/22/2015
03/15/2015
03/08/2015
February
02/15/2015
02/15/2015
02/08/2015
02/01/2015
January
01/25/2015
01/25/2015
01/18/2015
01/11/2015
01/04/2015

December
12/28/2014
12/21/2014
12/14/2014
12/07/2014
November
11/23/2014
11/16/2014
11/09/2014
11/02/2014
October
10/12/2014
10/05/2014
September
09/28/2014
09/21/2014
09/14/2014
09/07/2014
August
08/31/2014
08/24/2014
08/17/2014
08/10/2014
08/03/2014
July
07/27/2014
07/20/2014
07/13/2014
07/06/2014
June
06/29/2014
06/22/2014
06/15/2014
06/08/2014
06/01/2014
May
05/11/2014
April
04/27/2014
04/20/2014
04/13/2014
04/06/2014
March
03/30/2014
03/23/2014
03/16/2014
03/02/2014
February
02/02/2014
January
01/26/2014
01/19/2014
01/12/2014
01/05/2014