4th Sunday of Easter – B LSB #’s 474, 480, 478
Text – Acts 4:1-2
And as they were speaking to the people, the priests & the captain of the temple & the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people & proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
PROCLAIMING IN JESUS
Were you thinking about the words? As you were singing the sermon hymn, did you give any thought to what exactly you were doing? In verse 3 you were proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead! “But short was their triumph; the Savior arose, & death, hell & Satan He vanquished, His foes….” LSB 480:3.
While singing, you were doing what Peter & John were doing thousands of years ago, although you have not been arrested – yet. It’s not a pleasant thought for us who are very accustomed to the life of luxury in which we live. In the time of Peter & John even the emperors did not have the conveniences of life that you & I enjoy & take so for granted.
This life of ease that we have makes it difficult for us to seek first the kingdom of God like Peter & John were doing. Prison time did not deter them from speaking about the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Prison time did not deter them from speaking about the hope that all mankind has in the life hereafter because Jesus did not rot in the grave.
Here is the Apostle Paul’s take on it: “How, then, might they call [on Him] on whom they did not believe? And how might they believe [on Him] of whom they did not hear? And how might they hear without one proclaiming?” (Romans 10:14)
A visitor, looking for hope in this broken world, could be watching the livestream, or be here in person. You might not greet them or say hello, but you can still proclaim the sure & certain hope that God’s children have simply through singing the hymns. “…The conquering Lord lifts His banner on high; He lives, yes, He lives, & nevermore will die. O, where is your sting, death? We fear you no more; Christ rose, & now open is fair Eden’s door. For all our transgressions His blood does atone; redeemed & forgiven, we now are His own.” LSB 480:3-4. If you are not singing, might a visitor conclude that Jesus’ resurrection has not overcome the sorrows, the struggles or the brokenness of your life?
In Philippians 4:4 we find these words, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (ESV) That is so contrary to our attitude toward life because we focus so much on the temporary things that are passing away, which moth & rust are destroying & which death is swallowing up. Rejoicing is so contrary to our attitude because we are living by sight.
The Word of God calls us instead to live by faith, & when doing so then we find a multitude of reasons to rejoice. When living by faith we find a multitude of opportunities to proclaim in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And it is not just a resurrection from the dead. It is also a resurrection from all the brokenness of this life, however long it may be!
Day by day, moment by moment, the children of God are being re-created into the new creatures that we will fully become at the resurrection of the dead. Sadly, our attitudes don’t always reflect that. Sin has broken us beyond repair, so death must come in order that eternal life may follow. The old is passing away. The new has come, but we see that by faith alone.
If you find yourself down in the mouth & unable to sing, think about this – God the almighty holds us accountable for our shortcomings & failures. That thought, by itself, will put you even further down in the mouth, but with God that thought is never alone! Do you know where He holds you accountable?
Yahweh, the supreme being of all the universe holds you & me accountable for our sins & He does so in His Son Jesus Christ. God holds us accountable on the cross at Golgotha & for that every human being ought to be eternally grateful. It is that gratitude which motivates us to love God instead of ourselves. It is that gratitude which motivates us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It is that gratitude, & that gratitude alone, causes us to sing with joy, “He’s risen, He’s risen, Christ Jesus the Lord; He opened death’s prison, the incarnate, true Word. Break forth hosts of heaven, in jubilant song…” LSB 480:1.
And that gratitude flows out of the gift given to you by God Himself. Maybe you don’t open that gift every day. Maybe you’ve forgotten what Easter really means! Maybe you just don’t understand what salvation is all about. It’s very likely that one reason we lack gratitude is that we don’t really understand the gift that God has given.
Pastors throw around the word “salvation” so often that it’s become a cliché among those of us who follow Jesus. What is salvation? What does that word mean? Can you explain it to someone who does not follow Jesus? What do you think of when you hear the word? What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “saved by the blood of Jesus”?
I believe that most Christians think of salvation only in terms of ‘no more sin.’ That certainly is a great thing, but it is far from the only thing! It is a very incomplete picture of what salvation is & what it means for you!
In the reading from the book of Acts we heard that Peter & John were come upon by the priests & the captain of the temple & the Sadducees. These “leaders” were greatly annoyed because Peter & John were teaching the people & proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. So they arrested them & put them in prison until the next day.
On the next day their rulers & elders & scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest & Caiaphas & John & Alexander, & all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” The “this” they are referring to was covered in previous chapter of Acts.
Now Peter & John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer… And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple… to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter & John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, & said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver & gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up & walk!” And he took him by the right hand & raised him up, & immediately his feet & ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood & began to walk, & entered the temple with them, walking & leaping & praising God. (Acts 3:1-8 ESV)
Peter demonstrated the nature of salvation. Peter says this man was saved, not just healed. He received wholeness, strength & health. All who enter heaven will exist in complete wholeness, strength & health. No vitamins or medicines needed. No more health insurance will be necessary. No deductibles & co-pays. Exercise & weight training will be unneeded.
One of the effects of sin is that we can barely understand what it is to live without sin. We view salvation as “forgiveness of sins” right now & as “eternal life” after we die. We look at salvation as something that is spiritual, but not physical. We don’t really look at ourselves as being saved in the here & now.
With heaven, there certainly is a lot more to look forward to, but don’t let your eyes overcome your faith in this life. In the reading from Acts 4, we learn that “salvation” is a matter of both soul & body & heart & mind.
Having salvation means that evil can no longer harm us in the ultimate way, which is eternal death. While moth & rust destroy the temporary things of this life, evil & its results are also temporary for those who trust in Jesus as Savior from sin. Salvation is what brings health & life & peace into human beings, & on the Last Day into all of creation.
In Christ – is the realm in which there is shalom, of which resurrection from the dead is a given. Resurrection is a demonstration of the essence of shalom. The healing of the crippled man is a demonstration of the essence of shalom. Singing praises to God & singing of what Jesus has done to make you & me new, those are a demonstration of the essence of shalom. Yet, the Jewish leaders were outraged because Peter & John explained the cause of the crippled man’s healing.
Our current president, in his Easter message to the nation just weeks ago, never once mentioned the name of Jesus, but he did mention the Easter bunny. If he was worried about offending those who do not follow Jesus, he should have skipped the Easter message all together. There is no point in talking about Easter if we leave Jesus out of it.
Someday, people in this country are going to end up in prison for proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Churches have already been discriminated against through the pandemic lockdowns of our government. We should not be surprised that these things are happening. The world hates us because it hates Jesus, & it hates the teachings of Jesus.
Increasingly, our culture is calling evil good, while it is calling good evil. Yet, we need to keep in perspective these attacks on Christians who are simply living out their faith in Christ. The evil in this universe, in this country, & in our own hearts & minds, has already been defeated. For those who trust in Jesus the effects of evil are only temporary.
The wholeness in us wants to proclaim what Jesus has done in our lives so that He can accomplish the same in the lives of others. The wholeness in us wants to proclaim the life & the blessing & the joy that we receive from our Father in heaven. Through His life, death & resurrection Jesus has returned that wholeness to His creation.
No matter what the world may do to us, this wholeness, or salvation, is ours through faith “in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Then sing your hosannas & raise your glad voice; proclaim the blest tidings that all may rejoice. Laud, honor & praise to the Lamb that was slain: with Father & Spirit He ever shall reign. Amen. LSB 480:5.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet