Rogate (Easter 6)
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
May 10, 2015
Central Passage
John 16:23-30

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is speaking to His disciples on the night when He betrayed. He is speaking to them about things to come and says to them, “In that day.” “At that time I will speak to you plainly about the Father.” “In that day you will ask Me nothing but whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you … In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall ask the Father for you.”

Today is that day.

But I don’t mean that May 10, 2015, is that day. I mean that we are living in that day and have been living in that day since Jesus ascended to the Father. This is the day of the Lord and it has gone on now for some 2,000 years. That’s how you must think of the kingdom of Christ; as never-ending having begun when the Christ, risen from the dead, ascended to the Father having put all things under His feet. Today He rules the nations in mercy and grace.

But a quick look at the world around us challenges this notion that Christ rules the nations at all, much less in mercy and grace. But He does. It is the world that rejects His rule which is why the world is in such chaos and turmoil and will be until that final day when the Christ will raise the dead and reveal the children of God to all creation.

All the wickedness of the world even down to our own wickedness when we lie and gossip and slander even our brothers and sisters in Christ with our haughty looks or our self-absorbed pity parties, all wickedness of the world is a rejection of the rule of Christ. Christ is the mirror for every man, woman, and child, for He is the perfect Man from whom we receive our definition of what it means to be human and the beloved of God. Jesus is not the perfection we strive to obtain, for we can never obtain perfection by our own efforts. Rather Jesus is the perfection we must confess we do not possess. This is what it means to confess that we are sinful and unclean.

But the King is reigning even if the world rejects His reign. He is faithful even if the world is faithless for He is true to Himself. Which means that even if the world is wicked and evil – and it is – still He rules in mercy and truth. For He did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. But from where does He rule? We have and know the answer to that, perhaps especially as Lutherans. He rules from His means of grace. His kingdom is a kingdom of grace so He must rule from the means of grace, which are the mysteries or sacraments, including private absolution by which we each individually hear in our own ears that He is merciful to us and does not count our sins and rebellion against us but deals with us mercifully and forgives us all our sins.

When you go to confession – and all of should go at least once in our lives, especially when our conscience and the word of God are condemning us – we are not coming to show how evil we are but to show how merciful and kind our Lord is. We are not coming to boast in our wickedness but to boast in the Lord’s love toward us. Confession, then, is not arduous or heavy but easy and light because it is not for us to bear the load but to lay the load upon our Christ who bears it for us, giving us His light burden and easy yoke of being loved by the Father.

When we are gathered together here by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, it is to teach us how to live in the kingdom of grace Christ has and is establishing by His word of peace. We eat and drink here not to obey some law but to live in freedom, the freedom Christ gives from the condemnation of the Law. We are not here to prove what good Christians we are but to prove what a merciful God we have. We are not here to fulfill some law but to be filled with the law of love.

When we look into the mirror of the law of love we see Jesus who laid down His life for us and lives and reigns on High for us, for our good. Jesus is our reflection because we have been baptized into Him and have been clothed with Him. But if we forget what we look like, that we look like the Son of God being children of God ourselves through holy Baptism, then we are as St. James says, we are not doers but hearers only. But if we live in the law of love which is to forgive as we have been forgiven and love as we have been loved, then we are free and are blessed in our doing.

This divine gathering is the mirror that all people look into. And here they see Jesus for this is His Body and He makes Himself known in the breaking of the bread. But the wicked turn from this mirror and forget what it is they are supposed to look like and they return to their evil like a dog to its vomit. But those who look here and find Christ and His Father, those to whom He reveals Himself and speaks to them plainly about the Father, they are blessed forever.

This is how it has been for 2,000 years now: men, women, and children, the aged and the infants, being gathered to hear, to eat, to drink and to live in the day of the Lord, which is today. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day of the Lord. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

+ In Nomine Iesu +