Fourth Sunday of Easter 2017

May 7, 2017

Bible Text: John 16:16-22 |

Series:

Christ is among you! He is now and will be forever! I tell you this, not because you refuse to believe it, but because you forget both its truth and its comfort. Our Lord did not promise that he would be with us only when He thought it best. He said, “Behold, I am with you always—even until the end of the age.” And He did not say He would be with us only when we invited Him. He said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Christ is among you! He is now and will be forever! It must be repeated, for you are accustomed to believing only what you see with your eyes or what makes sense to your reason and logic. Our Lord knows this. And so He says, “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.” He is not just preparing His disciples for His arrest and death; He is also comforting you. He is telling you that there will be a time when you will not see Him. But that should not cause you alarm or make you wonder about His love for you or cause you to believe that He has left you. Neither should your inability to see Jesus mean that you can now live as you please. Just because you cannot see the Lord, that does not mean He is not among you.  He says, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” And He says, “I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Christ is among you! Your physical eyes cannot discern His presence, but that is due to your inability, not His absence. The veil of sin and doubt covers your eyes. But our Lord wishes to be seen by those He has come to save. And by His Holy Spirit, He grants you the ability to see Him…but first with the eyes of faith. Jesus does not say, “You will not see Me,” and leave it at that. Instead He says, “A little while.” In other words, for a short time you do not see the Lord. But then He says, “Again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”

You may think that you now live in the “little while” when we do not see the Lord. And, in a way, you are right. For who has seen the Lord in the same way that St. Thomas or St. Peter saw Jesus? None of us have sat in Gethsemane with Him; none of us have put our fingers into our Lord’s wounds. But Abraham saw the Lord, and He “He rejoiced to see the Lord’s Day, and he saw it and was glad.” Do we not see the Lord in the same way Abraham did? And what’s more, do we not see Him the same way Simeon saw Him? Do we not receive Jesus as our Consolation? Do we not hold Him in our mouths in the Holy Supper just as Simeon held the Christ in his arms? What good is the idea that Jesus might be here—or the sense that we feel His presence—if He is not really and truly among us? And so the Holy Spirit helps us to recognize Jesus as He comes to us. We behold Him as Immanuel: God with us in the preaching of His Word; God with us in the washing of rebirth in Holy Baptism; God with us in His body and blood.

Christ is among you! And not because we said, “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest.” Christ is in our midst because He said to you, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And when you come to Christ—that is, when He draw you into Himself—then “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

So let us rejoice and be glad, for with the disciples, we see the Lord. And because of them—because of their ministry, their eyewitness testimony, their prayers—we are now in that little while when we see Him with the eyes of faith. So do not be down-hearted or distressed. Christ is among you! He is now and will be forever! ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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