The Seventh Sunday of Easter 2016

Bible Text: John 15:26-16:4 | Preacher: Rev. Mark Buetow | Series: 2016

The Christian faith is an eyewitness faith. Jesus died on the cross. People saw it. Jesus rose from the grave. People saw Him alive after that for forty days before His ascension. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that if you didn’t believe that Jesus really died and rose, you could just ask the people who saw Him. But what about you? You didn’t see Jesus alive in the days after Easter. And you can’t ask the people that saw Him. So how do YOU know? Because they eyewitnesses that saw Him wrote it down. Matthew. Peter through Mark. Lots of disciples through Luke. John. Eyewitnesses. They saw Jesus. Saw Him dead. Saw Him alive. It really happened. And Jesus Himself says that they would be His witnesses. They would pass it down through the Scriptures and it would also be the Holy Spirit who was a witness. It’s not that different than going to a family reunion and hearing stories about your great-grandparents handed down to your grandparents and parents. You probably didn’t know them but you know the things they did because you’re heard all about it. That’s really what the Bible is: it’s the Family Album of Jesus, which you are given to see Him and His life, death and resurrection and ascension for you.

You see, the eyewitness part is wrapped up in the Word. Christ has ascended. We can’t see Him with our eyes. But He is here and present through His Word. The Spirit is an eyewitness. How? Well, you CAN see your pastor. He baptizes. He absolves. He preaches Christ crucified and risen. He gives the body and blood of Jesus for you to eat and drink. These are real gifts. You can see them. Because the risen and ascended Jesus gives them to us through His Word, we are witnesses too. Every time we see that water and word splashed upon someone at the font (and remember our own baptism, even if we don’t remember it directly), every time we hear our sins forgiven and Christ preached, and eat and drink His body and blood. When we see the church doing what it has done, receiving what it has receivied, believing what it has believed, since Jesus’ ascension, then we know that the eyewitness testimony of the Bible is true. Again, it’s like a family. At that big family reunion, we might hear something like, “Well if great-great-grandma never met great-great-grandpa, none of us would be here.” Just so, the church exists today because the church existed before us, because the church has always existed where Jesus is and His Word is preached. Get it? The fact that you are a part of a congregation of the body of Christ is itself a proof that Jesus died and rose.

Now, Jesus warned His disciples the haters would try to put them out of the synagogues. The devil will try to get you out of the church. When you are away from the church, you easily forget what Jesus has done for you. It’s easy to forget that He’s alive. It’s easy to forget you’re part of the family. That’s why Jesus tells us. So that we won’t stumble. So that we won’t be scandalized. He sends the Spirit to bring you to faith and He gives the Spirit to testify of Himself. It’s the preaching of Jesus that keeps you in the faith. It’s the Spirit’s work to constantly point you to Jesus. To point you to His cross. To deliver His forgiveness, life, and salvation. That’s what the Spirit is all about. He testifies, that is, He proclaims Jesus to you. The Jesus who is your Savior. The Jesus who rescues you from sin and death. The Jesus who was nailed to the tree of Calvary. The Jesus whose tomb was empty. The Jesus who ascended and was hidden to our eyes by a cloud. But the Jesus who is still right here in His church where His Word and gifts are. Here is the Spirit’s witness, dear children of God: Jesus died for you. He rose for you. His ascension is for you. He has washed you. He forgives you. He feeds you. He will be back for you. You can count on it. Because Jesus Himself died, rose, and sent the Spirit to tell you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.