Pastor Hopkins preached this sermon on the sixth Sunday of Easter, 5/17/2020. The service was broadcast live on Facebook at 9am, and is now available on the FLC youtube channel. To follow along from home, the bulletin is available as a PDF: Rogate Easter6 Bulletin
The text for the sermon was the day’s gospel lesson. To read the Bible texts for the sixth Sunday of Easter, click here.
He had come a great distance. Farther than most could imagine.
He had come with honor and glory and might. He had come to reign, to establish a new kingdom, one where there would be justice and peace and beauty forever.
And at the young age of 33, He boldly declared victory over the world.
That enormous declaration, that the world laid before him conquered, that seems a bit presumptuous now. Especially in light of the history that followed shortly after.
Within days of declaring victory, he was dead. Hours later, in mourning and bewilderment, His followers went their own ways trying to decide how best to move on.
It seems he had not overcome the world. He was dead, and he would not be getting back up again.
Persians, Babylonians, Syrians, and Indians – all fell before him. By the age of 33, Alexander the Great had conquered all one could conquer – all the known world. But as his body was placed in a golden sarcophagus, it was clear that one enemy remained in power.
The prince of this world, the devil, was in fact, still on his throne – still lying, still murdering, as he had been doing since Eden.
And so now this morning, in a world already full of cautionary tales, that would warn against declaring victory too early, Jesus’ words seem especially audacious.
I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart;
I have overcome the world. verses 32-33
Remember, Jesus speaks these words with His whole passion, with abandonment and scourging, and mocking and cross and grave still in front of Him.
Jesus goes knowingly into all of that proclaiming victory. He knows His disciples would be scattered; each to his own home. Each of them would leave Jesus alone. And each of them would, in turn, be alone.
Because, far too often, fear does not drive us to Jesus, but to ourselves. When days are dark, when we are losing our battles with the world, this is just what we do.
We go our own way. We worry and agonize. We self-medicate. We keep our pain bottled up.
We go our own ways – alone. Desperately seeking a foothold, some power, some advantage, anything to keep defeat at a distance. Anything to keep from being overcome by the world.
And when we try to win our battles that way, we leave Jesus alone. And not just in some subconscious way. It is a strategically calculated decision. Not born of malice or hate for Jesus, but of love and preservation of self.
Because we don’t see in Him a powerful leader like Alexander. One who reigns with power and strength, a ruler whom no one on earth would dare to mock or challenge.
To us, like to the world, he can appear to be a weak ruler. Powerless in the face of adversity. He cannot even save Himself. He’s a King who is crowned with thorns, and mocked by soldiers; who is abandoned by his own disciples: the twelve, and you, and me.
“I have overcome the world.” Some victory that seems to be…
Whatever else the disciples walked away thinking, it looks as though the world has overcome Jesus, and not the other way around.
The sky went dark in the middle of the day, and the Christ of God hung dead. His sad corpse was shut in a tomb. And all the disciples went away, alone. To sit in darkness and fear, imagining what could have been if Jesus had done things their way, and been a Great King, more like Alexander.
But then, already, Jesus’ victory was won. Satan had over-reached, gone too far. He bit off more than he could chew. Jesus defeated and disarmed death, not only in the resurrection, but in His death on the cross for you (Hebrews 2:14-15). Thus, Jesus can say fully and finally, “It is accomplished.”
It was accomplished and it is accomplished. As you have known and proclaimed this Eastertide, unlike Alexander and every other King that has lived and died, Christ is Risen!
From the tomb, Jesus rises Victorious. For your forgiveness. For your justification. For your peace.
And His victory is your victory. How? Jesus says today to His disciples, to you, that we have peace “in Him.”
Jesus says that your peace is found in a person. In Jesus Himself. As a beautiful morning prayer from one of our early hymnals reads:
I pray Thee, give me the assurance of this redemption through Thy Word, govern my heart with Thy Holy Spirit, preserve me with Thy divine love, and hide me this day, both soul and body, in Thy holy wounds.
In fear and anxiety, we have left Jesus alone. But He has not left us alone.
Christ has cemented Himself to you in Holy Baptism. You, Fiona, this very day, have been bound to Jesus’ death and resurrection. He speaks to you and us now in His Word, in Holy Absolution, and with His glorious Gospel. He addresses you specifically, along with little Isaac in Minnesota, and my kids at home, nossos amigos no Brasil, the whole Church, all of us together.
And He enters into you again this morning delivering His victorious Body and Blood into your mouth.
Life and Salvation: yours
The Kingdom: yours
Time and eternity: yours
For you, Jesus was born.
For you, Jesus died.
For you, Jesus was raised.
For you, Jesus lives.
For you, Jesus has overcome the world.
To Him be all the glory, now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.