Sermon for Easter 7 – 5.21.23

+ 7th Sunday of Easter – May 21st, 2023 +

Series A: Acts 1:12-26; 1 Peter 4:12-19, 5:6-11; John 17:1-11

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“Suffering and Glory”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

When I’m out riding my bike I can’t avoid all the hills around Milton, but I usually go around the big one on 28th St. When my mom would drive our stick-shift truck around NE Portland, there were certain hills she would avoid on the drive home. Whether it’s the DMV or the dentist, we all have times where we’d rather avoid the suffering.

 

No wonder Peter’s words in the epistle reading this morning sound strange to us. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 

 

Peter’s first letter is addressed to scattered Christians, “exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithinia.” We don’t know where they began but they were suddenly scattered all over Asia Minor, presumably by persecution. They were forced to leave their homes, livelihoods, and families. Even exile wasn’t safe. They were easy targets, the outsiders, those “Christians.” They literally had bulls-eyes on their backs.

 

Although our time and place in history is different, we are also exiles in this fallen world. We find ourselves living in a day and age where our world, country, and state are increasingly hostile to Christians and the Christian faith. We lament this kind of suffering. We long for it to end. We cry out, Lord, have mercy.

 

These are all good things to do. Just don’t be surprised. For us who believe in Christ it is not if, but when, we will suffer for his name, sometimes in big ways, sometimes in smaller, subtle ways. But it will happen. It’s unavoidable, inevitable. Rather than avoid suffering because of your faith in Christ, Peter says…

 

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 

 

Rejoice in suffering? God’s glory is revealed when I suffer for believing in Christ? Are you sure about that Peter? Yes, he is. Peter knows that the way of the Christian is the way of Christ, the way his cross. Jesus’ cross was both the greatest suffering and the greatest glory. We rejoice that through Jesus’ suffering he brings many sons to glory. We rejoice knowing that all our sufferings, especially the suffering for confessing his name, have been endured by Jesus on the cross.

 

Peter goes on, If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed. That doesn’t sound like a blessing. But it is. When someone insults you, mocks, or ridicules you because of the name of Christ, it’s like those backhanded compliments. “Yes, I am a Christian. I believe in Christ crucified for me and you. I believe he rose again from the dead for me and for you.”

 

With the Spirit of glory and God’s grace resting upon you there is nothing the devil or the fallen world can say that can remove Jesus’ death and resurrection from you. There’s no insult or injury or persecution that can remove you from his crucified and risen hands.

 

Peter is teaching us what Luther called the theology of the cross. That God reveals his glory for us in the most unexpected way, in Jesus’ suffering for you. Jesus came as the “Man of Sorrows, acquainted with suffering.” His suffering was our suffering. Indeed, no man has ever suffered to the degree Jesus suffered. We suffer for ourselves. He suffers for us. We suffer for our own sins. He suffers for the sins of the world. We suffer as one man, one woman. He suffers for humanity, Everyman, all of humanity as one suffering Man. His suffering was the great necessity of His mission – it was the will of God, it was prophesied in the Scripture, it was necessary the Christ must suffer and enter into His glory. The way to the right hand of the Father was the way of the cross, of death, of the tomb, of suffering.

 

That’s why when you are baptized, you are marked with sign of the cross. Your baptism joins you to Christ’s death and resurrection, cleanses, and saves you. Holy Baptism does something else to you too, though. It puts you squarely in the crosshairs of the devil, the world, and your sinful flesh.

 

Peter is preparing his hearers for suffering, not the general kind of suffering that humanity experiences because we live in a fallen world and or because of our own sinfulness. Peter is speaking of suffering for the faith. Suffering for being a Christian. He was preparing his hearers for the loss of home and livelihoods and land. Arrest. Imprisonment. Torture. Even death.

 

I don’t know about you, but I find myself more and more wondering if we will see similar fiery trials in our own country. If not us, will our children and grandchildren? The tide certainly seems to be turning that way. Storm clouds are on the horizon. Will the insults, mockery, and discrimination we see today turn more violent tomorrow? Will we face arrest, imprisonment, torture, or death for confessing the name of Christ? I don’t know. I pray we won’t. But whatever may come, we pray, Lord, keep us steadfast in your word.

 

We pray because when faced with persecution temptations come in many forms. We’re tempted to avoid suffering for our faith in Christ. To give up the faith. Another temptation is to grow complacent, to let your faith and love in Christ grow cold, to let the worries and fears of this world choke away your faith like weeds. There’s also the temptation to go with the flow, change the church and teachings and worship to appeal to the culture. Jesus warned of the seed that falls on shallow soil, the Word that is heard in a shallow, emotional way, where initial joy and enthusiasm wilts under the noonday heat of persecution. Superficial Christianity cannot survive.

 

Peter reminds us that the devil is still a prowling lion, looking for someone to devour, literally to drink down your life. Peter says, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” Not “your faith” like some translations say. “The Faith” as in the faith once delivered to the saints. The objective and certain confession of our trust in Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior. The Faith as in the creed we confess.

 

The devil would use times of testing as times of temptation to cause you to doubt and fear and waver and wonder if God is really in charge or even if God actually exists. He will cause you to doubt God’s verdict in Christ, that you stand justified before Him on account of Jesus’ righteousness. He will cause you to doubt your Baptism, that it saves you through Jesus’ death and resurrection. He will tempt you to look inward instead of outward, to look to self instead of Christ, to fix your eyes on what you do instead of what Christ has done.

 

When suffering for our faith in Christ comes our way, it’s like that old camp song about the bear hunt. We can’t go around it, over it, or under it; we can only go through it.

 

Peter is quick to remind us, however, that you do not suffer for your faith in Christ alone. The same sufferings are being endured by the brotherhood of Christians around the world. Not only that, you have Christ Jesus upon whom we cast all our anxieties, fears, worries, doubts, failures, and sins because he cares for you. He suffered for you. Stand firm in the faith. Resist the devil. How? You’re doing it right now. You’re in the place where Jesus promises to be present with you and for you. You hear his word, receive his body and blood where he is present with you, where he forgives you, and where he strengthens you for suffering in his name.

 

Whatever may come, we know this, Jesus is Lord, not Caesar, not presidents or politicians, not rulers and authorities, not the fallen world full of insults and persecutions, not even our sinful flesh. Jesus alone is Lord. Jesus is Lord over death. The Lord of the cross and crucifixion and suffering. The Lord of the empty tomb and resurrection and life. And in Jesus our Lord you are redeemed and rescued, baptized and blessed, yes, even when you suffer for his name.

 

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977