The Second Sunday of Easter (A)
“Sons and Daughters of the King”
April 23, 2017
Sermon Text: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from our victorious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
It really says it all. He says it all in beautiful form and fashion… and this certainly by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in him.
I am referring to St. Peter and his words which make up our appointed Epistle text… perfect words for this, the Second Sunday of Easter… truly comforting words which we now have the joy of considering and taking to heart.
Indeed, one can hardly read this portion of Scripture and not sense that something truly magnificent and wonderful is going on here… that something truly precious and priceless is being held up for us and all the world to marvel at and give unceasing thanks.
The apostle begins by giving the highest of praise to God the Father, as do we… remembering… never forgetting… that it was our heavenly Father who so loved us… who so loved the world… that He sent His only begotten to effect the salvation of all mankind… yes, our salvation… yours and mine.
And He did this… the Father did this, as Peter says, “According to his great mercy.” (1 Peter 1:3) The question is, what kind of grasp and proper appreciation do you and I have on this, on His mercy, divine mercy… mercy to a degree and extent that we cannot begin to fathom without the help of the Holy Spirit?
We are talking about mercy, compassion and caring to which, of which, the likes of which there is nothing on earth with which to compare it.
Nothing comes close to it. Simply put, nothing comes close to the Father’s love for us.
Truth be told, if we want to gauge what once was the depth of our degradation and how bad, helpless and hopeless things were… and then measure the height that our heavenly Father has mercifully taken us through the merits of His Son and how good and grand things are now in Christ Jesus… all we need to do is focus on Law and Gospel because it is all right there for us… here for us… in God’s Word… where the Truth IS told!
If we do this, it literally takes our breath away as to what has been done for us… our sins blotted out… death destroyed and the devil defeated. There is nothing more to fear.
If we do this, looking to God’s Word again and again, we are told again and again that we have gone from being enemies of God to being children of our heavenly Father. We have gone from being slaves of Satan to being “sons and daughters of the King” as we just sang… our heavenly King, Christ Jesus.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4)
The apostle initially wrote this to encourage the then small band of believers who faced the temptations of the world as well as the persecution of the world all because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
As you know, nothing has changed for us and all believers today. The same temptations are there… for us to go after worldly treasures and pleasures that will most certainly perish… things that are defiled and fading. How meaningless and worthless all this is compared to what awaits us… that which God’s Word says is “kept in heaven for you.”
And we, too, are persecuted for our faith in Jesus… our life in Jesus and what that means in terms of what we do and do not do… how we live our lives day-in and day-out which, to the world is so ridiculous as well as being infuriating.
As St Peter consoled the faithful then, so he does now… all of us… reminding us that by God’s power, we “are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” How comforting is that! That as sons and daughters of the King, you and I are being guarded, always guarded and protected… kept perfectly safe through faith.
For in this faith, Satan cannot harms us… nothing can harm us as we move through time to the end of time when our salvation is complete… when the resurrection takes place, when Satan is finally bound and cast into the bottomless pit that is sealed for all eternity… when we are with the Lord in heaven and this forever and ever.
St. Peter rightly adds, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:5-7)
“Stay the course,” the Lord our God is saying to you and me, my friends. If need be, get back on course, the Christian course, by the power of the Holy Spirit working in you here in Christ’s Body, the Church… here, in Word and Sacrament. Indeed, listen and take to heart… take comfort in what our King says to us… He who is the Word incarnate… the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us… the Word made flesh that has saved us.
This past Holy Week, you will remember that we again had the blessed opportunity to consider the Passion of Christ, including the interesting and incredibly revealing dialog that took place between our Lord and Pontius Pilate.
Pilate is confused and frustrated… bewildered as to who Jesus is. And at one point he said to Him, “‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world– to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’” (John. 18:37)
And may that be exactly what we do and are constantly doing as “sons and daughters of the King”… listening oh-so attentively to our King. Turning our ears to Him… focusing only on Him and on the cross where amazingly was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (John 19:19)
Indeed, Jesus of Nazareth, King of us all! Now look how Peter ends this beautiful text… pointing us to Jesus… to our Savior, saying “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)
Rejoice… you, His sons and daughters! Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Son and Daughters of the King”
4/23/17 The Rev. Mark H. Hein
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL