"King Jesus' Saving Rule!" Mark 16:14-20

Series: Easter 2023

May 18, 2023
Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

Christ Jesus ascends not to get away from His creation, but to fill it with His Divine and Human Nature to save sinners. Sermon Text: Mark 16:14-20. Sermon Theme: "King Jesus' Saving Rule!" Preached for the Ascension of our Lord, 18-May-2023, at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Tell City, Indiana by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert.

Episode Notes

The Ascension of Our Lord                                             18-May-2023
Sermon Text: Mark 16:14-20
Sermon Theme: “King Jesus’ Saving Rule!” by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

I.N.R.I. “Alleluia! Christ is Risen!” Where is Jesus? We confess in the Apostles’ Creed: “He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.” What does this mean? Do we stand gazing up into the heavens waiting to see a sign from Jesus? Where is Jesus?
The holy preaching angels, appearing as two men in white albs, query, Act 1:11 ...., "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." Do we stand looking up for signs in the sun, moon, and stars telling us that Jesus is about to return visibly to judge the living and the dead? Is Jesus far away in heaven, waiting for us to get things right for Him down on earth before He returns? Waiting for us to build His kingdom? Maybe a third temple in Jerusalem, or to have everyone worship again on Saturday, and then He will return? Where is Jesus?
What does it mean when we confess: “He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.”
      In the Small Catechism we memorize what it all means, but do we think it through? Listen to what you confess: “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord. Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.” What does His ascension and enthronement mean? Focus you hearing: “ that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.” To be His own! To live - not someday- but now - under Him - in His Kingdom -here and now in this world! His Kingdom of grace - here in this world - He is really present as True God/True Man clothing me the sinner in His righteousness, innocence, and blessedness! He rules all history - not only as True God - He has done that from eternity - but now and forevermore as True Man - my beloved Brother - bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh - who can sympathize with me in all my weakness - for He has taken it all into His sinless flesh. He rules. He is present where He has promised to be found.
    Lift up your eyes tonight to behold, ‘King Jesus’ Saving Rule!”
  Listen to the historical accurate record that God The Holy Spirit records, (Mk 16:14). The last section of Mark’s gospel begins Saturday evening. The Sabbath ended the women head to the market to buy spices to finish honoring their dead Rabbi. Early Sunday morning they head to the tomb only to discover the massive stone catapulted away from its door. Entering the tomb, instead of a corpse - they find a church - a holy preaching angel, a young man in a white alb, calls them away from fear to faith for the Crucified Jesus is risen! He will meet the disciples in Galilee, as He had said to them before His passion. They leave the tomb to tell the His disciples obeying the preacher.
    Mark also records the crucified and risen Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene. She comes and tells His disciples - what do they do? The Holy Spirit records, “Mar 16:10-11 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. (11) And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.” Refusing to believe, they mourn and weep - all seems lost.  
      Again our crucified and physically risen Jesus appears to two other disciples on the road to Emmaus. They run back to Jerusalem and history records, Mar 16:13 And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.” That Easter evening Jesus appears to them as they sit at table eating the bread of sorrow convinced all was lost. He rebukes their unbelief and hardness of heart. These men refused to hear the Good News that Jesus Lives from the mouth of fellow followers of Jesus.
      How does Jesus rebuke them for their unbelief? John reports that He suddenly appears in His body not stopped by their locked doors. His first word to them: “Peace!” He rebukes them by showing them the scars in His living flesh - they are glad to see the Lord. Luke reports the same words of rebuke, “Peace be unto you!” Then to prove they weren’t seeing a ghost He eats with them some fish and honeycomb. He speaks His Word to them and opens their imagination to grasp Scriptures. Moses, the Prophets, the Psalms all testified that the Messiah would suffer, die, rise the third day, and be enthroned to rule the world with His everlasting Kingdom of grace.
      Do you believe? Believe Jesus lived a perfect life to cover your sinful life? Believe that Jesus suffered and died bearing the full just punishment for all of your sins? Believe that He physically rose from the dead forever freeing you from death and the devil? I fall short, thinking I have to hide my sins from Him, or I have to live a better life to please God the Father, or I have to take the right steps to be freed of Satan and earn my way into heaven. I have to cry out with, “Lord, I believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”  
    My Crucified, Risen, and Ascended Jesus - True God/ True Man - comes to rebuking my unbelief with His Word of absolution - “Peace! Your sins are forgiven! Receive the Holy Spirit!” Is this most certainly true? Listen! (Mk 16:15-16) He commands His apostles to bring word to me! “Go” - “preach the good news.” The Church obeys His command! His Word! His life! His crucifixion! His resurrection! His ascension! His rule! Is sealed to me! Made my own in holy baptism. It is the gift and working of the Triune God! “What benefits does Baptism give? It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.”
      The whole Gospel is contained in this living Word and Promise of King Jesus! “He who believes and is baptized SHALL be SAVED!” Sinners are rescued by God through His Son becoming one with us in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The stain glass windows in our sanctuary preach this to you - beginning with Jesus’ nativity, His baptism, His first sign blessing marriage with wine, His prayer for you in Gethsemane, His willing sacrifice on Calvary to save you, His resurrection to rescue from death and the devil, His sending the Holy Spirit to establish His Kingdom of Grace - the Church. We add nothing to our salvation! It is God the Father’s plan, gifted to us in the flesh and blood of His only begotten Son’s sacrifice, and sealed to us by God the Holy Spirit here in His Church!
      Believe! (Mk. 16:17-18) King Jesus protects His lambs and sheep. Baptism casts Satan from our hearts - he lost all claim to us. He loosens our tongues to speak peace to one another - to forgive. He gifted the apostles with the ability to speak in languages they hadn’t studied that all might hear. He protects us from Satan’s serpent like attacks. We aren’t to tempt King Jesus by snake handling, or by dabbling in pornography or other Satanic deceptions - still He preserves us. Our life is wrapped up in Christ Jesus our King! He knows by what death we will glorify Him as He cares for our bodies and lives - even in illness.
      Where is Jesus? (Mk 16:19-20) Are we back at the beginning - looking up into the sky for a disappearing Jesus? Where is the “Ascension/Enthronement” stain glass window in our sanctuary? Look up behind the cross - it is here. King Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega - the Author and Finisher of your faith. He rules here! He is present here at Emmanuel - the God/Man with us! He rebukes your unbelief here every Sunday speaking you forgiven through His called and sent Ambassador - a preacher clothed in a long white robe. He breathes forth the Holy Spirit to comfort you as His Word is read, preached, and prayed. He invites you to His feast - He is present at His table - Heaven and Earth are reunited in His flesh and blood. Living, forgiving, flesh and blood that He places upon your lips and pours into your body - that you might know that you are His and He is yours!
      Rejoice this day! King Jesus ascends with our human nature to seat us with Him at God’s right hand - forever reconciled to our True and only Father. Though here we suffer Satan’s attacks, the world’s hate, and our flesh’s fearful weakness - we are baptized into Christ! His Word cannot be broken - “He who believes and is baptized - shall be saved!” As Paul comments on this truth: Eph 2:4-7 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (5) even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (6) and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (7) that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”  
      Where is Jesus! He is here filling all things by His Word and gifts - baptism, absolution, preaching, sacrament, and even in the mutual conversation and consolation of the saints - as you comfort, admonish, an d console each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Stop cringing in fear - Jesus’ human nature isn’t locked up in heaven far away from you - He is here in His body - the Church.
        Live under King Jesus in His Kingdom clothed in His everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness - for He has given you life - His life - forever. Alleluia! Christ is Risen!” Amen.

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