Sermon – April 26, 2020 – Easter 3

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David R. Clark  ~  1 Peter 1:17-21  ~  May 26, 2020  ~  Easter 3


17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.


Brothers and sisters in our living hope,

I know it wasn’t our usual Easter celebration a couple of weeks ago, but it was still stirring, wasn’t it? It was great to hear music and sing. The readings and the sermon were joyous. Even if the celebration was not as big outwardly, Easter was in our hearts, the place it matters most. We were lifted up by Easter joy!

But that was two weeks ago. Do you see how hard Satan is working to take that joy away with cancellations and physical distancing? This is nothing new.  Every year he tries to make us think that Easter is important only when we die.

So how do we show that Easter is more than an eternal life policy? How do we keep the joy? The believers of Peter’s time didn’t know what COVID19 was, but they still had struggles. Peter’s encouragement to them is still very good for you and me today.


  1. By showing what is perishable.

People have to make decisions/judgments every day. People raise their children the way they were raised. They treat their spouse the way they saw their Mom and Dad treat each other. Success is usually how well they measure up or improve on that standard.

People also make decisions/judgments about their personal lives. Their attitudes and morals are shaped from those same traditional places or from our society. That is powerful.

But as popular as such decisions/judgments are, they can’t be ours. Why? A resurrected Jesus. Easter changes the very fabric of our lives. It makes what the world says, what is traditional, what is popular, not what is most important to us.

This is how Peter says it: (17-18) Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,

Those traditional measurements are a problem. As common as they may be, God doesn’t judge you based on what your parents did or said. He judges you impartially according to his standards. Living according to those former standards he calls an empty way of life. They are no better than taking an opinion poll with all the people of Glendale asking them how someone gets to heaven. It doesn’t matter what the poll says. It’s worthless.

Peter wants Christians to see that all of these kinds of things are perishable. In other words, they don’t last. If you go into a grocery store and buy something that is perishable, you know it won’t last. They have to be refrigerated or they have a date on them because they don’t last. The world’s way of looking at life is perishable.

But how do we show such things are perishable? We live as if these things are not as important as everyone else does. That will make us stick out.  Peter says it means living here like we are “foreigners.”

Think what a foreigner is:  they speak a different language and don’t quite fit in. For us that means we are not led by fear and dread. We don’t look at the government as the solution or the enemy.  We are not led by rights, but by love. We don’t take people’s words and actions in the harshest possible way.

We recognize that we have a judge who will judge us on whether our lives show what is perishable in reverent fear.


  1. By showing what is precious.

 If this was easy we wouldn’t need this encouragement. (19-21) [For you know that that you were redeemed] with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Peter pointed his Jewish believers to a sacred symbol of God’s love. They knew a lamb without blemish or defect was a symbol of delivery from slavery. The blood of the Passover lamb was painted on the doorframes to keep the Angel of Death away. But Peter wasn’t pointing them to Passover. He told them that the lamb is Jesus Christ.

 Jesus, a man without any sin whatsoever, shed his blood not on a doorframe, but on a cross. His resurrection proved that our slavery to sin and its result, death, had been overcome. That makes his blood the most precious commodity in the world.

Rejoicing in resurrection hope means showing how precious that blood is. We live knowing the resurrection is a factual event that happened in the past that keeps our focus on the future when we shall live even after we die, just as Jesus did.

But that guides us every single day until we die or He comes again.  It makes every single day a day of rejoicing, another day of Easter hope. Every day is a day to recognize that what the world considers normal or precious, their silver and gold, is not the most precious elements in our lives.

It’s ironic that one thing this virus has done is forced us to see the difference between what we like and what is crucial. It has forced us to see what is necessary and what is unnecessary. Jesus’ resurrection has been doing that for 2000 years.

Easter may be gone for another year but our joy is not. Keep Easter in your hearts and in your lives so you continue to REJOICE IN OUR RESURRECTION HOPE.  Amen.

Sermon – April 19, 2020 – Easter 2

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Vicar Lindemann  ~  John 20:24-31  ~  April 19, 2020  ~  Easter 2

Can You Believe It?

24Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


He had them all the way out to the car with their backpacks on before he told them. They certainly doubted him at first, but it was such good news that they believed it. But then came the words they were dreading, “April Fools.” Did you see these videos of the cruel pranks on unsuspecting children? The parents told them on the morning of April 1, “They decided to start school again starting this morning!” and for once, kids were happy to go to school. But they were played for fools, because the “stay at home” order was still in effect, and the schools were still closed.

I think it’s up for debate which side of this is the bigger fool, because that is a cruel prank to play as a parent. But, wasn’t it also foolish for the teenagers and grade schoolers to believe it? All of a sudden one day when they wake up, they believed such good news about life returning to normal? Can you believe it? No, don’t be foolish. Maybe one of them should have said, “Unless I see my teacher, feel my old desk with my hand and reach up my other hand to answer a question, I will not believe it.”

The Apostle Thomas felt like he was watching a cruel April Fool’s joke. He got such good news that he couldn’t believe it. That good news was the news about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. If he believed the good news and it was false, he would be kicking himself for falling for something that’s too good to be true. If he believed the good news and it was true, all of a sudden life is better than back to normal.

That good news for Thomas is the same good news that is for you. Can you believe it? Jesus removes doubt so that your faith is firm.

1. Jesus removes doubt,

On that first Easter Sunday, the disciples’ heads were spinning. Their whole world came crashing down when Jesus was crucified, but three things remained the same:  They still loved Jesus, they had an unclear hope that God would still take care of them, and they gathered together to encourage each other.

That’s what Christians have always done, and that’s what they still do. In the face of your world crashing down, you still love Jesus, you still know that God will take care of you, and you long to gather together with other Christians! For now, you have realized that the best way to show love for your neighbor is to refrain from gathering, but you still encourage and are encouraged by God’s Word. On that first Easter Sunday, that’s what the disciples were doing, behind closed doors, feeling alone. But the disciples heard reports and saw for themselves that the tomb was empty and that Jesus is risen! It was such good news that they didn’t know if they could believe it. But to remove all doubt, Jesus came and stood among them, gave them his peace and showed them his hands and side. The disciples were thrilled; Jesus was risen!

But Thomas wasn’t there. Thomas was an Apostle who had been selected by Jesus, who knew Jesus, and who was with Jesus days before in the Garden of Gethsemane when he was arrested and handed over to death. Thomas still loved Jesus, he still had a faint hope that God would take care of him. He knew the tomb was empty, he heard the reports – both from the women and from all of the disciples telling him they had seen the Lord – but he also knew that Jesus had died on the cross, and he knew that dead people don’t rise from the dead. Can you believe it, Thomas? No, unless I see him, unless I touch the marks where I saw them nail his hands, I can’t believe it. What a bold demand, he has so much doubt that he says he won’t even believe his eyes, he’ll have to touch him. Thomas thought that the disciples were fools for believing such unbelievable news.

After a week of telling Thomas that Jesus rose, and a week of Thomas’ doubt, Thomas kept meeting together with them. And Jesus removed the doubt from Thomas’ heart. Jesus appeared again to the disciples, past the locked doors, specifically to reveal himself to Thomas. How does he confront doubting Thomas? With a scolding lecture? No, he comes with a message of peace. He even fulfills Thomas’ bold demands, “See the hole where the nails went Friday before last? Put your finger on it. Put your hand into my side where the soldiers stabbed me when I was dead.” Jesus removed his doubt, and Thomas didn’t take Jesus up on his offer to touch his marks, but rather confessed his faith, “My Lord and my God!”

Maybe Jesus acted puzzled. “I thought you said you wouldn’t believe your eyes, but that you’d have to touch me. So now that you have seen me, you believe?” It turns out the problem was not in the lack of proof, the problem was that Thomas doubted it. But Jesus did not allow that doubt to overtake Thomas. He removed Thomas’ doubt in this special way, because Jesus wanted Thomas to believe in him. Jesus creates faith that he did rise from the dead and he strengthens faith.

Before we assume that the nickname “Doubting Thomas” says everything we need to know about him, let’s think about that for a second. Could you have believed it? Doesn’t it seem too good to be true? Of all the things to rely on, you could do a lot worse than believing what you see. Thomas didn’t see, so he doubted. Thomas isn’t the only one who didn’t see. In fact there were a maximum of about 600 people who have ever seen the risen Jesus, out of the thousands who lived in Jerusalem and the billions who have lived since then. How many of them have believed? And a far more important question: Can you believe it? Can you believe that the Son of God became a man to carry your sins, take your punishment, die, and rise from the dead? And that it counts for you without you having to do anything in exchange? Can you really believe that? Or does doubt creep into your mind? Can God become a man? Could Jesus have been really thinking of me when he came? Can a man rise from the dead? If only I could see him I’d believe everything! Doubt falls on us unexpectedly. The devil and your sinful nature want you to rely on what your eyes can see and what your reason can understand.

But Jesus reveals himself to you. He doesn’t appear bodily to you, like you might boldly demand just as Thomas did. But he takes care of the real problem. He removes the doubt. He does this with his Word and he has given you his messengers to tell you this good news. I’m telling you for sure that Jesus has risen from the dead. God’s Word promises you that the penalty for your sins has been paid. And you can believe this, not because I’m such a persuasive speaker, but because Jesus reveals himself to you and strengthens your faith to believe him. You can believe he really did it for you, because you have been baptized into his name. Jesus revealed himself to you in baptism, when he came into your heart through water and the word.

Jesus didn’t call it a blessing for Thomas to see him with his eyes. But did you hear what he does call a blessing? “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” You! Jesus calls you blessed. He calls you blessed because he removes your doubt by giving you his Word and Sacrament. Jesus has revealed himself to you through those means of grace. Treasure and celebrate the means of grace, live in your baptismal grace all the days of your life, which continually remove doubt to believe in him. Christians aren’t like those poor kids who fell for a bad April Fool’s joke. When Jesus removes doubt, the Christian’s faith is firm. Your faith is firm. Jesus has provide you with his rock solid word, so that you are sure of your faith.

2. So that your faith is firm.

 At the end of the account of Doubting Thomas, the Apostle John gives his take on the story. Apparently, John could have gone on to tell many other stories about how Jesus appeared to his disciples. Maybe he stopped because there were too many miracles to tell, or maybe he stopped because he just needed to finish writing his book. John didn’t need to write anymore, because of what the purpose of the Bible is. If the purpose of the Bible were history, John should have given us as complete a history as he could. If the purpose of the Bible were curiosity, John should have picked at least one of the most interesting miracles that he had left and wrote it! If the purpose of the Bible were not complete, then he should have kept writing to fill us in on what was left.

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. John has no hidden agenda. He clearly lays out his purpose. The purpose of the Bible is to give faith. These words are written, these books have been preserved, this message is spread to give faith. There are many who haven’t seen, and God doesn’t reveal himself bodily, but the people in his Holy Christian Church still have faith. Their faith relies, not on what their eyes can see, but what their Jesus has taught them through his Word – that he has indeed been raised from the dead. And that by believing you may have life in his name. Faith in Jesus’ promises to give life. That’s the ultimate purpose of the Bible. That’s the goal of faith – eternal life. Jesus is the one whom faith believes. Jesus promises that the one who believes, the one who has faith, will win the victory over death.

You can also be sure. Like John had his purpose for writing, you have the same purpose for studying God’s Word. There’s a reason we have this church, and there’s a reason we’ve gone to such great lengths to keep serving you with the Word during these times when it seems like the world has come crashing down. There’s a reason you’re constantly encouraged to stay in the Word, a reason you set time out of your week for this. The reason is that these are the very words upon which your faith is built. These words are no joke. These are the words that God has given, that his disciples spread, for which the faithful have died, and that Christians have treasured since they were first spoken. Your faith is firm when it relies on the trustworthy Word of God, which shows that Christ is risen.

So God’s Word, through faith, gives you life. John lays it out as simply as that for you. You have eyes of faith that see Jesus and believe in what he’s done for you. Through this simple faith, God promises that you too will rise from the dead. Jesus has won that for you by his resurrection from the dead, which you learned from God’s Word.

Can you believe it? Jesus removes doubt by his resurrection and has worked faith in you. God’s Word is reliable and has made your faith firm. Through faith, you can believe it. God’s Word works. So we can confess the faith about which John wrote, “I believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God,” and God’s promise to you is that by believing, you may have life in his name. Amen.

Sermon – April 12, 2020 – Easter

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Pastor Mark R. Jacobson  ~  Revelation 19:11-16  ~  April 12, 2020  ~  Easter Sermon


11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 

The Race TrackVictory!

The painting I have on my left is entitled “The Race Track.” Albert Ryder is the artist and this work hangs in Cleveland’s Museum of Art today. Its subtitle reads, “Death on a Pale Horse.” The horseman is alone on the track and is wielding a huge scythe. On the ground alongside the track is a big snake. Notice as you look at the picture the rider is going clockwise—the wrong way. The rider is going in the “wrong” direction so he can pick off as many people as he can. We know he will get everyone. That pale rider, Death, is coming after me. He’s got your friends and family in his sights. He’s going to catch you, too. He always wins or so it would seem to us in this world. The picture we have from the last book of the Bible is much different. The vision given to the Apostle John on the Island of Patmos was not “Death on a Pale Horse, but “VICTORY on a White Horse!”

  1. Our hero is not dead, but alive, having defeated death.

Look again at what the Apostle John says, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.”

America has had its share of famous generals. Many of them are best known by their nicknames. Do you know the real names of these American generals? Old Blood and Guts, Stonewall, The Bear, Ike? (Answers: George Patton, Thomas Jackson, Norman Schwarzkopf, Dwight Eisenhower) Here’s the name of another famous general:  Faithful and True. His real name is Jesus Christ. Though we might not often picture Jesus Christ as a general, this is how he pictures himself in Revelation 19.

What a glorious picture of Jesus Christ! He is no longer pictured as a captive humiliated by soldiers. He is no longer beaten and whipped. His head is not bowed. Jesus had certainly died. As a matter of fact, after he was already dead, the professional killers stabbed him in the side to make sure he was dead. His body was then placed in a grave, sealed tight and guarded. The blood Jesus shed cleanses us from sin and not just our sins, but the sins of all the world. The victory over sin was made clear when Jesus shouted, “It is finished!”

Yet one more foe must be conquered:  Death! That’s what today, this Easter Day, is all about! Victory! The mighty rider on the white horse is a victorious rider. The body of Jesus Christ is not in a grave. The empty tomb made the women and the Apostles wonder what had happened. The resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ leaves no doubt. The Bible lists over a dozen different appearances of the risen Jesus, including one time when there were five hundred people present. Most of the gospel accounts, including St. Paul’s account of the resurrection, were written during the lifetime of thousands of people who were alive at the time of the first Easter. Many people knew about Jesus’ resurrection from personal experience. They saw the resurrected Jesus themselves, or they heard about the resurrection directly from people who had seen Jesus. Jesus defeated death. 

How important that is to all of us! Our country has recently spent trillions of dollars in an effort to defeat one virus. We spend trillions more to try to treat cancer, heart disease, and other health threats to life. Humanity does its best to push death away and the best we can do is a few more years or a few more decades. No one gets 100 more years. No one lives forever. Humanity can’t defeat death. There is no cure but one!

The empty tomb and the resurrection appearances of Jesus prove his words about death are true: Jesus once said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25). The one who believes in Jesus is you and me. We believe in Jesus. We will rise because the one who has conquered death said so. St. Paul tells us: “In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:52,53). Our hero is not dead, but alive, having defeated death, and now we see in the vision given to St John …

  1. Our living hero has all authority on the Day of Judgment.

Our lesson continues, “His eyes are like a blazing fire.” Mothers may have eyes in the back of their heads. Police write up detailed incident reports just in case they will need to appear in court. Jesus, his eyes like a blazing fire, sees everything. No one can hide from Jesus. Jesus is all-knowing. No one can run from Jesus either. Jesus is all-powerful. “On his head are many crowns.” The crowns on his head are not only from the world leaders who have willingly submitted to his authority, but also the crowns he has taken from those who have rejected him. On the Day of Judgment those who have rejected Jesus will feel his name. “…his name is the Word of God … Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” His robe dipped in blood is not his own blood shed on the cross, but the blood of his enemies who refused to live according to the Word of God. He will crush them like grapes. “He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.”  

If you ever had the idea that Jesus was too soft on sinners or too forgiving of his foes, think again. His eyes, his crowns, his robe, his sword, ultimately his name – the Word of God – will terrify impenitent sinners. This image of Jesus as a conquering general also gets us thinking about whether or not we are faithful and true. Are you a faithful and true disciple of Jesus – hanging on his every word? Are you a faithful and true parent – raising your child in the fear of the Lord? A faithful and true spouse – reflecting God’s love to your husband or wife? A faithful and true child – obedient to authority? A faithful and true friend and neighbor – loving your neighbor as yourself? A faithful and true employee or student – knowing God is watching you? Jesus did say, “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them…the very words I have spoken will condemn them on the last day” (John 12). 

The last day will be scary to some but not to us who believe in Jesus. True to his Word and faithful to his Father, Jesus took the place of sinners under the law and lived as our perfect substitute. He went to the cross and paid the full debt we owed God because of our unfaithfulness. True to his Word and faithful to his Father, Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears and believes in him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).     

  1. Those with the rider are safe forever. Alleluia!

Our last section of Revelation reads, “The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean….On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” “The armies of heaven” are the holy angels. These angels have always served Jesus as faithful and true soldiers. They served as God’s messengers and protectors of God’s holy people. On the Last Day the angels will be spectators as their King conquers all of his enemies and establishes his new kingdom. We know Jesus is the King, and we know Jesus is the Lord, but who are the “of kings” and who are the “of lords”? We are!

It might be tempting to see the “of kings” and “of lords” as the defeated kings of this earth. Jesus is their King and Lord, too, but the Bible says, “If we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:12). In heaven we will reign! No longer will sickness and death rule over us! We are safe forever. Alleluia! Even more, in heaven we will be in total control of our lives. No longer will we have to fight to take people’s words and actions in the kindest possible way. No longer will we concern ourselves with what others think of us or even of what we think of ourselves. In heaven our conscience will never again wrestle with right and wrong. We will be like the King! We have noble thoughts and pure motives. We will also have loving words and kind actions. Never again will hurtful words slip and fall out of our mouths. Never again will songs of praise be left unsung. “And when we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.”  Amen.

Sermon – April 10, 2020 – Good Friday

Printable PDF:  4-10-2020 Good Friday Sermon

Vicar Lindemann  ~  Matthew 27:45-50  ~  April 10, 2020  ~  Good Friday

The Greatest Battle Ever Fought

45From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 47When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At 11:30 on that day, the sun was out like it is now. But right at noon, when the sun is brightest, it turned dark. No sun, no, moon, no stars, just darkness. Everything came to a stop. It was no eclipse, there was nothing natural about this. The darkness came because of a crucifixion—an ugly way to put people to death. It could sometimes take a couple days to die, depending upon how badly the person had been whipped. The executed criminal’s lungs worked slower and slower until he suffocated as his breathing became shallower and shallower.

Jesus was with two others on their crosses outside of Jerusalem. Thousands of people had followed him, listening intently to him and singing his praises. Less than a week before, a crowd had called him Savior. A few hours before this moment, he had acknowledged that he was the King of the kingdom of truth. He was God’s special soldier. But now the Warrior was dying.

This was the final battle. He had come into this world and had worked every day of his life to prepare for this. The prophets had foretold how horrible the battle would be. Your future, my future, and the future of everyone who has ever lived was hanging on the outcome of this battle:

The Greatest Battle Ever Fought

There were other battles fought in the history of our world. Battles, cultures, countries, leaders, and forms of government all have influence on history. But they come and go. Except for Jesus and this battle. The life of Jesus is the most significant single life in all of history. And what happened on the cross at his death changed the entire world and everyone who has ever lived.

  1. His enemy Satan attacked Jesus relentlessly.

The physical agony that Jesus suffered was awful. He had already been distressed the night before in Gethsemane. He had no sleep between Thursday and Friday because of the trials. Then came the special punishment:  The crown of thorns, the constant mocking, the pulling out of his beard, the blows to his face, the humiliation of having his clothing stripped off, the cruel scourging that ripped his skin from bone. He was forced to carry that heavy crossbeam until he collapsed. Only after all that did they lay him down on the cross and drive long nails through his hands and feet and hoist the cross up to be put on display as the soldiers and the Jewish leaders mocked him. How can anyone do such things to another human being? That’s your Savior they are torturing! It’s even horrible to speak of it.

But Jesus withstands that pain and agony without complaint! As a matter of fact, you hear him speak some amazing words on the cross: First, he offered a prayer asking the Father to forgive all those who crucified and mocked him. Then he answered the desperate prayer of the thief who believed in him with a tremendous gospel promise of heaven that very day. And calmly and with a tender concern for his mother, he told John to care for her.

But there was darkness. And we begin to realize that all his physical suffering was perhaps like a bug bite compared to the spiritual suffering that is happening on the cross. The darkness shows us how much God hates sin, that terrible thing that always separates us from him. The darkness is God’s reaction to the murder of his Son, and God’s judgment upon that which his Son was carrying.

We may be grateful, in a way, for the darkness. It must have made the ones responsible think twice. But it also covered up what no eyes should ever have to see as Jesus was on that cross, alone, against all the forces of hell. Satan hates Jesus. And this is the moment when he now saw the Son of Man and Son of God at his weakest—where he might be vulnerable. Satan attacks with everything to force Jesus to give up his life’s work of paying for your guilt and mine and for atoning for the whole world’s sin.

The devil attacks Jesus with all his might. Perhaps he told Jesus lies, “You won’t make any difference. This won’t cover the whole world’s guilt and sin, Jesus.” Perhaps he pointed out to Jesus some truths, “Why care about these people? These people have pierced your hands and feet and stare and gloat over you. Everyone has turned on you. Even Judas and Peter did it. Your thousands of followers have all turned on you.”

The spiritual pain mounts higher and higher. So much darkness – and this is what my sins deserve. Why should Jesus be suffering for your sins? The weight of the sins of billions upon billions of people are pressing down—all the massacres and crimes in the world, all the horrible things you and I have ever said, thought, and done. Jesus is fighting it and Satan in this great darkness, alone. And he remains pure, holy, and faithful. He does it because he loves you. Still holding his ground. This is why Jesus is both God and man! Man to be our substitute; God to pay for all the sins of humanity.

Not only the physical agony, not only the spiritual suffering against the devil, but now the worst part:  The Father’s white-hot anger is burning against him. Think of the power he had—the Creator of the universe who crushed that world with a gigantic flood, who smashed Sodom and Gomorrah, who made the mountain tremble and shake for Moses—that’s who is directing his full anger and fury against Jesus.

You can hear it in Jesus’ voice as his tone changes and he fulfills the words of Psalm 22. An awful and loud cry came from those tortured lungs. Perhaps it’s a scream: ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’)

We know our triune God is one God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So I can’t get my head around the fact that the Son is now forsaken. The Father, source of all love, turns his back on Jesus his beloved Son, clearly declared at his baptism and on the transfiguration mountain, “My Son whom I love.” The Father suspends his relationship with his Son so that the warrior Son could pay for this entire world’s sin. It must have torn at the Father’s heart. His wrath is focused on the evil that Jesus was carrying because he so hates infection of sin that is causing the human race to die. At the beginning of this suffering, Jesus called him “Father.” You can see the intimacy, the closeness. Now it is “My God, my God” as he loudly asks that why. Jesus is forsaken, so he does not call him Father.

While the relationship is broken, his faith is still strong, even as he is left alone. This is the moment of sheer horror for our Warrior. It’s the worst moment of his life, and his lonely suffering has reached its peak on that cross. It is here that the battle is either going to be won or lost as Jesus suffers for us.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah explains what is happening: “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).

All this is because of us. Jesus remained perfect and holy in himself this entire time. Yet our sin was charged to him and he was willingly paying for it. We are not always aware of how much we sin. We are usually aware of our atrocious sins and we have some sin, but sometimes we think that we will just work harder on those bad habits, and we will be okay. Our problem is far bigger than one or two habits. Every inclination of your self-serving and self-centered heart is complete sin. We cannot work hard enough to cover even one sin, let alone a lifetime of them. We need a Warrior who is able to purchase forgiveness for each sin for us all! Jesus poured out his sweat and blood to forgive you!

  1. When the dust had settled, came the victory cry

Once the mockers get used to the darkness, they start in again, thinking Jesus’ cry “My God, my God, (Eli, Eli)” was begging Elijah to come back: “When some of those standing there heard this, they said, ‘He’s calling Elijah.’ Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him’” (Matthew 27:47-49).  But the end is near. They wait but not for very long. Things happen quickly now. The rest of the Gospel writers fill us in. “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished’” (John 19:30). Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last (Luke 23:46).

Matthew tells us that the temple curtain was “torn in two from top to bottom.” Maybe God’s way of saying “Amen” to Jesus’ words “It is finished.” That means that there is no more need for sacrificing. No more sheep, goats, or bulls need to be killed. There was no more need for priests or high priests. All the laws were fulfilled. Every prophecy in the Old Testament about the coming Savior has been fully kept. God has opened up access to himself for all people, nations, languages, cultures, and generations through the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. God accepted Jesus’ payment to cover all your sins.

Notice how we can tell that the sacrifice of Jesus is completed:  He says, “Father” again! God’s anger has been spent. The terrible separation between Father and Son no longer exists. That loud cry, “It is finished,” says everything. In this greatest battle of all time, Jesus’ saving fight is over! Jesus has crushed Satan’s head, as predicted in Eden. It’s a clear knockout blow. The devil is mortally wounded, still walking around, but he can no longer win. Our home in heaven is prepaid! There is nothing more you or I, or even God, has to do to pay for our guilt and sin!

We are forgiven! His work is done. He couldn’t be defeated. The soldiers, the mockers, hell, and Satan could not kill him. Now, of his own free will, he gives his soul into his Father’s loving hands. Our holy Jesus, who remained unspotted and unblemished as he experienced our hell, now offers his pure and perfect life as the final, once-and-for-all sacrifice. It is finished! Amen.

Sermon – April 9, 2020 – Maundy Thursday

Printable PDF:  4-9-2020 Maundy Thursday Sermon

David R. Clark  ~  Luke 22:47-48  ~  April 9, 2020  ~  Maundy Thursday


47While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

 Brothers and sisters in Christ,

In February when I first heard the report about a virus in China, I didn’t pay much attention. When cases were reported on the East Coast, I noticed it, but it was far away. When our schools were closed and everyone was urged to stay at home, it suddenly became personal. Thank God for the help we have from our medical personnel!

As Christians we are always aware of temptation in the world. It’s easy to look at what is happening in society morally and see the danger temptation holds. But when we start seeing what temptation does in our own lives, it’s different. Now it becomes personal and it is clear we need some help in that battle.

This evening we consider just how personal such a battle is waged.

  1. The struggle within Judas

It was right after Jesus and the disciples had their last meal together. They had gone out to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. When Jesus had finished praying, Jesus woke his disciples and “while he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’” (Luke 22:47,48).

Judas went up to Jesus and singled him out for the soldiers by dramatically kissing him (a traditional greeting that would have been on both sides of the face). But the soldiers and Jesus knew what it really meant:  He was using the display of friendship to betray and hand over our Savior to his enemies.

By that time, Judas’ personal battle had already been lost. This is what we know about the temptations Judas faced:

  • He had been helping himself to some of disciples’ money (John 12:6).
  • Satan had entered into him and pushed him to go to the chief priests to get paid for betraying Jesus—30 silver coins on the spot (Luke 22:3; Matthew 26:15).
  • Before the Supper: “As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly’” (John 13:27).
  • Jesus had warned that one of the disciples would betray him (John 13:10,11) and had said it was a fulfillment of the OT prophecy. Judas ignored the warning.

To me, the most surprising part is that when Jesus told the disciples that one of them was going to betray him, they didn’t all look directly at Judas. “His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant” (John 13:22). The battle against Satan was a personal one for Judas and for all of his disciples.

  1. The struggle within us.

Don’t we know how true that is? Maybe you know, but maybe you also wonder what kind of temptation Satan will use in your heart.” St. Paul said, “In my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:22-24).

There is a war here! We want to trust Jesus with all our hearts, but our faith is under attack. Our sinful flesh is weak. Maybe you get guilt flashbacks and you feel dirty and unworthy of Jesus. Could it be something going on right now? Are you living right now in disappointment? Perhaps depressing thoughts have been working against your faith causing you to lose your cheerful spirit to serve and give? Have you been getting spiritually lazy? And what about your prayer life? Do you see the temptation within?

  1. Our hero loves us every day of our lives!

We have a warrior who can help us fight these battles and sneak attacks! St. Paul rejoiced: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).

There is a stronger hand than ours on our hearts closing the gate against Satan’s war within us. Jesus is the defense against our sinful flesh and Satan’s battle for us. How? Our betrayed Jesus never betrayed us! When Jesus voluntarily gave up his life on the cross, God cleared you of every charge. The only thing that God sees in you is the holy, perfect life of Jesus! He has made that freely available for everyone.

Jesus is the starting point in our personal battle against temptation. He has given us some wonderful weapons to help us grow stronger in faith, to become more like him, to brighten our vision of our final home in heaven, to give us a bolder life, to enlarge the daily joy we already have in him! There are two weapons in particular for our personal struggle against Satan and sin:

The first is his powerful Word with all those promises. God’s Word makes our faith stronger, and it even alerts us to the temptations of Satan! It’s both our armor and our offensive weapon (Ephesians 6).

Second, that special meal, the Lord’s Supper. Although we cannot celebrate it tonight, our warrior provides each of us personally with his true body and blood. Whenever I feel like I’m slipping, this meal points me back to Jesus. He gives me the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation that he has battled to win for me. My battle against Satan is personal, but so is this Supper:  My Warrior’s flesh and blood with the bread and wine to strengthen me.

The battle is personal for all of us. Our Savior’s help is just as personal. Walk with him, rely on him, and you will have all the help you will ever need. Amen.

Sermon – April 5, 2020 – Palm Sunday

Printable PDF:  4-5-2020 Palm Sunday Sermon

David R. Clark  ~  Matthew 21:1-9  ~  April 5, 2020  ~  Palm Sunday

A Case of Mistaken Identity?

1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” 4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5“Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”


Dear friends in Christ,

          Have you ever been out and recognized someone only to find out it wasn’t that person at all? Have you ever met someone famous and didn’t recognize them? Athletes look different when they don’t have their names on their backs. People may not be as tall or as thin or as extroverted as they seem on TV.

          One Sunday before Passover, a man wearing ordinary clothes rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed baby donkey. Seems a little unusual, but the fickle people of Jerusalem treated him like someone extraordinary. I call them fickle because a few days later they treated him like an enemy of society. Who are these people? Who is this man riding into Jerusalem? With these reactions, is this A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY?

  1. Who are these people?

          So look a little closer at the crowd and their reaction. Some of it could be explained by circumstances. Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany, only two miles away. Mourners who had been there had to have reported this back in Jerusalem.

You know how some people are also humming Christmas songs right before the holiday? As pilgrims came to Jerusalem for Passover, they would “go up” because of the altitude of the city. They would often sing psalms on such trips just the way you and I might hum our favorite Christmas hymn. The Bible calls such psalms “songs of ascent.” Couple that with what the mourners from Bethany had said, and we are not surprised that people used Psalm 118 to describe him: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

          That same crowd must have also been familiar with the Old Testament King, Jehu of Judah (2 Kings 9). When Jehu was anointed, the people spread their cloaks on the ground in front of him. So the crowd had specific ideas about Jesus on what we know as Palm Sunday.

          So, were they followers of Jesus? Where were they five days later when Jesus was arrested? There were crowds, but the cheers had turned to jeers. Hosanna (he saves) had turned to “crucify him.” Even though they had seen miracles and knew the Scriptures, were they followers of Jesus or is this just a case of mistaken identity?

          You are followers of Jesus. You know about Jesus’ entrance and the palm branches and coats on Palm Sunday. Today is a big deal for us. It’s a day of rejoicing and all of those things are a part of our identity. But don’t take that for granted!

What we are going through is unprecedented in our lifetimes. Cheers may have turned to jeers for those people. For us maybe the temptation is becoming a “COVID-19 Christian.” That’s the one who is fine when things are going well, but things aren’t going well right now. It’s difficult when you don’t know what you can touch and what you can’t, or who you can be near and who you can’t, where you can go and where you can’t! Arizonans are not used to being cooped up! And we are not used to being cut off from people. It would be pretty easy to forget who is really in control of everything and start becoming one of those fault-finding, uncertain, panic-stricken, fearful, self-centered people by whom we are surrounded. Those are not Christ-like traits. So, are you a follower of Jesus or is this a case of mistaken identity?

  1. Who is this King?

If this is a case of mistaken identity, about what are you mistaken? Perhaps it is about the same thing that confused these Palm Sunday people. Perhaps instead of asking who they were or who we are, we need to ask who Jesus is.

It is clear there was a confusing, perhaps even a mixed, message in Jesus’ appearance. What king looks like that? What king doesn’t own his own transportation or have transportation that is so unimpressive? It’s like having the President of the United States riding down Central Avenue wearing cargo shorts and a State 48 t-shirt on a little girl’s bicycle with a pinwheel and tassels. It certainly doesn’t look impressive, nor does he!

Yet, the Scriptures make it crystal clear who Jesus is: Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”

What kind of a king is Jesus? It’s a question Herod, Herod’s father, and Pontius Pilate all wanted answered. Now we ask it, too. The only difference between their question and ours is that we don’t ask it with a sneer in our voice!

No king appears this way, but our king did! He was prophesied about in a unique way, a way that sets him apart, so that the world would recognize him and see him as unlike any king that ever was or ever will be. This King is the Savior of the world, our Savior. He is a Prince who came as a pauper to take away our spiritual poverty and replace it with the riches of his blood and righteousness.

          And that is what you and I cling to today. I can’t remember a time in my life when I have been more uncertain about more things. But there is one thing upon which I can focus, that can bring me through my uncertainty, and that is knowing who Jesus is. And that faith wipes away fear, overcomes panic, and gives me a focus that no one can have without him.

          You and I may not always clearly show who we are. Under stressful situations we have been known to do that. Thanks be to God then that in this stressful time, we turn our focus off of ourselves and put our firm confidence in Jesus our King. There’s no mistaking that. Amen.

Sermon – April 1, 2020 – Lent Wednesday

printable PDF:  Lent 5 Sermon

Pastor John Ehlers  ~  March 4, 2020  ~  John 11:33-37  ~  Lent Midweek 6

Hidden Warrior

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

We all boarded the plane at the same time. The flight attendant scanned all the boarding passes, and everyone walked down the Jetway. If you looked at the people, they all looked normal. But, of course, they were different: men, women, children, old, young, and from different ethnic backgrounds. When we were comfortable in our seats, the attendant welcomed us all on board and welcomed one special passenger. When she announced his name, most did not know who he was, but then she said that he was a veteran who had earned the Medal of Honor for his valor on the battlefield. We were surprised and clapped our appreciation.

Our theme for this Lenten season is about the Son of God going forth to the war that would change the whole world. But Jesus did not look like a warrior any more than the passenger on the plane did. Jesus as our great warrior walked among the people like anyone else. You could say that he was a Hidden Warrior.

  1. He wept like one of us!

We are told that Jesus was like all of us. He got tired, hungry, and thirsty. When he was a child, he grew up like every other child. “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

But there was one difference. He had no sinful nature and was completely without sin. When he was a child, it must have felt unusual to be his parents. He was always respectful, smart, and obedient, even when they lost their temper for the wrong reasons or were grumpy. They never had to give him a time-out or a spanking, and they never had to send him to his room without supper.

Peter tells us that we were redeemed (ransomed, purchased) from sin, death, and the devil “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19). He goes on to tell us, “[Jesus] committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).

Could you live a sinless, perfect life? I can’t, and neither can you. That’s why I am so glad that Jesus remained without sin all his life. When he gave himself for us on the cross, we can know for certain that his was the absolutely perfect sacrifice! There has never been a human being like Jesus! But you couldn’t tell he was sinless by looking at him. He felt compassion for others, he wept, and he even was angry when God’s house was turned into a market.

If someone had paid close attention, they might have seen that he was different. Every year Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover (Luke 2:41). As a 12-year-old preteen, Jesus went with his family just as they always had. But Jesus showed he had come for the battle to come. As he engaged the temple teachers in truth discussions, they could see that Jesus was a boy—he looked like your average sixth grader. But the words that came from his mouth gave evidence that he was much more! They were getting the first recorded peek at the hidden side of Jesus.

His greatness and his power were evident at times. On one occasion, this perfect Jesus arrived at the home of friends: Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, in Bethany (about 2 miles outside Jerusalem). Lazarus had died and been buried for four days when Jesus arrived. Mary was crying: “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’” (John 11:33-36).

What a caring heart Jesus has! That’s what caused him to cry real, salty, human tears when he saw the grave of his very good friend Lazarus. Even the people who were there to support the family of Mary and Martha could tell that those tears rolling down his face were real. They knew that Jesus had spent time with that family—they had eaten, laughed, and now cried together. Jesus felt their pain. It was a completely human thing.

You know what that is like. You have been at funerals of loved ones. Tears are the outflow of a grieving heart. The pain that comes from loss is very real. Jesus’ heart was as broken as yours or mine has ever been.

We have other tears to shed as well. Lent is a really good time to consider the pain we have caused others in our lives—how many times have our children been hurt by angry thoughtless words? How much irritation and anger have we caused because we’ve spent way too much time on Facebook, YouTube, or Internet gaming? How many tears have been shed because we’ve allowed our love for our family to shrivel and starve? How many times have we avoided the chance to start a conversation about Jesus and left another soul untouched by our Savior’s love? How many regrets do each of us have because of our sins?

Really, this church ought to have a box of tissues alongside the hymnals as we grieve over our sin. True repentance begins with sorrow (contrition). Lord, let it be so today!

We have something better than tissues to dry our honest tears! Because…

  1. Great unimaginable power lies just beneath the surface of our warrior!

Those in Bethany at the death of Lazarus had questions: “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (John 11:37). Jesus grieved because of the damage sin had done. Death wasn’t part of God’s plan for this world. It was introduced by Satan from outside our earth, and we hate it.

The friends of Mary and Martha hated it, too. They probably had heard—perhaps even seen—the recent miracle of restoring sight to the blind man in Jerusalem. Those friends were naturally wondering why Jesus had not used some of that healing power on Lazarus, his good friend. It’s the same question that was on Martha’s mind.

They asked because they knew there was something special about Jesus. We know that Jesus made the universe (Hebrews 1:2), which includes us! Think of the awesome power he has! Astronomers estimate that there are one hundred trillion galaxies in the universe, a number so big we can’t even imagine it, much less design it. They say there are more than ten million different species of animals on earth! Think of the unlimited creativity, brilliance, and power it took to make all that! None of this was an accident.

St. Paul writes, “Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:5-7).

That means that the man Jesus is also the Son of God, the second person of the triune God. He’s NOT 50 percent human and 50 percent God. Rather, he is what the Bible describes as the God-man, 100 percent fully human and 100 percent fully God. Martin Luther said that trying to understand this was “like trying to illuminate the sun with a candle!”

This is the astounding truth: The eternal Son of God, when he was born in Bethlehem, added a second nature to his perfect, holy, almighty self. God also became a human being! “He made himself nothing,” literally means that he “emptied himself.” In other words, he set aside and put on the shelf much of his God nature. He hid his glory. But once in a while he peeled back the veil and let it show.

And this was one of those times. He told Martha that she would see the glory of God (John 11:40). You know the rest of this miraculous event. He called the dead Lazarus out of the grave. He showed a glimpse of the power at his disposal. He smacked death in the face and forced it to yield. Like a warrior practicing his skills before a great conflict, Jesus is getting ready for the final battle with Satan just a week or so away.

Look at the damage Satan has done and is still doing. His personal goal is to rob you of your faith, take away your hope, and see you burn in hell while he laughs in your face. He’s bigger than any human being can handle. That’s why God’s plan to save this world was so perfect. We have our sinless human Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for our sin. But if Jesus were just a perfect human, his life would only count as a sacrifice for himself alone, not for the rest of the world. He’d have to keep coming back and go through hell billions of times, once for each of us. But he is the all-powerful Son of God. His death was more precious than the death of one human. He is our substitute and the substitute of all humanity. His suffering and death was complete for each one of us! Perfect man. Perfect God. Perfect plan!

  1. As both God and man, he fights for us.

Jesus called Lazarus his friend (John 11:11). His friend Lazarus was important to him. He also calls you his friend and has made you his friend by Baptism. How do you think he feels about you, especially when you are at a weak spot in your life—kids picking on you in school, your coworkers constantly critical of your efforts, your spouse giving you the silent treatment, or your friends abandoning you? Look at the cross and find your answer there. Jesus has your back.

You and I will continue to struggle in our lives. Maybe it’s physical pain. Maybe your heart is aching. We struggle with doubts about our faith. Sometimes God seems far away, doesn’t he? You pray, but it seems as if he’s not listening. You read the Bible, but it doesn’t seem to speak to you. It’s almost as if he is hiding. For now, he actually is hiding in plain sight in his Word and sacraments.

We are fully aware of the fact that the devil and his evil angels are circling our lives, looking for pounce points. But we know that God has made this promise to each of us: “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). So picture this: With one hand the God-man Jesus is controlling our universe, and his other hand is wrapped around you. You can’t see it yet, because our risen Jesus, who fills the entire world with his presence, has chosen to remain hidden from our vision right now. But he’s there—always has been there. He’s working out his plan for you because you matter to him. The cross proves that!

He’s fighting for you each and every day. The Bible tells us that he is making all things in our lives work together for our good! Every prayer you have uttered as a believer has been picked up by him and personally delivered to our heavenly Father. He has assigned angels to protect us as the spiritual battles are waged for our souls.

The tears of Jesus over the death of his good friend show that he cares deeply. The cross proves it. And our risen Jesus assures it. You’re in the best and most powerful hands in the universe! Now he remains hidden, but his power remains through all eternity—for us now. You are in a mighty warrior’s hands! Live boldly with him! Amen.