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From Can't to Could

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Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 3449 Missions a Lunatic Project?

The British East India Company said at the beginning of the nineteenth century: “The sending of Christian missionaries into our Eastern possessions is the maddest, most expensive, most unwarranted project that was ever proposed by a lunatic enthusiast.”

The English Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal said at the close of the nineteenth century: “In my judgment Christian missionaries have done more lasting good to the people of India than all other agencies combined.

Blessed Lord, You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. Grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and take them to heart that, by the patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life. … through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Luke 24:36–43 ESV
As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.
In his sermon on this text, Dr. Luther said the following about the disciples on that first Easter:
Luther’s Church Postil: Gospels: Epiphany, Lent and Easter Sermons I. Christ’s Manifestation after His Resurrection

The disciples are gathered there together in seclusion. They are afraid of the Jews and are, indeed, in danger of their lives; they are fearful and fainthearted and afraid of sin and death. Had they been strong and courageous, they would not thus have crept into a corner; even as afterward they were made so courageous, when the Holy Spirit came and strengthened and comforted them, that they stepped forth and preached publicly without fear.

It is probably common, on Mission Sunday, to receive a sermon that bludgeons you for your lack of effort in witnessing to your neighbor, or your slowness to support the National and International mission work of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. The reality is that we live in perilous times; speaking boldly about the Mission of God could get you labeled as a bigot, judgmental, or intolerant, when you are simply trying to “love your neighbor as yourself.” People find it harder to keep up, not with the Jones’, but with the bills! Many congregations struggle just to get by; finding money to support something that will not bring a direct return on investment is next to impossible when people want to see the fruit of their giving.
See, we aren’t that different from the disciples that Easter day. They were trying to process the strange things that they were hearing from Mary Magdalene, the female disciple who had been delivered from the spiritual bondage of seven demons according to . In addition, two men came from Emmaus declaring that they just had dinner with Jesus, and Peter and John said that the tomb was, indeed, empty. How were they to reconcile these reports with what they knew had taken place just two days ago? In the midst of all that confusion, Jesus Himself appears without knocking or opening the locked door. How would you have responded if you were in their shoes?
Basically, the same way you respond to the preaching of the Gospel. Until you believe it, you don’t. The only way that you will believe it is through the Spirit opening your mind to receive what the Scriptures are telling you. The relationship between prayer and evangelism has always been a curious one. All the great periods of spiritual power have involved intense prayer, and yet prayer, both individual and corporate, is difficult to launch and sustain among many of us who name the name of Christ.
That day, Jesus showed them His hands and feet, then invited them to share a meal. He hasn’t changed His way of revealing Himself. He shows that He is present in the Body of Christ, and people still disbelieve and marvel, then He bids us to join Him in a meal. He wants us to see that He is real, He is still who He was, the God-Man who proclaimed and then accomplished God’s will, our salvation.
Luke 24:44–48 ESV
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
Jesus did everything that the Scriptures said He would do. Now the Church, Christ’s Bride and Body, is doing everything that He said she would do. She brings “a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name” (), offering with the Divine Service the sacrifices of Witness - Mercy- Life Together, fulfilling the Word that the author of Hebrews wrote,
Hebrews 13:16 ESV
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
We are Christ’s witnesses, stretching back through the centuries, across continents, in various cultures and contexts, but united by the message of Christ and the sealing of the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism. That witness has consistently delivered people from the wages of sin, and it is just as powerful when called pastors deliver it as when it is shared by the rest of the Royal Priesthood, “through the mutual conversation and consolation of brothers and sisters.”
Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 319.
The only thing that they needed to make sense of everything that day was what Jesus supplied as He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. We need to pray for that same understanding today, so that we don’t miscommunicate the Gospel, and even then we still need to pray that those around us have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying through the proclamation of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments.
Jesus has only one Bride - he doesn’t have a chick on the side called “Government.” He doesn’t have a girlfriend called “Social Services.” You can’t out-source His mission to a Spiritual Mercenary organization. Jesus puts you first. He hears your prayers every time you say them. You don’t have to come up with something new to appeal to Him. He doesn’t get bored with you praying the same words that you prayed last time - in fact, He told you to say those words. He doesn’t ask you to put on new clothes, He likes the clothes that He purchased for you:
Isaiah 61:10 ESV
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
How can you not love a Savior like that? The devil is a pimp; he promises you the world, takes everything you’ve got, and gives you nothing but trouble before he abuses you in the end. People out there resisting the sweet invitation of Christ, hoping that the world, the flesh ans the devil will change their ways and love them back.
Don’t get stuck on stupid!
Tell the person sitting beside you
He was lying then, and he’s lying now!
Now after church go tell somebody you haven’t told in a minute.
Then pray for somebody to whom you already told.
Then come back here next week and give your pastor a high -five because God gave you an opportunity to share Jesus!
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