Rogate – Call upon Me
6 Sunday of Easter
(May 16–17, 2009)
“Peace that overcomes the world”
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Our text for today is from the Gospel lesson just read, with focus on Jesus’ words, These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
This Sunday is Rogate Sunday, that is, this is the Sunday during Easter when we reflect and hear how God calls upon us to call upon him. This is the Sunday of prayer. This is the Sunday when God’s Word teaches us that because Jesus rose from the dead, we can go to God bearing His name and know that He will hear us and answer our prayers.
The catechism teaches us this regarding prayer:
Our Father who art in heaven.
What does this mean?
God would by these words tenderly invite us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that we may with all boldness and confidence ask him as dear children ask their dear father.
The Christian faith is not faith in an idea or a concept like peace or love or joy. No, unlike every other “faith” or “religion” in the world, the Christian faith finds its object in a person. In me you have peace, said Jesus. Now think about that, and you will be amazed at the tremendous gift which Christ our Lord gives to us by His great mercy and love. For this closely connects us to our heavenly Father.
Our Father who art in heaven…in me you have peace. So many people the world over try and find their strength, their hope, their power in a concept or a philosophy. Pick yourself up by your bootstraps. Use the Force. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Only you can change you. Indeed, if you were to examine the major religions of the world, like Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, New Age philosophies, or even atheism, you would find one thing in common: for all of these religions, if God plays any part in their worldview, He is an object to be revered or perhaps a goal to be reached. But in all of those religions, there is no relationship, there is finally no person involved at all. You are left to your own devices to work your way out of your own problems.
Sadly, this is how many Christians act. We act as though God is simply a thing or an object to bring out of the closet and dust off when it becomes convenient, or when you want to impress people. But when things really go downhill, when you begin to have tribulations like Jesus talked about in our text, when that happens, there will always be one part of you which believes that you have to get your life fixed before you can go to God. There will always be one part of you that believes you have to fix all these problems yourself before you can be right with God. This is why some people tremble at the thought of coming to the Lord’s Supper. I am not worthy. I have to get this, this, this and this figured out before I can go to God.
Now, of course, as long as you are living under the Law, that’s true. The Law teaches you that you are not worthy, and that you must be cleansed and purified and perfect before you can enter into God’s presence. And that’s true. But what the Law doesn’t teach you is that Jesus’ death on the cross is your cleansing and purifying. Because you are in Him, you are perfect and holy, righteous and without sin before God.
This is why Jesus says in me you have peace. Your peace is not in your works, not in your pious intentions or goodwill, and it’s certainly not in your holiness or righteousness. Your peace, the only peace you will ever have and the only peace that really matters, THAT peace lies in the wounds of Jesus Christ alone. In the person. Your peace lies in the man Jesus Christ.
Why is this so important? Why is this so central to the Christian faith? This is so central because this is at the heart and core of who God is and what He longs to give you as one of His children. The triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, longs to draw you into His presence and to give you His love and mercy and forgiveness. He wants to share all that He has with you, the sinner redeemed by Christ. This is what St. Paul speaks of in I Timothy chapter two:
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
Jesus Christ is the go-between for you. You go to Jesus, for in Him lies all your hopes and dreams. This is why we pray of our collects through Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord, and this is why we pray Our Father who art in heaven. We could not pray Our Father unless Jesus our brother was praying with us and for us.
So how does this bring you comfort and peace in the face of trials and persecutions and difficulties of body and soul? There are three ways this brings you comfort:
First, Jesus is always praying with you when you pray. Your prayers are never alone. You may not even know what to pray for! But Jesus does, and when you open your lips in prayer, Jesus perfects them and brings them to His heavenly Father, so that what you need is heard perfectly.
Second, God promises to answer these prayers. When you pray in Jesus as a baptized Christian, God promises to hear you. Whatever you ask in my name, says Jesus. God hears you. He will answer. In His own time and in His own way, to be sure, but He will answer you.
And third, Jesus has already gone through the worst, He will see you through this. Whatever your need, whatever your trial or heartache, Jesus has gone through it and much, much worse. If He can die on the accursed tree and rise again from the dead, He will see you through to the end of your journey to heaven.
So this is what Jesus means when He says These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. The victory’s won. Pray without ceasing, for God will always answer your prayers in the name of the One who has overcome the world. In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.