Return to Sermons | Home

“Mission Mandate”
Luke 24:47


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
The Ascension of Our Lord—May 21, 2009

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

After Christ rose from the dead, he remained here on earth for 40 days, teaching his disciples.  He first showed himself to the women at the empty tomb.  Then he appeared to the disciples behind locked doors.  He displayed for doubting Thomas his wounded hands and side.  He walked with two of his followers on the road to Emmaus, and made himself known to them in the breaking of bread.  As this evening’s Reading from the Book of Acts says, “After his suffering, he showed himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”

After those 40 days on earth, Jesus led his disciples out to the Mount of Olives and ascended into heaven.  Today is the fortieth day after Easter Sunday, and so this evening we are here to celebrate and remember The Ascension of Our Lord.

Just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus left his followers with a “Mission Mandate”:  “Thus it is written” he said.  “The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed in his name to all nations.”

The mission: to proclaim; the message: repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name.  That is our “Mission Mandate.”

Note very carefully what Jesus does NOT say in our “Mission Mandate.”  He does not say, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins MIGHT be proclaimed.”  He does not say, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins MAY be proclaimed.”  He does not even say, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins SHOULD be proclaimed.”  What are Jesus’ parting words?  “Repentance and forgiveness of sins WILL be proclaimed in his name to all nations.”

That is the “Mission Mandate” of the Church.  That is the very reason for the existence of the Christian Church and of this congregation.  That is your “Mission Mandate” in life: To proclaim the two-fold message of “repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name.”

First comes the sting of the Law, calling us to repentance for our many sins.  A few years ago, a woman in a Chicago suburb received an unusually large telephone bill.  According to the telephone company, she owed them over a half-million dollars for almost 200,000 long-distance calls.  The actual telephone bill itself was over 50,000 pages and weight almost a ton.  She knew something was wrong when two delivery men arrived in a big truck and asked where she wanted them to put her telephone bill.

That bill, of course, was a computer error.  It turned out that all of the long-distance calls from every number in her exchange had been mistakenly charged to her number.  But, imagine what the bill really would be like detailing all your sins and what you owe God.

You have probably gotten bills which are stamped in red “Paid.”  When the bill for your sins was presented to God, he stamped it in red “Paid in Full,” with the blood of his own Son.

That is the second part of the two-fold message Jesus told his followers to proclaim: “forgiveness of sins in his name,” the Gospel, the Good News that the bill for the sins of the world has been “Paid in Full,” by the sacrifice of God’s own Son.

Paul puts it this way in Colossians: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things . . . by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. . .  He forgave us all our sins . . . he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”

There are many seemingly happy, well-adjusted, successful people in our world who are actually tormented daily by guilt and uncertainty.  Guilt because they know all too well that they are sinners.  Uncertainty because they have the mistaken idea that they must somehow pay for their sins themselves, but they can never be sure whether they have done enough.

Christ’s Church has the message that changes people’s lives.  The Good News that has changed your own life.  The Good News that “the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.”  The Good News that Jesus “Paid in Full” the price God demanded, for “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

That is the “Mission Mandate” of the Church, your personal “Mission Mandate” in life: “Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed in his name to all nations.”  What will you do to carry out the “Mission Mandate” of our Lord?

First, do exactly what you are doing here this evening.  Join with other Christians in worship.  Let every Sunday find you in the Lord’s house, singing his praises, hearing his word.  Just being here IS a powerful witness to your Savior.

Second, pray.  Pray for yourself, that you may life a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ, that you may give witness to your faith every day by what you say and how you live.  Pray for this congregation, that it may continue in the work of proclaiming the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins, and reaching out with Christ’s love.  And pray for the missionaries around the world that we sponsor through our Synod.

Third, give.  Give generously of yourself and your time and effort for the work of this congregation, and the earthly goods God has entrusted to you.  Give so that the work begun here 15 years ago may continue and grow for many years to come.  Give so that we can continue as a congregation to generously support our Synod’s missionaries around the world.

Fourth, share.  Share your faith.  Share the Good News of Jesus Christ by your life and with your lips.  Living a life that says to others, “That person is a child of God.”  And when God gives you the opportunity, sharing the message of forgiveness of sins in his name.

That is the “Mission Mandate” of the Church.  That is the very reason for the existence of the Christian Church and of this congregation.  That is your “Mission Mandate” in life.

“Thus it is written.  The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed in his name to all nations.”

Amen.

  Return to Top | Return to Sermons | Home | Email Pastor Vogts