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You Are Confirmed by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 28, 2017
Today is the Seventh Sunday of Easter and Confirmation Day. In the Gospel reading we are taught by our Lord that it always begins with the Father. It is God the Father who sends the Son. The Son of God, He sends the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father. The Holy Spirit is sent to witness concerning the Son. And in the Son you have the way to the Father.
Austin, today you are being confirmed in the faith. Your being confirmed today has the backing of the work of God Himself, the Father sending the Son, the Son sending the Spirit, and the Spirit pointing you back to the Son. And the Son brings you back to the Father. Just think about if it were up to you to be confirmed in the faith. You would fail. Confirmation is not a matter of getting all the right answers. Confirmation is about confessing the work of the Triune God in your life.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, as the Baptized people of God, you have the same promise of God’s work in your life. When Austin was Baptized God brought him to faith, just as you were brought to faith in your Baptism. Today Austin will confess the faith he was Baptized in. He will say, Yes, I believe that I was born a sinner and that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit brought me to new and eternal life in Baptism.
And then comes the part we ought to remember our whole lives through, he will be confirmed in the faith. The blessing of the Lord will be spoken to him. The work of God of confirming people He does in this way, through blessing them. By blessing them He confirms them, that is, He strengthens them. Having been instructed in the faith and confirmed, we partake of the body and blood of Christ in which we believe what the blessing given says, “The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting.”
Austin, this why you will be receiving the Lord’s Supper today, because in it you are confirmed—strengthened in body and soul to life everlasting. This is why you will continue to receive the body and blood of Christ along with us, so that you will continue to be strengthened.
In teaching us today how our Triune God works in our life, Jesus shows us also why He continues to work in our life. Imagine if God saved you and then let you be. You would die just as a grape that is cut off from the vine would wither and die. Imagine if after you were born your parents let you be, you would starve because you wouldn’t be able to feed yourself. Jesus saved you in Baptism but He didn’t just let you be. He promised He would continue to feed you and strengthen you.
So to His apostles Jesus says in the Gospel reading that He will send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will give witness to Christ. And you know what He says that they will do? The same thing. Their witness will be the same thing. They will point people to Christ. There’s nothing different the apostles did from the what the Holy Spirit did. That is why we have the Bible, so that we can know that God has made Himself known to us in Jesus and has given His salvation to us in Jesus.
Imagine if we didn’t have the Bible. How would we know who God is? How would we know who Jesus is? How would we know how to be saved? But we have the Bible, because the Holy Spirit inspired the apostles to write the words down of who Jesus is and what He has done to accomplish salvation. Austin, you are along with all of us in needing to hear that we need to be in the Word of God, reading it, marking it, learning it, and taking it to heart. Your confirmation instruction is done, but your life-long learning of the Bible has just begun.
The Holy Spirit inspired the words of the Bible to be written by the apostles. Jesus says that they would be His witnesses because they are the ones who had been with Him from the beginning. Remember, He is the one who called them to be His apostles. They didn’t sign up for the job. Jesus didn’t take applications. He called them. He chose them. What they witnessed to was no longer their own opinion but rather the same thing that the Holy Spirit witnessed to, Jesus Christ.
You might think that that’s all well and good, but you might wonder what it has to do with you. What it has to do with you is that because the apostles proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, the Christian Church was continued after Jesus ascended into heaven. People heard the Gospel proclaimed and were saved. Because the apostles wrote down the Gospel proclamation, pastors down through the centuries have been proclaiming the very same Gospel.
Which brings us to you. You have heard the very same Gospel and so have been saved. In fact, though Jesus was speaking to the apostles when He said that they were with Him from the beginning, the same thing is true of you. You have been with Jesus from the beginning because He Baptized you. Give thanks to God that your parents followed the good and gracious will of God and brought you to this very font soon after you were born to be Baptized into Christ. You have been with Him from the beginning.
Jesus spoke all of these things to His apostles to give them strength. And He ensured that they would be written down so that you can be strengthened by them. What does He say would happen to them once He sent the Holy Spirit? He said, I have told you these things so that you would not fall away. The apostles were about to enter a dark period. Once Jesus ascended into heaven, those who didn’t believe in Jesus and sought to persecute Jesus would be persecuting those who proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus tells them that when these people would do this they would think that they were doing God’s will, doing what was pleasing to Him.
You can well imagine that when that happened the apostles would be tempted to fall away and give up on Jesus. I haven’t met anyone yet who would like to suffer for being a Christian. So listen to His powerful words to them, why those who would persecute them would do so: because they did not know the Father nor the Son. Oh, they would tell you that they believed in God. But Jesus is specific here. You cannot know God the Father unless you know Jesus Christ. Knowing God truly means believing that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that He brings salvation solely by His work through Jesus Christ.
If it was true of the apostles, it is true also of you. You will be persecuted because you believe in Jesus. Some people will just think you’re dumb for believing in Jesus. Some will laugh at you. Some might mock you. Some may even try to harm you. When these things happen, it is tempting to fall away. This is why you are being confirmed. When following Jesus becomes hard, go back to what He has told you. He said He has sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will always point you back to Christ. Always. You being confirmed is the work of God. He has promised to always be with you and He is the one who always strengthens you.
One of my favorite parts of the Bible is something that occurred 43 days after Jesus spoke these words to the apostles in our Gospel reading. It is in the first chapter of Acts. The setting is Jesus speaking once again of what He has told them here, saying, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Then you know what happened? Jesus ascended into heaven and was covered up by a cloud.
And there they were, standing, staring up into heaven. I wonder how long they would have been standing there looking up had not two angels appeared to them and said to them, “Why are you guys just standing there? How long are you going to spend looking up into heaven?” And then they said that Jesus, who was taken up from them into heaven, would come in the same way as they saw Him go into heaven.
It’s one of my favorite parts because, one, I think it’s funny how the angels respond to their standing around. And also because it’s the same with you and me. Christianity is not standing around wondering what happened to Jesus. He ascended into heaven, but remember, He has sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will always point you to Christ. Jesus ascended into heaven and will return in the same way, but He comes to you often to forgive you and to strengthen you. Don’t stand around. Come to His altar where He does the work. Where He gives you His body and blood to forgive you your sins and strengthen your faith. Amen.