Jesus said to them: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning in
The Risen Christ gives a mission to His disciples. It is not enough for Him alone to rise from death. Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection are meant to achieve great things for many others. The events in
The Lord God had delineated what would take place to the Christ for the benefit of many. It was written “that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.” For the past two months or so, those who have gathered here for Divine Service have heard prophetic statements from the Old Testament which described that very fact. Three weeks ago, it culminated during Holy Week with the great prophecy about Christ’s crucifixion.
Like countless thousands of the Lord God’s people of old, the Good Friday worshipers heard what the prophet had said about the Christ, but also about them: “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for sin, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. Out of the anguish of His soul he shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the Righteous One, My servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities.”
The Lord God makes known the suffering that His Righteous One will undergo. But it isn’t pointless. Rather, it achieves a great goal: others are made righteous by it as He carries their iniquities away. So it was written, so it was accomplished, as Christ Jesus hung derelict and still in crucifixion.
Jesus tells His disciples: “You are witnesses of these things.” With their own eyes, the Eleven had seen the prophecies fulfilled. They had seen Jesus accomplish them, doing “everything written about [Him] in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms.” Jesus had done everything that was foretold about Him—events and actions which had effect for others, including the Eleven who had witnessed His ministry on earth.
But now, after what had been written was fulfilled, Jesus gives a mission to these witnesses. The disciples now become apostles: “sent ones.” The Risen Christ makes it so: “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 and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.’” The Eleven who had seen Christ’s acts are given understanding of the Scriptures to know that what was prophesied had been accomplished by Jesus. And now they can make known what Jesus had done, so that the prophesied others may receive the benefit.
So the apostolic mission was given. And today, you have heard how Peter began to fulfill it. You heard Christ’s apostle proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name: “You denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. . . . But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out. . . .” Beginning at the
The facts of Jesus’ death and resurrection—what the apostles had seen—are proclaimed, so that sinners may repent and receive forgiveness. The fulfillment of the Lord God’s prophecies is meant to deliver—“to rescue from the peril of everlasting death,” as today’s prayer stated. Those who hear and believe, whether in
The effects of the Christ’s work made known through the apostolic mission are meant to reach you. What Jesus has done is for your benefit. The witness of these things has been given. You are to hear the proclamation of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Christ’s name, for you are to receive the salvation that He has accomplished for you. And so it has been done by those who have stood in this pulpit or in the chancel on
What Peter and John and the rest of the Eleven proclaimed is for your ears to hear: “You killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead.” You were not there in Jerusalem, but your sins, your transgressions, drove Jesus to Calvary’s cross and destined the Roman nails for His hands and feet—the same that He showed to the Eleven. “You acted in ignorance, as did your rulers.” For all that you knew by nature to be right was actually anything but. Your virtues were pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. But that was due to the blindness of sinfulness and depravity, the curse that Adam handed down to all his descendants.
But now you know differently. For what was prophesied has taken place. What the Lord God foretold “in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” has come to pass. You have heard “what kind of love the Father has given to [you], that [you] should be called children of God; and so [you] are.” That love was shown by the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus, “the Holy and Righteous One,” whom you sent to the cross. But so it was foretold that even the treacherous acts done to Jesus in human ignorance would lead to salvation.
So you are exhorted by Peter, the apostles, and all who stand in their line: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.” You now know how your actions violate God’s Law. So repent of them, just as you did this morning. Repent of what was done out of ignorance and turn away from the practice of sinning and lawlessness. Purify yourselves as the Lord God is pure. For a better, blessed fate is meant for you since the Lord God’s Christ has died and has risen.
You have sinned, but you have forgiveness as you believe in Him who has died and has risen. The marks in His hands and His feet and His side provide your salvation. Redemption is given in His name. Every one of your transgressions is to be blotted out, just as Peter said. For that is what the Christ’s death has made possible. And for all who believe, they shall see Jesus as He truly is, just as Peter and John and the rest of the Eleven witnessed. For that is what Christ’s resurrection has achieved: the promise of restoration and everlasting life for you.
“Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in [Christ’s] name to all nations.” That is the apostolic mission. That has been done in your presence, heard by your own ears, so that you may believe. You bear Christ’s name, as it was given to you in Holy Baptism. Through that divine act, you have been given the forgiveness of sins by being connected to Christ’s death and resurrection. And this morning, the very Body and Blood of Christ given in death for your salvation will be yours to receive on this day, so that your faith in Him may be strengthened. He desires to be the Author of your life—both now and in the world to come.
So the sent ones have spoken as they have come here in Christ’s name. Believe their words which extend the witness of Christ’s fulfilling what was written “in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms.” For by faith in Christ’s name you will be given perfect health in body and soul, being raised from death just as He was, being made complete and glorious at the Last Day,“the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets long ago.”
T In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.