JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN! …
And so are you! Why do you think that the resurrection is such Good News? We’re not talking about just an exciting fact; isn’t that cool, a carpenter from Nazareth 2,000 years ago was raised from the dead. Now isn’t that special? We’re not talking about potentially Good News; Oh I hope and I pray that I might to be saved from my sin and receive eternal life when He comes back. We’re not talking about Good News to look forward to; Jesus died for my sins, and if I accept Him as my personal Lord and Savior, I to will be raised up with Him to eternal life on the last day. No! This is Good News now! Remember, news is the reporting of that which has already occurred; not speculation about what might happen; not prediction about what will happen. And the news is Good News; not news that is merely curious or exciting; but news that is Good for the hearer to receive. Why is the news that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead Good News? Because so are you! The Apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of Colossians, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Not might be raise because of Him; not will be raised with Him in the future; but raised with Him when He was raised. This is Good News! When you proclaim, Jesus Christ is Risen! You are also proclaiming, AND SO AM I! But now what? Do you just hang around and wait? Do you forget about it and go about your daily life as if nothing has happened? You have been raised from the dead! And yet you remain. Why? If you have been raised with Christ in His resurrection and yet you remain here and not ascended with Him, it must be for a reason. It must be because He wants you to do something. But what? Jesus says it right here in our Gospel text when He says to Peter, “Feed my lambs… Tend my sheep… Feed my sheep… Follow me.”
When we think about who is called to ministry; called to proclaim the Gospel through Word and deed in our homes, in our communities, across the nation, and to the ends of the earth, who are we thinking of? Who has been called? Who is responsible? Who should tend the flock? Should it be those that are best qualified; those with the education; experience; and fortitude to succeed? It only makes good sense. Right?
But wait a minute, just who was Jesus speaking to here. If these words were spoken to the Apostle Paul, it would make sense. Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee among Pharisees, the protégé of Gamaliel the first and greatest Jewish Rabbi. Paul was qualified to tend the flock, but Jesus was not speaking to Paul here. Jesus was speaking to Simon, son of John, the lowly and bullheaded fisherman who’s most noteworthy accomplishment to this point is to have denied Jesus not once but three times after His arrest. But Peter was not alone with Jesus, and Jesus’ words were not for Him alone. There were four other disciples specifically named in this text as being with Peter and Jesus and they all have one thing in common. They were all screw-ups; they all got it wrong. We have Thomas the Disbeliever who said of Jesus, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” We have Nathanael the Scoffer who said of Jesus, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” And we have two power hungry brothers – James and John – the Sons of Zebedee who said to Jesus, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you… Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” These are not the ones to who whom I would entrust the care of the flock, would you? And yet Jesus chooses them; He chooses all of them. He may have spoken to Peter, but they all heard His words; they all felt Peter’s grief when Jesus asked Peter three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” One question for each denial. And in those questions each of them felt the grief of their own disbelief; their own scoffing; their own quests for power. They all heard the question, “do you love me?” And they all heard the charge of Jesus, “Feed my lambs… Tend my sheep… Feed my sheep.” They weren’t educated for it; they weren’t equipped for it; they were absolutely the wrong people with whom to entrust this; and yet they are all chosen. They have – each one of them – died with Christ, and each one of them has been raised with Him from the dead, and each one of them is entrusted with the care of Christ’s flock. And so have you. You have died with Christ, and through faith you have been raised with Him by the power of God, and each of you have been entrusted with the care of the flock. It doesn’t matter that you’re not suited; it doesn’t matter that you’re not equipped; it doesn’t matter that you don’t want to, that you’d rather go fishing. The task is yours.
When you proclaim Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, you proclaim your own with Him, and in doing so, you take upon yourself what Jesus Christ has entrusted to all who have been raised with Him. As He is risen, so you are risen from the dead and Jesus calls you to follow Him. You are His chosen shepherds, each called to seek His lost sheep and bring them into the fold; to speak His Words to His lost sheep so they might follow Him, to tend this flock, to feed His sheep, to lay down your life for the flock, just as Jesus the Good Shepherd would.
This afternoon you will hear about several opportunities for us to tend His flock; to feed His sheep. You will learn about the Mission in our Midst, but what you should take away from our time together today is far more important than these specific opportunities to follow our Lord and Good Shepherd. What you should hold on to is that, as you have been raised, so you have been called. This is what it means to be the Body of Christ. We are not some special social club that figuratively calls ourselves the Body of Christ. We are His Body raised with Him from the dead, here in this place and this time, and entrusted with the proclamation of life to a world dead in sin. What makes you qualified? Is it your talents or knowledge or experience? No. What makes you qualified to proclamation of life to a world dead in sin? Just one thing. You are alive! Raised from the dead with Jesus in His resurrection.
Jesus Christ is Risen! … And So Are You! Amen.