The Jesus Impact
As you receive this newsletter, we’re entering into the most solemn of days in our church year calendar—Holy Week. The events of our Lord’s life and ministry during Holy Week, Easter and a short number of days beyond that speak volumes to us as Christians. In a mere span of just under sixty days we see the Lord make good on His promises of old concerning salvation and then we see its impact on His disciples and on the world.
On Palm Sunday we see Jesus hailed as King. The cries of “Hosanna,” which means “Save us,” are rather short-lived, and very quickly turn to “Crucify Him!” As Jesus is arrested, even His disciples turn and run. Their lives are at stake. One of His own betrayed Him. One of His closest denies Him three times. What Jesus said to His disciples in the Upper Room comes true: “You will all fall away because of me this night.” Even after some of them witness the empty tomb and the Resurrected Christ appears to them, still the disciples are locked up in a room, paralyzed by fear. Even days later, having spent time with the Risen Savior, receiving more of His teaching, including the command and institution of Holy Baptism, there were still some who doubted.
St. Luke records Jesus’ words shortly before His ascension to the right hand of the Father. Jesus opens the minds of His disciples to see what He’s all about. He had taught these same things before His death, namely that the Old Testament foretold exactly what took place in His suffering, death and resurrection. Now, post-resurrection, Jesus opens their minds to see salvation accomplished. And what an impact it has. Now salvation must be proclaimed. Jesus commissions them anew to boldly proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name. The promise He made of the sending of His Holy Spirit will thrust them forward.
Think about how amazing this is, dear Saints of Zion! In less than sixty days, Jesus suffers, dies and rises for the sins of the world. He institutes Holy Baptism and Holy Communion for the purpose of delivering that salvation. He ascends to the Father to prepare a place for His people, a place where He will bring them when He returns at the End. He sends the Holy Spirit to empower the apostles to do what He has commissioned them to do, to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Jesus’ followers are changed from fearful cowards who turn tail when their Master needs them most to valiant apostles who are willing to suffer all, even death, for this ministry.
This speaks volumes to us, Zion. Here we are finding ourselves discussing reducing the mission and ministry of our congregation. And why? Is it because we have to? Or is it because we’re afraid? I would suggest that it is because of the latter. Yes, the economy has hit us in a bad way. Yes, tuition revenue is down at the school. These real challenges hurt us, but we don’t have to let Satan use them to hamper us. We don’t have to sit on our behinds, paralyzed in fear. We don’t have to turn tail and run the other way when our Lord needs us the most. We can move forward boldly and courageously as faithful children of God.
Our Lord does have need of us! Better yet, we have need of Him! There are very real ministry needs within our congregation and within our community. Come and be a part of the Prayer Vigil on Holy Saturday and your eyes will be opened to the need for the Gospel of Christ at Zion, in Staunton, and beyond. We recently witnessed the tragic death of a young girl in an accident. Members of Zion were personally impacted by this, even a young girl of our own. Members of Zion are suffering from terrible illnesses. These people need the Gospel more than ever, the Gospel that assures them that no matter what, God loves them in Christ. Because Satan tries to take our suffering and our tragedy and tell us just the opposite.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, we need not be paralyzed by fear. We need not fear trusting the Lord that He will bless us as we give back to Him our firstfruits. I for one am not giving up. I am not throwing in the towel. The need is too great. I will not back down from preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins, from proclaiming Christ crucified and risen for you. I will not back down in the example of faithful tithing. I will not shy away from letting you see the impact of your Lord and Savior. Are there times when I am afraid? Of course. But the Lord Jesus has shown me many, many times that I need not fear. I expect Him to continue to show me that. One of those most recent times was when He brought me to Zion. How blessed I am to be here with you!
Fear not, ye Saints of Zion. You have much to rejoice in this Holy Week and Easter! All that Jesus did in less than sixty days impacts you here at Zion. You have the preaching of His death and resurrection. You have His Baptism, His Supper, His Holy Spirit. As we proclaim the salvation story, especially in these weeks through Easter and into Pentecost, you’ll witness the impact our Lord has on church and world. You and I are part of that. I’m eager to see how Jesus impacts you as we move forward together here at Zion. As always, you are Zion! And you are loved!