Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!
"The woman when she gives birth, has pain, because her hour has come, but after she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for the joy of having a man born in the world." We have among us a woman who understands these words very well. Our sister Sarai has given birth to her son and it is my pleasure to announce the baptism date of Emmanuel David Sánchez Santana will be on May 6th.
But today, in our text, the Lord told his disciples, "A little more, and you will not see me, and again a little, and you will see me, because I am going to the Father." This speech occurred before his death and resurrection. So, He spoke of the three days in the grave when they did not see Him. After their resurrection, they saw Him for a little while before Jesus went to His Father. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye shall mourn and lament, and the world shall rejoice: but though ye be sorrowful, your sorrow shall become joy." The enemies of Jesus cheered, because they believed that they have finished with Him. As we know now, this was not the whole story.
Therefore, we can not fully understand the desperation of the disciples. We know that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price of our sins, but He also rose on the third day to win for us the promise of eternal life. On Good Friday, the disciples still did not understand what should happen. Neither did they understand the words of Jesus at this time.
"Again a little, and you will see me" means the 40 days between the Resurrection and the Ascension, when Jesus walked among His disciples in a visible way. He first appeared to Mary Magdalene and the women, then two disciples on the way to Emmaus, the apostles except Thomas, eight days later to all the apostles. Once, said San Pablo, He appeared to 500 of the brothers at the same time.
It is impossible for us to recapture the intensity of the Good Friday sadness, nor the joy of seeing the risen Christ with our own eyes. When a woman has her child in her arms, the pain of childbirth does not matter at all. At that time, everything seems worth it. So it was with the disciples.
However, there is an application for us. We live in the time between the Ascension, when Jesus went to the Father, and His second coming in glory to judge the living and the dead. It is a time of problems, trials and difficulties for us, until the return of the Lord, whenall our sadness will become joy. As the angels told the disciples, the same Jesus who ascended to the clouds, will return in the clouds.
So, each of us has a brief time in this world. There are only two possibilities: Physical death before the coming of the Lord or as living believers we will ascend together with the resurrected from physical death to receive the Lord in His glory. And we will be before the throne of the Lord for the final judgment and it will be the end of our earthly history.
Therefore, says St. Peter in the epistle (1 Peter 2: 11-20), we are foreigners and pilgrims. Our citizenship is in the kingdom of God. When we see our Lord face to face, all our sadness will turn into joy.
The question is, then, how do we live until that day? Saint Peter says, "Beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, that you abstain from the fleshly lusts that battle against the soul; maintaining your honest way of living among the Gentiles; so that, in what they murmur about you as evildoers, in seeing your good deeds, glorify God on the day of visitation. "
We have the promise of eternal life only by faith in Jesus Christ, not by our works. We are free from the guilt and condemnation of the Law of God. But, this freedom from eternal punishment does not mean that we can live in any way we want. On the contrary, we must do good works to give glory to God. God's will for us is to love Him first, and our neighbor as ourselves. We can not fulfill this Law perfectly, but, for the love that God has shown us in Jesus Christ, this is our desire.
Furthermore, says St. Peter, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”
The Fourth Commandment says, honor your father and your mother. This should be the basis of our attitude to all authority figures in our lives, teachers in the school, the police and all civil government. God instituted marriage and family and gave the parents the charge of caring for and protecting their children. When parents discipline their children at home, it is to teach their children and fulfill the first purpose of the Law, which is to restrict to a point, the bad acts. Other purposes of the Law are to convince everyone of their sin and to guide the believers in his life as children of God.
In a broad sense of the commandment, not only parents have the responsibility to exercise the primary purpose of the Law, also teachers in school and our employers. And the civil government has the authority to use force of arms for this purpose. By the command of God there are figures of authority in the church, too, who preach the Word and administer the sacraments. But, they do not have the authority to use force of arms, nor can the government command the beliefs of the people. Each has its own domain.
Because of sin, it is often difficult to live in this way. Maybe the government is not just, or does not act according to our will. Whether it is fair or unfair, we must respect the government in its role of caring for and protecting the people. You are citizens of this republic. It is not my position as a pastor to demand your vote for this candidate or another. Neither to say whether you should vote or not vote in elections. This is your freedom as citizens and Christians. As Christians we have dual citizenship, in the kingdom of God and in our country. And for the love of God and our neighbor, we must respect the rights of others. No matter the level of corruption in the government, it is not a pretext for looting and violence in the streets.
The authority above all is the authority of God. We must obey God before everyone, even our parents. If our parents do not say, we are going to steal or we are going to kill, we must say no. Also, if the government says we should not worship Jesus or worship another, we should say no. In all other things, we must respect the authorities.
Another error of the Jehovah's Witnesses is to say as a citizen of the kingdom of God, we should not salute the national flag or sing the national anthem. It is not the way to live. Let's render to the government that which belongs to the government and to God that which belongs to God. During the week in our preschool, we begin each day with the national anthem, Our Father and a biblical verse. On Sundays and on any other occasion, we pray for the government and the restoration of all justice and prosperity. Because this is the will of God. We hope with hope the second coming of the Lord and with the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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