AN OFFICE JOB
Text: Acts 1:12-26
Sunday May 21ST, 2023 – Easter 7
Trinity – Creston/Mount Ayr
Grace, mercy, and peace is yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Our Text for this Seventh Sunday of Easter is the First Reading from Acts 1 that was just proclaimed.
Let Us Pray: Dearest Jesus send your Holy Spirit working through your unchanging word of truth to ground us in the reality that you created each of us and gave us your name and grace in Holy Baptism redeeming us from our sin and rebellion. May that identity shape how we navigate through this earthly life and ultimately prepare us for eternity. Amen.
Dear Fellow Redeemed:
Matthias was called to an office job. By that I mean not that he had a job based in an office to carry out clerical or administrative work for an organization. Rather, his office job was a position of public authority and service.
The Oval Office. The Resolute Desk. They were around long before Joe Biden or Donald Trump occupied them, and they’re likely to be around long after. The Office of President of the United States is bigger than anyone who holds it.
Still bigger, Matthias’s office was one of authority and service to proclaim the name and Word of our crucified and risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was the office of apostle.
Apostles were “sent ones,” called and sent by Jesus Christ to say what he said, nothing more and nothing less. The qualifications for being in the office of apostle included being an eyewitness of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
In our text, we hear that two men were put forward to take Judas’s place in the Office of Ministry and apostleship of Jesus Christ: Barsabbas and Matthias. After the assembly of believers prayed, “they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (v 26).
Today, pastors are called into apostolic ministry. Pastors are obviously not eyewitnesses to Jesus’ death and resurrection, but they, like the apostles themselves, are called and ordained to say what Jesus said, nothing more and nothing less, for the Lord’s words, not ours, are the words of eternal life. That’s why we say
Your Pastor Has an Office Job.
I. In this office job, your pastor works in the stead and by the command of Jesus Christ.
A. Pastors are not in charge of the work being done, nor is it their words or actions that get it done. Rather, it is God’s Word at work in and through them.
B. You’re not in charge either, and that’s why you don’t determine what the pastor says in this office.
C. Both pastors and laypeople say and do things that fall short of the glory of God.
1. We often speak and act according to our fallen human nature because it comes easily to us.
2. But that’s also what gets us into trouble. Judas had to be replaced because he removed himself from office by following his own greed and sinful agenda (vv 15–19).
3. Our fallen human nature misses the mark when it comes to God and his Word.
A child was taught by his dad to play golf. Unfortunately, his dad’s swing was such that every time he hit the ball, it sliced. Like father, like son. The child’s swing, passed on to him from his father, was such that every time he hit the ball, he sliced it just like his dad.
Later in life, he took golf lessons and learned the proper swing. It didn’t seem right and felt awkward and wrong, but when he swung the club as he was taught by the pro, the ball went straight down the fairway.
Throughout his life, the golfer sought to swing as he was taught by the pro, but he often regressed to his old natural swing, only to watch the ball slice out of bounds. He had to keep going back to that unnatural swing to get it right and had to practice it throughout his life. It made him a better golfer.
Likewise, we, including those in the Office of the Ministry (Acts 1:15–17), have a natural way of speaking and acting that’s corrupted by original sin passed on from our parents. It’s our “go to” way and results in the slice of actual sin.
“Swinging” the Lord’s way is not only unnatural for us—it’s impossible. That’s why God gives us his Word and pastors to preach it. Through it, God in Christ credits to us the perfect “swing.” It comes from outside of us, so it’s something we practice by believing, that is, receiving, throughout our lives.
As members of the Body of Christ, you have a responsibility to hold your pastor to the Word of God. You need the Lord’s words, not the pastor’s opinion. Pastor Eugene Peterson relates how you, a layperson, might communicate this to your pastor. Stress the importance of the pastor’s office, not the pastor himself, and say to him,
We need help in keeping our beliefs sharp and accurate and intact. We don’t trust ourselves; our emotions seduce us into infidelities. We know we are launched on a difficult and dangerous act of faith, and there are strong influences intent on diluting or destroying it. We want you to give us help. Be our pastor. . . .
We are going to ordain you to this ministry, and we want your vow that you will stick to it. This is not a temporary job assignment but a way of life that we need lived out in our community. We know you are launched on the same difficult belief venture in the same dangerous world as we are.
We know your emotions are as fickle as ours, your mind is as tricky as ours. That is why we are going to ordain you and why we are going to exact a vow from you. And we know there will be days and months, maybe even years, when we won’t feel like believing anything and won’t want to hear it from you.
And we know there will be days and weeks and maybe even years when you won’t feel like saying it. It doesn’t matter. Do it. . . .
You are not the minister of our changing desires, or our time-conditioned understanding of our needs, or our secularized hopes for something better. With these vows of ordination we are lashing you fast to the mast of Word and sacrament so you will be unable to respond to the siren voices. . . .
Your task is to keep telling the basic story, representing the presence of the Spirit, insisting on the priority of God, speaking the biblical words of command and promise and invitation
II. Your pastor, like Matthias, was put into this office, the office of Christ, to carry out Christ’s mission for you.
A. He is under orders to preach only God’s Word.
1. The stole he wears reminds him and you of the vow he made at ordination to teach and preach the Word of God faithfully and administer the Sacraments in accordance with the Lord’s Word.
2. Even Peter could only say what God’s Word said (vv 20–22).
B. Since he only carries out the office of Christ, your pastor’s ministry is of eternal blessing to you!
1. Jesus says to those who speak his words, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Lk 10:16).
2. Jesus said in his prayer to our Father in heaven, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). Eternal life is knowing this Jesus, who won it for you by dying and rising.
3. When you hear your pastor proclaim Jesus’ words, words that forgive sins, words that are spirit and life, you know that you are forgiven, given eternal life.
So, if you don’t like what I have preached to you today, see the Lord about it. I only work here. This is an office job that’s good for you and me, even if we don’t always like what we hear, because it makes believers out of us.
Jesus said as he prayed to our Father in heaven, “I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me” (Jn 17:8).
This office exists to proclaim the Word of God written for us so that, as John writes, “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (Jn 20:31). Amen.
Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding, guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen