Ascension Day.

When Jesus confessed that He was the Son of God and said, "I am: and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power and coining in the clouds of heaven". Then the high priest rent his clothes and saith, "Ye have heard the blasphemy. What need we any further witnesses?" Mark 14: 62-64 (The History of the passion of Christ, Third Part.)

From these words we hear what a terrible hatred rises in the children of the world when the Son of Man confesses Himself to be the Son of God. The chief priest rent his clothes with anger and wonder when a son of man must be so bold that he dares to confess Himself to be the Son of God, and also intends to go up to heaven to sit on the right hand of power. In their minds it was only a terrible pride and blasphemy of God. But even now the natural intellect becomes terribly offended when some child of man dares to confess himself to be a child of God. The crowd of the enemy can not stand such pride, for the enemy wants to be the father of all, of those who are in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth there fore he can not stand that some snot-nosed brat confesses himself to be a child of God: first, for the reason that he believes it impossible that some slave of the devil could become a child of God anymore, and second, he sees it to be terrible pride, that a sinful person dares to confess himself to be a child of God. The slave of the world is immediately dumbfounded and says, "Is that what kind the children of God are; an old whore, upon which an honorable lord of the world can not bear to look. A meek devil especially becomes terribly angry when some old whore or thief confesses himself to be a child of God. The intellect in this place opposes so that the meek devil becomes dumbfounded and angry and says, "Now you heard how he blasphemed God," for a meek devil does not dare to confess himself a child of God, neither does he believe that others are better than he, therefore he overlooks other poorer ones. As the Pharisees despised the publicans, nor did they have fellowship with them, so also an old Christian despises those awakened ones who have now appeared and says, "They are not Christians who keep themselves as Christians, but they are Christians who do not cry out in the streets but keep their Christianity hidden." Do you now hear, Pharisees, what kind your Christianity is? You call that blaspheming if someone confesses himself to be a child of God, who has in truth received the child right of the children of God, but that is not blasphemy when you lead a twofold life, are godly in church, and ungodly behind the church. As the former Pharisees and the enemies of the cross of Jesus were godly in church and ungodly behind the church, so also are the Pharisees of this time godly in church and ungodly behind the church, they are meek in church and whore behind the church, bless in church and curse behind the church, drink of the Lord's cup and of the devil's cup on the same day. Such are the old Christians, who keep that as blaspheming God, if some Christian confesses himself to be a child of God. They bear hatred in their hearts toward the children of God, and this spiritual hatred makes them blind. The devil reverses their eyes and paints such pictures before their eyes, through which the Son of God becomes a blasphemer of God and a disturber of the people. Christians become false prophets and wild spirits in the eyes of the Pharisees. But the false prophets become spiritual teachers in their eyes. What will the Pharisees then think, when the Son of Man sits upon the right hand of God? What will they think, when they see the children of men, whom they have despised and made mockery of, stepping up into heaven and sitting on the right hand of power? We have taken notice of what the sorrowless do when some Christian is ill. Then the sorrowless come to watch how it will go now with his soul if he is taken up into heaven through living faith, or if, through doubts, he sinks into hell. That is what the sorrowless come to watch when they also come to see a Christian's death; the wretches do not think that this Christian, who now can die with Joy, will be taken up into heaven, but they only come to watch if the Christian would have some form of doubt on his deathbed, so they would get to cry out to the world that his faith did not stand in death, although he kept himself to be a Christian. But if the sorrowless would first look upon the Son of God and take heed for what reason He also cried out a short while before His death, "My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" If the sorrowless of that time had taken that faith for themselves, that He cries for Elijah, but still less the sorrowless of this time would come to peer at the death of a Christian with that mind, that they would get to confirm their own false faith that this Christianity is not right, when doubts come even to them in death, who hold themselves to be Christians. Behold!  The sorrowless now come to peer at a Christian's death with that mind, that they could topple the Christianity, if even to a Christian would come doubts of his salvation before he dies. But let the sorrowless first explain why such a doubt came to the Son of God a short while before He died, so that He had to lament that God had forsaker Him. If this kind of a doubt has come upon the Son of God a short while before He died, certainly to many Christians distress can come on the death bed, when the enemy attacks him so powerfully with doubts, that he must lament like the Son of God, that God has forsaken him. And nevertheless God allows His merciful sun to shine just at the moment of death, that he can die fortunately, since contrarily the sorrowless can not cry out at the moment of death, as the Son of God, "It is fulfilled," for at the moment of death they must condemn themselves to perdition and confess that they are on a poor road.

We must today observe how the Son of God ascends into heaven, when we first look into heaven and bow down, praying that great King that His true disciples would go with joy and rejoicing to the Mount of Ascension to preach to all created, as our hope is, that the disciples of Jesus always await the coming of Jesus to judge the quick and the dead. Hear, Thou King, crucified and resurrected from the dead, and ascended into heaven; the humble prayer of the disciples, when they bow down praying to You on the Mount of Ascension, and come back again shortly to judge the quick and the dead. Our Father which art in the heavens, etc.

The Gospel:  Mark 16: 14-20

We hear from our Holy Gospel that there were only eleven gathered together when Jesus was taken up into heaven, but other evangelists have testified that other disciples also have seen Him ascend, into heaven. And Paul has written that He was seen of upward of 500 after His resurrection, of whom some of them doubted. We do not know if all were then present when He was taken up, or were there only those 120, who then immediately afterward were gathered in one house, when Peter began to speak of Judas, who fell away through deceit. But that we know assuredly, that there were not sorrowless there when Jesus was taken up into heaven, and we might therefore ask, why were not the sorrowless informed of this through the disciples, that they also could have come to see, when now Jesus ascends into heaven. But it appears as though the grace was only given to Jesus' disciples, that they could see Jesus after His resurrection. Surely the sorrowless would have come to peer if they had been informed that Jesus is at such and such a place, but no information was given to the sorrowless until just afterward, when the Apostles began to preach to the people that Jesus is arisen, that they have eaten and drunk with Him after His resurrection. Let us observe now, through God's grace, why the sorrowless were not given information of that place where Jesus appeared to 500 disciples.

The first consideration: The disciples of Jesus did not dare to reveal to the flock of the world before they had received the Holy Spirit. We well surmise that those 500 disciples who have seen Jesus after His resurrection have received word through the Apostles, in what place they must be gathered together and at what time they must be at that place. But all of these disciples have been so faithful, that they have not revealed that matter to the world, although the Christians seem to be so poor at watching over their tongues that they can not keep any secrets to themselves, but reveal everything to the world, even if it were forbidden, that they should not reveal all to the world, especially such mysteries through the revealing of which there could come great harm to all the Christians unitedly and especially to those to whom the matter pertains. We have seen from the gospel that the sorrowless cannot keep a secret, where it is written that the Saviour often said to them, "See that ye tell no one," and so He forbade them from crying out to the world about the good works of Jesus, for that reason especially that Jesus did not, want to gain vain honor of the world, and secondly for the reason that the lords of the world would know what Jesus did in the sickly. But it is also written in the gospel, that the more He forbade and warned them from speaking, the more they proclaimed it, and so we have seen that the sorrowless cannot be without speaking of all that they have comprehended of Jesus and of this Christianity. But from that the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees found reason to persecute Jesus when the sorrowless wretches always proclaimed to the world what Jesus did, although Jesus had forbidden them and said, "See that ye tell no one." When, namely, the sorrowless always proclaimed to the world the works of Jesus, finally envy arose in the hearts of the chief ones when they began to surmise after the bringing of Lazarus back to life, "This man doeth many miracles and all the people run after Him; look men, what do ye intend to to with Him." If even those sorrowless wretches, to whom Jesus did good works would have been quiet, as Jesus commanded, persecution would not have come so soon upon Jesus! But the more he forbade it, the more they proclaimed it, and through this proclaiming, envy arose in the hearts of the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees. But in that place the disciples of Jesus were very watchful over their tongues, that they did not tell the flock of the world where they could see Jesus.  And for what reason did the disciples of Jesus not reveal this to the world? Yes, for that reason that they feared; it is written in the gospel that they spoke nothing to anybody, for they were afraid. But He only told it to the disciples and all of the disciples could surely keep it a secret, so that the world's throng did not know where they could see not Jesus. But why did Jesus not reveal Himself to the sorrowless crowd of the world after His resurrection? It appears as though the sorrowless would have finally believed that He truly is the Son of God and the Saviour of the world if they could have seen Him after His resurrection.

Who knows if the sorrowless and hardened would have believed better even if they had been shown. In the last chapter of the gospel of Matthew it is written that some of the disciples doubted; what then would the sor-rowless crowd have done if the Saviour would have revealed Himself to them after His resurrection; would they have believed better? I think that they would have killed Him another time. For the nature of the devil is such that he becomes terribly angry if his most cruel works of murder do not prosper. Many a murderer has shed serpent's tears when the person to be murdered has not completely died. And so it would have happened if the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees would have seen that Nazarene teaching in the temple even after His deaths they would have become so angry and aroused to fury that they would have killed both the earthling and also his hearers. It can be seen from that how they become angry with Jesus' disciples when after Pentecost they began to preach to the people about Jesus's resurrectlon, how terribly angry the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees became over that matter.

But now comes the second consideration: Why were the sorrowless people not seen worthy to see Jesus after His resurrection? And why did not Jesus give word through the disciples that in such and such a place and on such and such a day, all who wanted to could see the Nazarene, that great disturber of the people, ascend into heaven? I think that the sorrowless people have such a great desire to peer, that they would have gathered from every village if they would have received word. But surmise now yourselves, you sorrowless, why they were not given to see that Man, whom they themselves have slain and crucified. Let the sorrowless ponder now themselves, why that crucified Nazarene did not show the world's crowd His wounds anymore after His death, as He showed them to His sorrowful disciples and especially to that doubting Thomas.

I think that the sorrowless would have all become frightened and thought that it is an earthling. As we have heard that all the sorrowless fear the earthlings, although they themselves are living earthlings and without a doubt will become earthlings after death, if a true conversion and repentance does not happen here in the time of grace, then all sorrowless, all hypocrites, and all grace thieves will become earthlings after death. As they already here fear those dead and earthlings, they would have feared the Nazarene if they would have seen Him after His death. And if they would have realized that He had flesh and bones, they would have certainly killed Him again, that He would not haunt and walk anymore on the earth. Did not such a fear even come to the disciples when they saw Him the first time after His resurrection? They thought they saw a spirit they thought that it was an earthling who came to them. What then would the sorrowless have thought if the Nazarene would have again preached repentance to them after His death? They would have surely said, "That is an earthling who has been raised up upon us." They would have gone to seek sorcerers who could relieve them of the earthlings. Although the rich man in hell had such a faith that his brothers would believe better if someone rose from the dead, nevertheless it is not so; the sorrowless do not believe, no matter who would come from hell to remind them what kind of a life is there.  Those who do not believe Moses and the prophets, would not believe if someone rose up from the dead.  Here are now two reasons why the sorrowless are not worthy to see Jesus after His resurrection. The first is, that the sorrowless do not believe even if someone rose up from the dead to preach repentance and penitence; the sorrowless greatly fear the dead and the earthlings, although they themselves are living earthlings, for their lives are like the earthlings' lives in hell. But secondly, they would kill Him again if they came to know that He has flesh and bones. The sorrowless and slaves of the world are not worthy to see Jesus after His resurrection, when sorrow has not even come to them over the Saviour's death, although that crucified Saviour is portrayed before their eyes. If the sorrowless would have had a conscience, then sorrow should have some to them over the death of Jesus.  But they have no conscience, therefore they can be without seeing, but certainly they can once see whom they have pierced.

Now we must yet observe those signs which come to those who believe. The first sign is this: that through Jesus' name, devils are driven out. This has happened then and happens even now, that devils are driven out of people through the Word of God,  Namely, when the awakened people attain faith, then the devil of selfrighteousness is driven out of the heart, then the believing ones also begin to speak with new tongues, although not naturally like then, but spiritually; they speak of God's powerful works and of that great grace which has happened to them. The third sign is this: that they must drive out serpents. Oh, if all the Christian girls would drive away those serpents who come to thorn in the form of a suitor. Certainly they could do that? the power is given to them, but often they carry the serpent in their breast and thereby become deceived. And if they drink some poison, it will not harm them. This has then happened naturally, but now spiritually, that the poison of sin can no longer harm the believers, although spiritual hatred is often offered to a Christian, which is that true poison of the serpent which the dragon spews upon them. It does not harm the believers, no matter how the dragon spews out poison upon the believers; the poison does not make them swell, it is as if it did not even touch the believer's hearts. The fifth sign is this: they they must lay their hands on the sick and they will be healed. This sign has not happened naturally in these times, but spiritually it, too, happens, for all who are ill because of selfrighteousness will be healed, when the Christians encourage them to believe upon that great Crossbearer and thorn-crowned King, who has suffered for all, has been in hell for all and sweat blood for all, has cried out for all, cried in behalf of all hardened ones, although certainly these tears help no one, when they do not take heed of them in the time of grace. They do not help unless those same tears become burning in the time of grace, and those countless drops of blood, which have dropped from His holy body upon this sinful earth, do not help them who always trample His blood and mock His tears.

Now that great Crossbearer has ascended into heaven to prepare a place for the disciples, but how can He prepare a place for the enemies of the cross, who blaspheme and continually oppose? For them the devil has prepared a place in the lake of fire. But to those few souls who stand and gaze up into heaven at His going into the Father's kingdom, for them He has gone to prepare a place in the kingdom of heaven to them He also sends His Holy Spirit, and through that they will be clothed with power from on high to preach of Jesus' resurrection and ascension until the time He comes from there to judge the quick and the dead. So return now with joy and rejoicing from the Mount of Ascension, you few disciples, and await the promise of the Father, which Jesus has told you. Wait until the fiftieth day is fulfilled, wait until that time when you will be clothed with a greater power from on high. Wait until then, when the promise is fulfilled which the angels have promised, that Jesus of Nazareth will come from heaven even as you have seen Him go up. Then all the enemies of Jesus' cross will see whom they have pierced. And all disciples, who have labored faithfully in the Lord's vineyard and in God's congregation, can then receive their merited wage, that allotted penny for the day. Amen.