Watch Here
3 Easter Year B                                                                                 4/14/2024

Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-48

Rev. Mark A. Lafler


After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ…

He appeared to his disciples a great number of times.


Some are famous narratives…

Some are almost passing references in the Gospels.

But many saw him.

In these accounts…

Jesus calls his disciples to belief in the resurrection.

He calls the early Christians to follow him…

He calls the people of God to action…

He calls the children of God to mission.


One of the ways we can describe the actions of this calling is through three words that start with the letter “W”.


I want to focus on the third “W” but let me touch on the first two briefly.





The first one is worship.

We are called to worship God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


This is our purpose – to worship God Almighty through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Worship is the purpose of our gatherings on Sunday mornings and on high holy days.

We do not gather principally to meet our needs.

We do not gather so that we feel better or to check off a box.

We do not gather even directly for the benefit of community, for service, or for personal piety.


We gather here today to worship the living God.

The one true God…

The creator and savior of humankind.

We worship God in prayer and song,

in scripture reading and declaration,

in word and sacrament.


We worship God in proclaiming his goodness as the gathered children of God.


And not only do we worship as gathered people,

but also, as individuals and families throughout each and every day.


Our chief end in life is to glorify God…

To worship him and enjoy him forever.

(The Westminster Shorter Catechism, #1)


So, our calling is to Worship.


Now, the second “W” is we are called to be warriors.

Now this is not a call to pick up arms and fight for our rights…

Or something like that.

And certainly, the church at certain times has really gotten this wrong.


It is, however, important to understand that we are really in a war…

A spiritual war…

Fought in the heavenly realms.

This battle is fought in prayer and in action.


We see it in the scriptures…



Especially in verses like Ephesians 6:

Put on the full armor of God,

so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,

but against the rulers, against the authorities,

against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.



Our hymnal also expresses our theology, and we see this calling of warrior in hymns such as number 562:

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,

With the cross of Jesus going on before!

Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;

Forward into battle, see, his banners go.


We see it also in the hymn before it, number 561:

Stand up, stand up, for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;

Lift high his royal banner, it must not suffer loss:

From victory unto victory his army shall he lead,

Till every foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed.


You see we live this calling as warrior when we defend our home and our church against the schemes of the devil with false doctrine and practice.

We live this calling when we fight in this world against injustices laid out before us in social practice, discrimination, and those that take advantage of people that cannot defend themselves.


We are called to be worshippers and warriors.


Now the third “W” is right in our text.

Right at the end of our Gospel reading.

Jesus says:

…Thus it is written,

that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations,

beginning from Jerusalem.

You are witnesses of these things.


We are called to be witnesses of Jesus Christ.

Specifically of the good news of Jesus.

What we call the Gospel.

Our Lord specifically mentions:

His suffering, His resurrection, as well as Repentance and Forgiveness.

These things are to be proclaimed to all nations.


Jesus is saying that our witness is about sharing the cross and the resurrection… and that through this work of the Messiah, the Christ, we can repent and receive forgiveness.

That is what we proclaim here at church.

That is what we are to proclaim in the world.

And we do this in love, with hope, by faith, with grace.


Now I want to point out two words, in this text, that get a little lost in translation here.

Jesus says:

…Thus it is written,

that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations,

beginning from Jerusalem.


This word nations… to all nations… is important.

When we hear the word nation, we often think of our modern nation state – like France, Colombia, Nigeria, etc.

But that is not what the word has in mind.


The idea of a nation state wasn’t invented until much later.

Scholars argue whether the idea of a nation was developed in the Middle Ages or of a more modern time period…

But either way, that is long after the time of Christ.

So, the modern nation state is not what is being said here.


In the original text, the Greek word, you will recognize it, is ethnos.

Which is where we get our contemporary English word – ethnicity.

It refers more to a race of people…

especially in our context to people outside Judaism…

in other words, Gentiles.


So here, Christ Jesus is saying that we are to proclaim his cross and resurrection, his forgiveness to all ethnic groups…

not just nations…

But the rustic villages, the cities, those close and far.

All people.

Everyone, regardless of religion, race, or ethnicity, should hear the good news of Jesus Christ.


A second word that gets lost in translation is the word witness.

When Jesus says:

You are witnesses of these things.


Again, in the original text, the Greek word, you may recognize it, is martureo.

It means to witness, to give evidence, to testify…

Usually as an eyewitness or an earwitness.

We are to give testimony or witness of the things of Christ Jesus.


But what is fascinating about this word is how it developed over a short time in history.

The word may sound familiar to you because it is where we get our English word Martyr from.

A martyr is someone who is killed for their faith or their testimony, their witness.

It was only in the second century, when, martyr became a technical term for a person who had died for Christ.

In just 90 years or so, the word went from someone who is a witness, to someone who is killed because of their witness.


The early disciples and followers of Christ Jesus felt so strongly about their testimony and witness of Jesus that they died for it.

This happened so much that the actual word evolved to mean what we know the word martyr to mean today.


In fact, later a different word was used to define someone who proclaimed Christ’s lordship at trial but did not suffer the death penalty.

That word is confessor.

Which is the title given to the patron saint of our Church.

St. Edward the Confessor from the 11th century.


So, our lesson today… is that we are called by our Lord Jesus to be witnesses of who he was and is.

Christ suffered and died.

Christ rose from the grave.

And through his work we can repent and be forgiven.

This is what we proclaim to all people – all groups of people.

This is our testimony.


This is the Easter message…

On this third Sunday in Easter…

As Christ appeared to his disciples…

He said:

…Thus it is written,

that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations,

beginning from Jerusalem.

You are witnesses of these things.


Christ says to us today: You are witnesses of these things.


So, may we go into this world,

into our towns,

into our neighborhoods,

and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.


For that is our calling.