JOHN 20:24-29: Quasimodogeniti, 12 April 2015
Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center
The Rev. Jason D. Lane


CHRIST IS RISEN!  The text is John 20:24-29. [24] NOW, ONE OF THE TWELVE, THOMAS (CALLED “THE TWIN”) WASN’T WITH THE DISCIPLES WHEN JESUS CAME.  25] THE OTHER DISCIPLES TOLD HIM, “WE’VE SEEN THE LORD!”  BUT HE TOLD THEM, “UNLESS I SEE THE NAIL MARKS IN HIS HANDS AND STICK MY FINGER WHERE THE NAILS WERE AND STICK MY HAND INTO HIS SIDE, I WON’T BELIEVE IT!”


26] A WEEK LATER, HIS DISCIPLES WERE IN THE HOUSE AGAIN AND THOMAS WAS WITH THEM.  THOUGH THE DOORS WERE LOCKED, JESUS CAME AND STOOD AMONG THEM AND SAID, “PEACE TO YOU!”  27] THEN HE TOLD THOMAS, “PUT YOUR FINGER HERE; LOOK AT MY HANDS.  REACH OUT YOUR HAND AND STICK IT INTO MY SIDE.  AND STOP DOUBTING AND BELIEVE.”
28] THOMAS SAID TO HIM, “MY LORD AND MY GOD!”

29] JESUS TOLD HIM, “YOU’VE BELIEVED BECAUSE YOU’VE SEEN ME.  BLESSED ARE THE ONES WHO HAVEN’T SEEN AND YET BELIEVED.”  CHRIST IS RISEN!

JOHN 20:24-29: Quasimodogeniti, 12 April 2015
Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center
The Rev. Jason D. Lane


CHRIST IS RISEN!  The text is John 20:24-29. [24] NOW, ONE OF THE TWELVE, THOMAS (CALLED “THE TWIN”) WASN’T WITH THE DISCIPLES WHEN JESUS CAME.  25] THE OTHER DISCIPLES TOLD HIM, “WE’VE SEEN THE LORD!”  BUT HE TOLD THEM, “UNLESS I SEE THE NAIL MARKS IN HIS HANDS AND STICK MY FINGER WHERE THE NAILS WERE AND STICK MY HAND INTO HIS SIDE, I WON’T BELIEVE IT!”


26] A WEEK LATER, HIS DISCIPLES WERE IN THE HOUSE AGAIN AND THOMAS WAS WITH THEM.  THOUGH THE DOORS WERE LOCKED, JESUS CAME AND STOOD AMONG THEM AND SAID, “PEACE TO YOU!”  27] THEN HE TOLD THOMAS, “PUT YOUR FINGER HERE; LOOK AT MY HANDS.  REACH OUT YOUR HAND AND STICK IT INTO MY SIDE.  AND STOP DOUBTING AND BELIEVE.”
28] THOMAS SAID TO HIM, “MY LORD AND MY GOD!”

29] JESUS TOLD HIM, “YOU’VE BELIEVED BECAUSE YOU’VE SEEN ME.  BLESSED ARE THE ONES WHO HAVEN’T SEEN AND YET BELIEVED.”  CHRIST IS RISEN!

The first order of business on Easter Morning—well, after He stormed the gates of hell and took the keys—was to sent word to His disciples to head up north to Galilee where He’d meet them. So how come on Easter night, He was still down in Jerusalem? Because they were still down in Jerusalem.  Because they wouldn’t go to Galilee, because they didn’t believe He was alive, because they just didn’t trust Him to do what He said. They weren’t much.  But on the other hand, they were His, and He wasn’t going to leave without them.  When they were overwhelmed with sorrow, before he was betrayed, He told them, “YOU WILL SEE ME AGAIN AND YOU WILL REJOICE.”  He was right. That evening, He walked in on them—solid body through solid door—to prove it, to shove the evidence in their face, if it came to that…so close you can touch. CHRIST IS RISEN! Whatever it took, He wasn’t going to leave without them.


And thank God, because why shouldn’t Jesus leave without me? Or why shouldn’t He leave without you? Whenever you wouldn’t do what He said, or whenever I wouldn’t go where He told me, it was always because we wouldn’t trust Him to just be right. Which is so wrong. The DISCIPLES had good reason to trust Jesus. And so do we. Hasn’t He always been right about everything?  But weirdly enough, the reason THOMAS was never going to trust Him again was exactly because Jesus was right about it all.


Jesus told him, I’m GOING TO GET ARRESTED, AND TORTURED, AND CRUCIFIED.  And ON THE NIGHT HE WAS BETRAYED, He told him, “Here it comes. I’ve got to go and you can’t come with Me this time.”  And THOMAS said, “LORD, WE DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING.  Where’re You going?” Like he never expected it to be real. 


In the same way, Jesus told us disciples that THOSE WHO WANT TO LIVE GODLY IN THIS WORLD WILL SUFFER. He told us that WE MUST ENTER THE KINGDOM THROUGH MANY TROUBLES and temptations and temptations. It’s just such a shock when it all gets real. Then, way too often, it’s, “Lord, what’s happening? Lord, how can I trust You when everything’s happening – just the way You said?” 


It was a shock for THOMAS, when it all got real. Because they really arrested Jesus, and they really tortured Jesus, and they really hammered nails through His hands and feet and stabbed Him with that spear. None of the other disciples talk about Jesus’ wounds, but THOMAS couldn’t get them out of his mind:  V. 25] He said, THE MARKS IN HIS HANDS WHERE THE NAILS WERE, as if to say to the others, “You guys don’t get it, do you?  They killed Him.  He’s dead, totally dead, with a hole in HIS SIDE big enough to STICK my HAND INTO.  And now you tell me everything’s okay!  I WON’T BELIEVE IT.”  What he meant, of course, was, “I’ll never BELIEVE again, not the way I did.” And why? Because Jesus was really right about everything.  


You’ve heard the expression, “Once burned, twice shy.”  But what about, “Never burned, shy anyway”?  Because Jesus never burned THOMAS, and He’s never burned us. It just turned out He was right about it all, about everything He said.


And not just about His crucifixion; He was right about THOMAS, too. You remember how, just before Lazarus died, the Judeans tried to stone Jesus to death, but then He still insisted on going back there when He heard Lazarus died. And it was THOMAS who told the others, LET’S GO, TOO, AND DIE WITH HIM. Because THOMAS loved Jesus. THOMAS didn’t want to live without Jesus. But that was when Judea was a long way away. 


It was different when it got real. On that last night, Jesus told THOMAS and the rest:  YOU’RE ALL GOING TO ABANDON ME.  THOMAS said, “NEVER!”  But when it got real, it turned out that THOMAS did want to live without Jesus. It turned out that THOMAS wanted to live very much. When it got real, THOMAS left without Him.  … Who burned who? Oh, you’ve got to love Him enough to say, “I’ll suffer anything, even death, rather than leave You.” We all said that when we were confirmed. 


But one way or another, THOMAS could be spokesman for us all:  “We said we trusted Him. And then we treated Him like He just got it all wrong.  We said we loved Him. But what did we really do? And now you tell me, ‘Get over it! He’s alive and everything’s all right!’”  But the spirit of THOMAS says, “I’ll never get over it. Count me out; I’m done believing.”  But who ever said we were supposed to believe in ourselves?


Sinful nature loves to be the hero of our discipleship; us, not Jesus. We love to be the one who does it right; us, not Jesus. “Lord, You can count on me!” But we knew there was only One you could really count on.  Jesus told us, I DIDN’T COME TO CALL RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE, BUT SINNERS. Jesus told us, IT’S NOT HEALTHY PEOPLE WHO NEED THE DOCTOR; IT’S THE SICK ONES.  But when you really fail Him—I mean when it gets real—when you can’t believe in yourself at all, then it’s easy to say, “I can’t believe again, not the way I did.”  Why? It’s because I found out He was right about me? And somehow I figured that that’s the time to stop trusting Him? But didn’t He tell us we were going to need forgiveness till we left this place? It’s just that when your sinfulness and sickness get real, it’s such a shock and then how can you believe in this huge happy ending for you? 


Except that Jesus Christ is right about everything.  He told them all, IT IS WRITTEN, ‘STRIKE THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHEEP WILL BE SCATTERED,’ BUT YOU WILL SEE ME AGAIN AND YOU WILL REJOICE!  He was right.

 

He said, I’LL GIVE MY LIFE IN RANSOM FOR you.  He was right.  He said He’d pay for us, however wrong, however we’ve burned Him or burned ourselves:  He said, I’LL be ARRESTED, not you.  I’LL get CRUCIFIED, not you.  He was right.   


He told THOMAS and all of them the night before, “Where am I going?  I’M GOING TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU AND I’M GOING TO COME BACK AND BRING YOU WITH ME.  And as a matter of fact, CHRIST IS RISEN!  And He’s right again.  He said, “I WON’T LEAVE YOU LIKE ORPHANS, I’LL COME TO YOU.” 


But, V. 24] THOMAS WASN’T WITH THE DISCIPLES WHEN JESUS CAME.  V. 25] THE OTHER DISCIPLES TOLD HIM, “WE’VE SEEN THE LORD!”  But all THOMAS could see was the wounds, the wounds.  They said, “WE’VE SEEN THE LORD!”  But the spirit of THOMAS says, “How can you say that to me? How can you talk about hope when there isn’t any?” And the grief and the shame and the rage and despair burst out of his gross and cynical mouth:  HE TOLD THEM, “UNLESS I SEE THE NAIL MARKS IN HIS HANDS AND STICK MY FINGER WHERE THE NAILS WERE AND STICK MY HAND INTO HIS SIDE, I WON’T BELIEVE IT!” Which is gross and offensive, but why not say it? It’s not like Jesus could hear him anymore. Could He?  It’s not like Jesus was there anymore. Was He?     


V. 26] A WEEK LATER, HIS DISCIPLES WERE IN THE HOUSE AGAIN AND THOMAS WAS WITH THEM:  I don’t know why he was there.  Maybe there just wasn’t anywhere else to go.  The bigger question is, how come they were still there?  How come they’re not up in Galilee yet? Jesus told them a whole week ago. How come they were still in Jerusalem? Because Jesus was still in Jerusalem.  How come Jesus was still in Jerusalem? Because THOMAS was still in Jerusalem.  And then JESUS CAME. 

 

V. 26] JESUS CAME AND STOOD AMONG THEM AND SAID, “PEACE TO YOU!”  Which means, “Yes, it is all right now.  Yes, it’s going to be okay, now.” It means what it means when we hear it from the Altar. It means: “I forgive you all your sins!”  V. 27] THEN HE TOLD THOMAS, “Now PUT YOUR FINGER HERE.” But how’d He hear Thomas say that?  He said, LOOK AT MY HANDS. But how’d He know?  He wasn’t there, was He?  Was He there?  Jesus said, REACH OUT YOUR HAND AND STICK IT INTO MY SIDE. CHRIST IS RISEN! 


And He said, STOP DOUBTING AND BELIEVE.” It means, “You haven’t been much thus far.  But on the other hand, you’re mine.” It means, “I suffered all things, even death, rather than leave you. How could you think I’d leave without you now?” 


V. 28] THOMAS SAID TO HIM, “MY LORD – which means, “You,  against all hope, only You could surprise me with this joy!”  And it means, “You own me and You are the Savior of my discipleship, AND MY GOD!” which means, “You’re GOD and impossibly You’re MY GOD.”  What a shock when it all gets real!  But that’s just because we’re hardly real—yet.


V. 29] JESUS TOLD HIM, “YOU’VE BELIEVED BECAUSE YOU’VE SEEN ME. Good. But, my children, how much evidence do I have to shove in your face? How many witnesses do we need? He said, BLESSED ARE THE ONES WHO BELIEVE Me AND HAVEN’T SEEN Me yet. It means, “Blessed are the ones who can trust Me out of their sight. Blessed are the ones who know, even when they can’t see a thing, that here I AM IN THE MIDST OF YOU.”  And whether He says that He’ll pay for us or that He’ll rise again and bring us with Him, blessed are the ones who know: He always does what He says. And whether He tells us that we’ll SUFFER, or that our SINS ARE FORGIVEN, blessed are the ones who know: He’s always right. Or when He says, I’LL NEVER LEAVE without YOU, or when He says, YOU WILL SEE ME AND YOU WILL REJOICE—blessed are the ones who know: Everything gets real and He’s right about it all.  Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

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