SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER – APRIL 3, 2016
TEXTS: JOHN 20-19-31; 1 JOHN 5:4-10; EZEK. 37:1-14
PEACE AND BLESSEDNESS ARE YOURS
FROM THE CRUCIFIED AND RISEN CHRIST!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Alleluia Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Grace to you and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ our risen Lord. Amen.


The Gospels are brutally honest about the doubt of the disciples that first Easter. Incredible doubt infected and surrounded everyone! They were all locked in on what they could see and feel – not on what Jesus had said and done. They were all locked in on what they had failed to do in standing with Him and not on what Jesus was faithfully doing and fulfilling in His promises to them.


Fresh from the grave – standing amid their locked-in fear – the risen Christ spoke healing and forgiving words of release. “Peace be with you.” No make-believe peace – this! No fleeting peace of emotional feeling! This is purchased peace – purchased with His blood. This is objective, outside of you, in-the-heart-of-God-toward-you - bestowed-upon-you peace. This is peace that the world cannot give. “Peace be with you.”

They had heard from the women conveying Jesus’ command for them to go to Galilee (Mt. 28:10). Peter and John ran to inspect and saw the linen cloths and the folded head cloth in His open and empty grave (John 20:5-10). Yet when Easter evening comes they are still locked in for fear of the Jews. Outside danger continues to rage – but to their alarm over the possible threat of death Jesus said, “Peace be with you.” To their hearts locked in by the shame of their failure and desertion He said, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Dr. Luther said they were glad with the greatest joy the human heart can feel – that is, Therefore, since we have been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).










SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER – APRIL 3, 2016
TEXTS: JOHN 20-19-311 JOHN 5:4-10EZEK. 37:1-14
PEACE AND BLESSEDNESS ARE YOURS
FROM THE CRUCIFIED AND RISEN CHRIST!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Alleluia Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Grace to you and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ our risen Lord. Amen.


The Gospels are brutally honest about the doubt of the disciples that first Easter. Incredible doubt infected and surrounded everyone! They were all locked in on what they could see and feel – not on what Jesus had said and done. They were all locked in on what they had failed to do in standing with Him and not on what Jesus was faithfully doing and fulfilling in His promises to them.


Fresh from the grave – standing amid their locked-in fear – the risen Christ spoke healing and forgiving words of release. “Peace be with you.” No make-believe peace – this! No fleeting peace of emotional feeling! This is purchased peace – purchased with His blood. This is objective, outside of you, in-the-heart-of-God-toward-you - bestowed-upon-you peace. This is peace that the world cannot give. “Peace be with you.”


They had heard from the women conveying Jesus’ command for them to go to Galilee (Mt. 28:10). Peter and John ran to inspect and saw the linen cloths and the folded head cloth in His open and empty grave (John 20:5-10). Yet when Easter evening comes they are still locked in for fear of the Jews. Outside danger continues to rage – but to their alarm over the possible threat of death Jesus said, “Peace be with you.” To their hearts locked in by the shame of their failure and desertion He said, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Dr. Luther said they were glad with the greatest joy the human heart can feel – that is, Therefore, since we have been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).


In His gift of peace, Jesus also gave them their vocation as His apostles. His forgiveness was for them. His forgiveness was also for others through them. He said to them again, “Peace be with you.” As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven: if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.” His gift is for anyone and everyone – for all together – anyone and everyone is thrown under sin and locked up. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.


Dear Christians, fresh from the grave the risen Christ speaks and acts as if sin is the biggest problem in the world and in those who are His. It’s as if Jesus’ bloody sacrifice was for this very purpose cleansing us from sin. What’s more – it’s as if the work of those Jesus sends out is to be solely focused on forgiving and retaining sins. It’s as if the word they speak is as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself. “If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven: if you withhold forgiveness from anyone it is withheld.” Fresh from the grave Jesus is crystal clear concerning the center of His church’s life!


Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe. Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Dr. Luther preached here that Thomas might be seen as obstinate and defiant and that the human heart can be the hardest thing – beyond all steel and diamond. In the next breath Luther preached that when the human heart is fearful and despondent and weak – no water or oil is as weak.


The once-for-all-sacrifice for sin had been made! Sin had been washed away! The seal of the grave had been broken! Man had been reconciled to God in Christ! Innocence had been restored to the fallen! Yet, Thomas, the Twin, had been paralyzed in doubt and fear for eight days. However defiant he appeared – in reality he was defeated – going nowhere – convinced God was his enemy. In that dark place he had uttered a challenging word – “Unless.”


Enter again the risen Christ. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” His freeing message had not been changed by the doubts of Thomas! See how He deals with the weak! “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas was invited to read like Braille the wounds of spear and nail testifying to his redemption. Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”


From a doubting and testing – “Unless I see,” Thomas now utters a glorious confession of faith – “My Lord and my God!” Yes Thomas – this is what God’s grace in the flesh looks like. Jesus directs him to His hands and side – and their testimony of His sacrifice for sin. Into that locked room Jesus came with no blustering and no blaming – but gently – totally occupied with delivering His disciples from sin.

 

Jesus said to him, “have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Dear Christians – the word Jesus here uses to identify and describe you cannot be overvalued. That word “blessed” in Scripture is rich with meaning. In the Old Testament it always refers to a person, never a thing. It clearly denotes fullness of life! In the New Testament the use of the word “blessed” is quite common, but its meaning is uncommon. Nothing compares to the approval and goodness and fortune it conveys! While it was sometimes used in secular Greek, the Holy Spirit caused a transformation and ennobling of its meaning in order to set forth a new thing!

 

In view of the incarnation of Christ and His reconciling work, “blessed” now indicates the tension of living in the new creation and yet at the same time in a sinful world. It invites those who hear it to view their present life in light of their eternal future. The word “Blessed” is therefore heavy with uniqueness and strangeness. It boldly reverses earthly values and false estimations of blessedness.


The world assumes - Blessed are you when you are well thought of by all – when you know how to go along and get along in any circumstance. Jesus says - Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. The world proposes – Blessed are the proud – the makers and the takers for your worth is determined by what you can get. Jesus says – Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. This meekness has to do with faith in Christ. The inheritance is the new heavens and the new earth. The world suggests - Blessed are the spiritually self-sufficient – those who have weighed their lives and see no lack in their own strength – no need for salvation. Jesus says - Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The word He used is the same word used for the beggar Lazarus (Lk 16:20, 22). He is saying “Blessed are those who see their bankruptcy before My holiness and mourning their sin are comforted by My grace and mercy.


In the new creation the Son of God reverses false estimates of blessedness. Risen from the grave – confronting doubt with flesh and blood proof of His crucifixion and His resurrection He wondrously says, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. In that light – Blessed are you! You have not seen the risen Christ face to face as did the disciples and Thomas. Yet you believe and confess Him as Your Savior from sin. Jesus’ words are for you - Blessed are you! It’s as if He is saying – “Fortunate are you in the highest degree! I can give you no more in this passing world then you possess through faith in me.”

 

So you do not always feel so blessed? So you have your doubts? So your conscience isn’t so sure about your blessed standing? Thoughts like these may percolate for sin is still the biggest problem in the world and in you who are His. Like Thomas was paralyzed in doubt and fear so we can believe we are defeated in our weakness – convinced we are going nowhere and even, at times, that God is our enemy. We are so easily locked in on what we can see and feel. The same limiting and challenging word Thomas spoke can circle in our heart and mind if not pour forth from our lips. “Unless” – unless things change – unless this hurt is removed – unless I see and feel specific relief in what seems to lock me in, how can I know that God is for me?

 

But see how the risen Lord deals with the weak and locked in – Peace be with you! His strength is made perfect in weakness. See how the risen Christ removed the doubts of Thomas – directing Him to the marks of His sacrifice – to the depth of His love. Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side. While you cannot touch Jesus in the same manner as Thomas did, He comes to touch you in a most loving manner today with the fruits of His sacrifice. With His body He feeds you – Take, eat. With His blood He gives you to drink – drink of it all of you. He did not baptize you to leave you locked-in to this world’s limited reach of blessedness. He does not absolve you to leave you uncertain and afraid of your standing – as if Satan’s accusations can possibly undo the cleansing power of His blood. For there are three that testify: The Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.


In your midst He comes, not visibly, but physically. Those He sends are to speak His words of release. His gift of peace is rich – His absolution is total – working to free hearts from an imprisoning “unless I see” to a glorious My Lord and my God!


Blessed are those who sins are forgiven (Psalm 31:1, 2). Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9). Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Blessed are you!

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a