Monday, April 8, 2013

Sermon for Easter 2: "Jesus' Word and Wounds Bring You Peace"

+ 2nd Sunday of Easter – April 7th, 2013 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series C: Acts 5:12-20; Rev. 1:4-18; John 20:19-31

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John’s words may sound like the conclusion of the Gospel. But John’s not just a closing pitcher. He goes the full nine innings. John ends his gospel the way it begins. Take a listen:

9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

So John’s the closer and the opener. But his words are also the constant, echoing refrain throughout the gospel – the steady fastball that delivers strikeout after strikeout. Why are John’s words so important?

Because in reality these aren’t really John’s words. To be sure, he wrote them. But John’s a lot like pastors today – he’s a messenger, a mouthpiece, a megaphone for repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Notice he doesn’t have much to say about himself. In fact he’s so concerned about not making the gospel about himself that he simply refers to himself as, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” or the” other disciple.” John must decrease. Jesus Crucified and Risen must increase.

In a few sentences John not only summarizes Easter and Holy Week, but also every sign, word, and teaching of Jesus. All to deliver Jesus Crucified and Risen for your salvation right into your ears.  

For “Faith comes by hearing”(Romans 10:17).  That’s why the church and her ministry aren’t about what’s pleasing to the eyes, catchy or entertaining before men. The eyes of faith are your ears. So ignore the flashy, neon-sign Christianity and look to the one sign – the true light - that really matters and saves you: Jesus’ Crucified for you. Jesus risen from the dead for you.
These words are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Jesus’ Word brings you peace.
Peace. Shalom in the Hebrew. It means fullness, wholeness. A perfect, complete, all-is-well kind of peace. That’s what the Lord had intended the Sabbath day to be like before the Fall, before rebellion, sin, and death. Jesus’ death on the cross has restored peace between your Creator and you, His creature. Peace between the Father and you, His wayward children. In Christ, are reconciled to God.

On that first Easter night, the disciples needed Jesus’ word of peace. After His death some denied, others ran, but they all hid. Even after hearing the women’s eyewitness report: “He’s risen!” Even after seeing the empty tomb. They were still afraid. Locked behind closed doors. Disbelieving. It wasn’t just Thomas. It was all of them.
Sin does the same thing to you and me as it did to the disciples. We want to run and conceal our guilt like Adam and Eve foolishly hiding in the fig bushes. Sin causes us to fear, love and trust in ourselves. Sin locks us in prison.

“Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.”
Jesus breaks into their little prison house of fear, newly risen from the dead. “Peace be with you,” He declares. His words give what they say: Peace. With His words come the visible sign – His hands and His feet, pierced by the nails. This is the very same Jesus who hung dead on the cross. He has the marks to prove it.

And just as the locked doors of the upper room were no obstacle to the crucified and risen Lord, so too the locked rooms of our sinful lives are no match for Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus breaks into your prison, bursts the bars of death from the inside, finds you, rescues you and speaks to you: Peace be with you.

Jesus Words and his wounds bring you peace.
That sin you tried so hard to cover is buried in the wounds of Jesus. That guilt you tried so hard to remove is washed away in the blood of the Lamb. That death that stares you in the face has been died for by Jesus. That unbelief that nags and gnaws at you and never seems to leave, is blown away by a simple, yet life-giving, Word, Jesus’ Word: peace be with you. Jesus’ Word and wounds bring you peace.

Why then does He show them the wounds if he’s risen? Isn’t that Good Friday stuff? Because the cross is always at the center of the Christian faith, even at Easter. Especially at Easter. Good Friday and Easter are two sides of the salvation coin. By his dying, He has destroyed death. And by His rising, He restores us to everlasting life. As Jesus proclaims to you in Revelation: “Fear not,” Jesus says, “I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

Even in his resurrection Jesus still proclaims His cross: “See my hands and my side…”  It’s no different in the Church, Christ’s cross marks everything we say and do. We preach Christ Crucified even as we rejoice in Christ’s resurrection.
For us – as it was for the disciples - the sacrifice of Christ Crucified is never simply a past event. Christ’s death is always a visible, tangible, present reality. He showed them his hands and his side. He shows you the same thing here in the Lord’s Supper: His Word and His wounds are open to give you peace. Here you receive the first fruits of His death. Even your Baptism is no simple metaphor. Daily you’re drowned in your sin and daily you rise to new life. Daily you’re buried with Christ and daily you rise with Him.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
As He once breathed over the waters of creation in the beginning, as He once breathed into the nostrils of Adam turning his lifeless clay into a living being. As He once breathed life into the valley of dry bones, Jesus breaths on His disciples.

Out of Jesus’ death and resurrection flows the apostolic ministry and apostolic church. Jesus sends His disciples as His apostles, His sent ones (that’s what apostle means after all). They’re sent to make forgiveness audible to those who have not seen. This is why Jesus sends pastors to His church. This is why Christ has a church in the first place, that forgiveness of sins would be preached and heard and believed and lived. God isn’t concerned whether or not we’re entertained on Sunday, or even if we feel “spiritually uplifted” (whatever that means). Jesus wants you to hear that your sins are forgiven in Jesus’ Name.  He wants to give you something concrete and tangible to believe, something outside of your selves, namely, that Jesus died for your sins and that He was raised for your justification.

So He opens His mouth and speaks His peace-be-with-you-Word. And He opens His wounds to heal you.  Jesus’ Word and wounds bring you peace.
So, rejoice and be glad. Join the disciples in their wonder and amazement. Join King David in singing, I was glad when they said to me, let us go up to the house of the Lord.”

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go up to Redeemer. Let us go up to the Divine Service. Let us go up where Jesus’ words and His wounds are given to you.” Are you troubled? Afraid? Imprisoned by guilt and sin? Crying out with the centurion, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief?” Then you’re in the right place. Hear the words of your Savior in the liturgy, spoken from the altar, where the Body and the Blood of Christ are there for you to eat and drink: “Peace be with you.”

But don’t come alone. Bring your neighbors, family members, and friends you know are hurting and need Jesus Word and wounds to heal them. Bring them here to the one place you can guarantee Jesus’ Word and wounds continue bring you peace.

Peace be with you in His absolution: Go your way, your sins are forgiven. Peace be with you in the waters and promises of your Holy Baptism: you are cleansed, holy, and clothed in Christ’s death and resurrection. Peace be with you as you eat and drink Jesus’ body and blood.

Today we join Thomas and kneel before the Crucified and Risen Lord. His body and blood are here. Eat. Drink. Touch. Taste. Hear. The Peace of the Lord’s body and blood be with you always. Here we join Thomas in confessing: “My Lord and my God.”

In Jesus’ Word and His wounds: You are forgiven. You are free. You have life in Jesus’ Name. Peace be with you.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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