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Blessed Are You Who Believe!

April 7, 2013

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Second Sunday of Easter                                   Trinity Lutheran Church

7 April 2013                                                          Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

St. John 20:19-31

“Thomas!  We’ve seen the Lord who is the First and the Last!  The Alpha and the Omega.  Who is, who was, and who is to come.  The Almighty.  The Living One.  Who holds the keys of death and Hades.  He was dead but now lives forever and ever.  We saw his wounds.  But He’s no longer grave yard dead.  He’s risen.  Thomas.  We’ve seen Him!  We’ve seen the Lord!”

You remember Thomas the twin.  Wasn’t there with that little congregation in the locked room when the risen Jesus showed up.  When the Lord flashed His wounds and revealed what His death meant for them.

With His wounds showing Jesus speaks a word of “Peace.”  His Word does and gives what it says.  A Holy Spirit filled-forgiveness.  A full-blown absolution.  Delivered personally.  Privately if you will.  The doors were locked remember?  And He just came right on it!  In the midst of this little frightened congregation.

All sin forgiven by Jesus brings great joy.  Peter’s denials.  The others who ran.  Everything is forgiven.  Really!  Truly!  What delight!  He says so!  Better tell Thomas.  He’d be glad to hear it too.  “Thomas!  We’ve seen the Lord!”

Thomas doubts what he hears.  Being told isn’t good enough for him.  Wants more than words.  Proof.  Evidence.  Seeing is believing.  “You say you’ve seen Him? Really?  Well, I haven’t.  I want to see His mangled but raised from the dead body.  The nail holes.  The gash.  Call me an USDA meat inspector, but unless I handle his wounds and examine them up close I cannot trust what you say.”

A week goes by.  The disciples are in the same house.  This time Twin Thomas is there.  The doors are locked tight again. But that’s no obstacle for the Lord.  He comes right on in again.  Doesn’t even knock!  Stands in the middle of them all and declares:  “Peace be with you!”  Again, He speaks the words of forgiveness.  Absolution.  His death and resurrection means that they are all forgiven!  So He preaches it to them!  What would you expect the Savior to say?  Would you expect anything else?

Oh, I know.  You think Jesus should let Thomas have it.  In fact, Thomas is the perfect candidate on which to exercise the binding key for the first time in church history.  “Got a doubter in our midst do we? Doesn’t trust what the other apostles have told him about seeing Me raised from the grave? All right, then, Thomas.  You’re kicked out of My Church!  You go straight to hell. Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.00.  Peter!  I’ve given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  Bind this Thomas.  Lock him out of my kingdom!  After all, what you bind on earth I’ll bind in heaven.”

Isn’t that what Jesus should do with Thomas?  No.  No.  No.  The words are “Peace be with you.”  What He said a week earlier still counts.  Even for Thomas.  No excommunication.  No call for the church bouncers.  That’s not what Jesus or His church are all about.  He’s quite bullish on bestowing the forgiveness that He won and achieved in His bloody Good Friday dying.

Jesus will preach to Twin Thomas.  He wants Thomas to believe what he’s heard.  Closed and locked doors were no problem for the Lord.  Do you think an apostle’s unbelief would be?  Of course not!

“Check me out Thomas.  Put your finger here.  Nail holes aren’t they?  They go all the way through.  Go ahead Thomas.  These are my crucified hands.  And they hold you in my forgiveness.  Don’t stop there.  Give me your hand.  Feel the gash?  Yes, that’s it.  Right here in my side.  Quite gaping isn’t it?  From which my divine Blood gushed out!  Flowed.  Poured.  To cover all sin and cleanse every sinner!  To holy the impure!  To purify the polluted!  Thomas, my blood was shed even for you.  Stop all this doubting.  Put an end to all you bloviating and believe what you’re told.”

The Lord’s words have their way with Thomas.  He is repented.  He is faithed!  “My Lord and my God!”  Thomas finally listens.  He finally believes.  Sees the crucified and risen Lord.  His hands and His side.  Deep were His wounds.  The wounds of Calvary.  The Cross.  For his salvation.  For yours.

Blessed are you members of Trinity.  Jesus says so.  Not because you’ve SEEN and believed.  But because YOU HAVE NOT SEEN.  You’ve heard the witness of the apostles:  “We have seen the Lord!” and believe.

Jesus did loads of other miracles John says.  But John didn’t write them all down.  If he did I suppose his Gospel would be too long winded and we might miss the point.

And the point is this:  That Jesus is the Christ, the Savior.  He is the Son of God.  He died FOR YOU.  He rose FOR YOU.  Believe in Him.   Trust in Him.  Forgiveness is always yours.  It was for Thomas.  Let’s no longer call him doubting Thomas but believing Thomas.

Seeing the risen Lord like Thomas you’ve not been given.  However, You’ve been given to hear to His voice in the  “Peace be with you.”

You will soon hear the Pax Domini in the liturgy.  These are the Lord’s Words.  He’s speaking to you in His words.  And His words give to you what they say:  peace/forgiveness.

Then there’s the joyful eating and drinking.  Touching and handling things unseen.  But the Lord’s words tell us what you’re given and what it’s for:  with the bread Christ gives you His crucified and risen Body to eat with your mouth.  And with the cup of wine He gives you His Good Friday and Easter Blood to drink with you mouth.  And more:  He promises that your sin is forgiven:  “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

Would you dare to doubt or not believe these words and preaching?  Would you be so audacious as to pull a doubting Thomas?  Don’t!  Stop doubting!  And believe!  Eat and drink!  He’s risen!  He’s physically here FOR YOU in the Sacrament.  You could lock the doors and He’d still show up to bestow His peace – His holy Spirited forgiveness!  In the absolution!  In the sermon!  In the Supper!  So

Blessed are you.  You hear the words “for you” and you believe.  You are forgiven.  Freed from your sins by Christ’s holy Blood.  You have life in His Name.

He is your Lord!  He is your God!

Happy believing in Jesus.   The peace of the Lord be with you all.

In Jesus’ Name.

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