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Jesus Forgives His Sinners!

April 27, 2014

John 20 Jesus Shows His Wounds

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Second Sunday of Easter                             Trinity Lutheran Church

27 April 2014                                                  Murdock, NE


+ Jesu Juva +


St. John 20:19-31


Whoa!  Who let Him in?  Didn’t you lock the door Thomas?  Oh, that’s right, Thomas isn’t here!  He’s MIA.


Check the door Peter!  What’s that?  The door is still locked?  Double and triple takes.  Eye rubbing.  Eye bulging.  Shocker of shockers!  There He is.  Plain as day.  Not one of the Jews like Caiaphas that they feared – but Jesus!  He got in.  But we thought He was … you know … graveyard dead!


How did He get in?  We had this room on lockdown.  Sealed tighter than a drum.  Lookouts and the whole lockdown shebang.  Yet He still got in!  The fear factor has just gone up big time! Can’t get any more fear-filled in their sin.  No doubt He’s pulling a Clint Eastwood!  A Dirty Harry!  Out for revenge.  Retaliation.  Payback!  That’s got to be it, right?


Has to!  What else could it be?  After all, these fellows genuinely hurt Him.  Let Him down.  Abandoned Him in His deepest need.  Betrayal.  Denials.  Didn’t dare be seen with Him or associated with Him.  Too dangerous.  Discipleship took a back seat. Had to look out for one’s own self-interest.  Take care of Numero Uno!  And they sure did that!  Like any sinner would do.  Including you!  You’re no different.


And so when you’ve been sinned against – you go after the perps.  The offenders.  The sinners.  With gusto!  Liam Neeson, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Mel Gibson like.  Taking down those that knowingly and purposely hurt you.  Pained you.  Harmed you.  Eye for an eye!  Tooth for a tooth!  Tit for tat and all that!


So there He is!  In the locked room of perpetrators.  Who sinned against Him.  Who hurt Him so badly.  Ready to let them have it, right?  Give them the what for, as it should be, right?  Well, that’s what you’d think.  It’s what you’d do.


Then comes the mother of all bombshells.  The utterly unthinkable happens!  Something many would calls completely irresponsible or immoral!  What you never planned for!  What you never expected!  The loud thud you hear are the disciples’ jaws hitting the floor as they hear what comes from Jesus’ crucified but freshly risen from the dead lips.


God-risen-in-the-human-flesh-Jesus … are you ready for this? … FORGIVES THEM!  The massively sinned-against Jesus unloads a startling and astounding sermon of absolution. “Peace be with you,” He declares.  And what He speaks – He gives.  He gives these sinners what He preaches.  “Peace be with you.”  They are forgiven.  He says so.  So they are.  After all, His mouth is God’s mouth.  His words are divine words.  The forgiveness He gives to these sinners is God’s forgiveness.


The “peace,” that is, the divine forgiveness He gives to these celebrity sinners comes from His horrifically bloody Good Friday death on the cross.  “He showed them His hands and His side.”    His divine wounds are showing!  Which means that He died for them too.  He didn’t leave them out.  He didn’t exclude any of their sins from His holy and precious wounded, crucified and sacrificed-on-the-cross Body!


All their fear evaporates.  The absolution creates joy!  “They were glad when they saw the Lord!”  No kidding!  For He is the Lord who dares to do the improbable and impossible – who takes the sin of the world in His body, gives His divine life into death’s damnation, conquers hell, satisfies His Father’s wrath and then rises victoriously to dish out divine forgives to His sinners!


Then from His divine lips comes another, “Peace be with you.”  And with this second “peace” another sermon.  A Holy Spirit filled message.  “As the Father has sent me,” Jesus states, “that is to say, apostled me, so now I send or apostle you.”


With those words Jesus institutes the office of the holy ministry!  He puts them in:  “As the Father has sent me so now I send you.”  Men put into ministerial office are sent to do what?


To forgive sinners their sins!  Your sins.  My sins.  The world’s sins.  Not because you deserve it but because He’s the Savior of sinners. “He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’”


The giving out of what Jesus won or achieved on the cross:  the forgiveness of sins.  Pastors are to tell sinners that their sins are forgiven.


You’re a sinner.  You sin against God.  Against your spouse, children, employer, church members, etc.  Don’t deny it.  Confess it.  Tell the truth.  Don’t be afraid.  It’s OK to die to your sin.  After all, Jesus’ cup of tea is raising the dead!


That’s precisely why Jesus died FOR YOU the sinner.  Don’t purposely withhold any of your sin outside of Jesus’ Good Friday forgiveness.  Seriously!  Don’t try and take from Jesus what He bore in His crucified Body – namely, all your sin.  That’s a hellacious way to live – it’s called unbelief — and it will end in your buying yourself a one-way ticket straight to the place prepared for the devil and all his fallen angels.  You can’t answer for your own sins.  Only Jesus did that.  You can’t forgive yourself.  Jesus does that.


There’s no sin of yours that’s too big for Jesus.  Don’t ever say:  “Well, Jesus could never forgive what I did!  My sin is so unforgiveable!”  Nonsense!  Didn’t you hear what Jesus preached from the cross?  “It is finished!”  He declared.


So it’s time to use Jesus properly.  The way Jesus speaks in the text.  His Good Friday forgiveness is to be given away freely to sinners.  Sinner are to be forgiven.  And you are to believe His words that He speaks to you!  Thomas had to learn this too a week later.  He needed to learn and believe that Jesus bore Thomas’ sins in His own crucified Body.  “Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe Thomas.  Believe that I died for you!  That the blood from My divine wounds purifies you from all sin.”  And then came Thomas’ great confession:  “My Lord and my God!”  Indeed!


Listen very carefully.  Jesus alone does the forgiving.  He’s the only Forgiver.  He does it as He puts His words into the mouths of the pastor or any Christian for that matter.  Notice how the pastor is given to say it in the liturgy:  “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”


Do you realize what this means?  It’s really wonderful.  And it’s all FOR YOU.  Gift from the Lord Jesus.  Jesus sends you a pastor to speak His divine words.  In this case the John 20 words.  The pastor speaks the Jesus words according to His divine mandate in John 20.  As the pastor announces, declares, or preaches the absolution — Jesus Himself is speaking.  Viva Vox Christi (the living voice of Christ) is heard in the absolution!  And Jesus does and gives what He says!  That is to say, YOU TRULY ARE FORGIVEN!


So what do you believe according to these John 20 words of Jesus?  Here’s what you believe.  It’s in the Small Catechism:  “I believe that when the called ministers of Christ deal with us according to His divine command, in particular when they exclude openly unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation and absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better [and here’s the kicker] THIS IS JUST AS VALID AND CERTAIN, EVEN IN HEAVEN, AS IF CHRIST OUR DEAR LORD DEALT WITH US HIMSELF.”


Now, who among you would refuse to give your “Amen” to Christ’s Word of forgiveness?  Treat it as if it’s a nothing?  Is there anyone here who wants me to exclude you from Jesus’ Good Friday forgiveness and therefore this Christian congregation?  If you insist on it, I guess I’ll do it.  Anybody here who purposely and stubbornly wants to hang on to their sin and keep it from Jesus?  Anyone?  Bueller?  No?  Wonderful!


So I’ve been sent by the Lord Jesus to forgive your sins.  And that’s what you want, right?  You’re hungry for the gospel, right?


Boy I am glad to hear that!  I’m going to hand it out.  Not going to fool around anymore. And I want your “Amen” at the end.




Listen for more of the red-hot core of the gospel in the Lord’s Supper in the unique way He gives it.  Bread-Body.  Wine-Blood.  And the divine promise:  “Given and shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of YOUR SINS!”  Make sure to give your “Amen” there too.  After all, “by believing you have life in His [Jesus’] Name.” 


Good thing Jesus just shows up.  Pops in.  Unannounced.  Comes right into our midst.  Gathers us around Himself with His words.  I don’t think we have the doors locked do we?  Even if we did that wouldn’t stop Him.  He sees to it that His forgiveness words are spoken to you His sinners.  No need to fear Him.  He’s all about Good Friday gospel-ing you.  Thomas’ believing confession is now your confession as Jesus forgives you in the absolution, sermon and Sacrament.  “My Lord and my God!”


He certainly is!  What a Lord and God!  What joy!


In the Name of Jesus.





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