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Having Good Use of Easter!

April 28, 2019

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Second Sunday of Easter                        Trinity Lutheran Church

28 April 2019                                             Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

 

John 20:19-31

 

Today we learn how to have good use of Easter. Salvific good use, that is. What is this salvific good use of the Lord’s bodily resurrection from the dead?

 

Before I give you the answer from the text today, we have to have a heart to heart. A pastor to congregation heart to heart. The answer has become so ho-hum to us Lutherans that I fear we no longer have a hunger for it. I fear we have become so blasé to Scripture, especially John 20, that we do not put Easter to good use either from ignorance, immaturity, apathy, or “disbelief”.

 

What do I mean? Scripture categorically teaches that we are sinners. Conceived and born as sinners. Psalm 51. We have inherited Adam’s sin and his sinful condition. Romans 5. We sin not only by what we do but also by what we don’t do. We sin in thought, word and deed. Learn the Ten Commandments. Sin comes from the heart. Matthew 15. The wages of sin is death: physical death as well as spiritual death or damnation. Romans 6.

 

If you don’t believe you’re a sinner, then you don’t need who and what? Yes, that’s right. You don’t need Jesus as the Savior who not only won and achieved forgiveness of sins on the cross but who also delivers and bestows the forgiveness of sins to sinners! If you don’t think you’re a sinner who needs Savior of sinners Jesus, then you’d better repent! You’d better have a different mind and heart spelled

F-A-I-T-H! PDQ! Otherwise there are those words of our Lord from John 20 that would apply to the unrepentant: “if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”  In other words, if you don’t want Christ’s forgiveness, He won’t force you. If you insist on living outside of His Good Friday redeeming work, then that’s the way it will be. But I warn you. You’ll have to do that over His dead but risen body! And what a gargantuan-ly hellish task that will be!

 

However, when you believe that you are a sinner and what that all spiritually entails (which I’ve just reviewed with you) and when you also believe that Jesus is your Good Friday and Easter Sunday Savior, then you will eagerly and regularly want the forgiveness He gives. Jesus will not absent Himself from sinners. He will not be divorced from those He redeemed. He will be cemented to them in His forgiveness and faith that trusts His Word of absolution.

 

So, quite simply, having good use of Easter is YOU, the sinner being given the forgiveness of your sins and believing it with your heart. Receiving the absolution Sunday after Sunday is putting Easter to good use. Easter’s salvific good use is FOR YOU to receive the Good-Friday-won forgiveness of sins in the way of the Lord’s mandate and institution here in John 20.

 

Check it out. The crucified and risen Jesus stands in the midst of His disciples. Sinners. One and all! Especially Peter the denier and Thomas the “disbelieving” one. They tremble at the reality of their sin and the paycheck that their sin earns – death! Their consciences are troubled. They rightly deserve God’s temporal and eternal punishment. Apart from Jesus their present and future situation with God because of their sin remains only hellish. Without Jesus they have no salvational peace before God.

 

So Jesus comes to them. They don’t go to Him. They’ve locked themselves in room and they’re petrified with fear. And what does Jesus do with Peter, Thomas and the rest of these sinners? Does He give them what they deserve for their sin against Him? I would. But Jesus doesn’t. He refuses to do that.

 

Instead, He forgives them. Pardons them. After all, He is as we heard from Revelation 1, the Savior “who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.” From His own mouth freshly risen from the grave He absolves them with His word of “Peace be with you.”

 

Jesus is unlike any preacher in the world. Unlike most preachers who affirm, indulge and even celebrate and want people to desire sin, Jesus preaches and gives forgiveness FOR SIN! He forgives the hardcore and real sin of actual flesh and blood sinners like Peter, Thomas and the others. In His speaking, “Peace be with you” He forgives their sin. God is at peace with them because He crucifixion-ly died for them. God is at peace with them because Jesus speaks His Good Friday forgiveness to them. His “peace” does and gives that it says.

 

Their dread turns to joy. They are forgiven. How do they know? Again, it is because He says so. And His word of forgiveness is based on His gory, bloody, sacrificial and all atoning for sin and death on the cross: “He showed them His hands and His side.” His Good Friday wounds and scars are showing! He is not ashamed to exhibit them. He wants all to see them and what they mean for them. The wounds! Remember what 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.” Yes, His hands and side! This is where the peace-with-God-forgiveness-of sins comes from! His death – even for them!

 

Then Jesus has good use of His forgiven disciples. He charges and authorizes them as His sent ones, His apostles, to forgive others as He has forgiven them. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” So, if anyone ever asked any of the apostles, “By what authority?” Or “Who sent you?” The answer was always: “The crucified and risen Jesus! He sent me! I speak for Him!”

 

Jesus equips them for their task by giving them the Holy Spirit. “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” And then He assigns the task. Absolution. “If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven.” Christ’s forgiveness is to be lavishly bestowed.

 

When sinners are forgiven for Jesus’ sake Easter is put to good use! Or when you receive the forgiveness of sins and believe that you are forgiven only because Jesus died for you, then you’re having a continual beneficial use of His resurrection.

 

John 20 is the mandate and institution passage for the church to have pastors and for the pastors to do this specific task. It’s why Jesus put me here at Trinity, Murdock. I’m here to tell you that you are forgiven for Jesus’ sake and I am here to tell you to believe it. Earlier I did it quite formally by declaring: “as a called and ordained servant of Christ and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

 

Remember, it’s not my forgiveness that I’m speaking. It’s Christ’s! It’s His forgiveness and it’s His forgiving. He is the FORGIVER! The absolution is the viva vox Christi – the living voice of MY LORD and MY GOD Christ! Thomas would insist on you believing this and he would remind you of the Lord’s words to him, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

Just in case you’re saying to yourself, “By whose authority does Kuhlman say such a thing?” the answer is I do it according to Jesus’ authority. He sent me. He sent me to speak the absolution. John 20! “As the Father has sent me, so now I send you … If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven.”

 

The Lord has good use of you too in speaking and bestowing His Good-Friday-won forgiveness of sins. He has taught you to pray: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As Jesus has forgiven you of everything, so now you similarly forgive those who have sinned against you.

 

You too, because of the Lord’s forgiving you, will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those that sin against you. And as you do that, the Lord is using you as His instruments to bless and absolve sinners. After all, as Revelation 1 taught Jesus has “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.”  And His kingdom is all about the giving of forgiveness to one another. Letting loose His Good Friday absolution through your mouths into the ears and hearts of sinners, so that God’s holy name is hallowed among us, so that His kingdom grows among us and so that His will is done among us all the more.

 

Now, let’s push this having good use of Easter even further. Clinch it.   It will be quick because I’ve been so long winded. I promise.

 

The forgiveness of sins or the absolution will bear ultimate fruit in the future to you the believer. And what are such benefits? It’s eternal Easter fruit! It is the resurrection of your body and the life everlasting.

 

In other words, the absolution that you hear and believe every Sunday carries the Lord’s promise of bodily resurrection and eternal life. Jesus, who forgives you all your sin, will not abandon your body to death and the grave. After all, He is the first fruits of them that sleep! Forgiven you will be raised bodily from the grave on the Last Day. Eternal life is yours.

 

That’s ultimate Easter joy! The ultimate salvific good use of Easter! And it’s all FOR YOU because of Jesus!

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

 

 

 

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