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Second Sunday of Easter

April 8, 2018 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Easter

Passage: John 20:19–20:31

†††In the Name of Jesus†††

Pastor Murray Keith
Text: John 20:19-31
Date: April 8th, 2018; Easter 2; Series B

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

  • In this morning’s Gospel lesson we heard about one of Jesus’ disciples who has become known as “Doubting Thomas”.

  • When Jesus said that he was going to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house, it was Thomas who asked, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  (John 14:5).

  • When the disciples came to Thomas with the news that they had seen Jesus risen from the dead, it was Thomas who said, “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” (John 20:25). 

  • He said this even though he had heard Jesus say at least three times that he would die on a cross and on the third day rise again.

  • Our text picks up on Easter Sunday evening - the first day of the week. 

  • The word about Jesus’ resurrection was circulating and the disciples were hiding behind locked doors.  They were afraid.  

  • There would be investigations and interrogations and the same people who crucified Jesus would surely come after them.  Their fear is understandable.

  • Suddenly, Jesus appeared among them.  

  • He didn’t climb through the window or knock at the door.  He simply appeared.  He’s the Lord and he can do that. 

  • “Peace be with you” are the first words out of Jesus’ mouth.

  • And unlike our words, his words carry divine weight.  They do what they say.

  • Just as they did in the beginning of Genesis where God spoke and it was so.  

  • “Let there be light,” and light there is.  “Peace be with you,” and peace there is. 

  • This is peace that the world cannot give.  

  • This is the peace Jesus promised to his disciples before his death.  

  • This is the peace we have because of his death.    

  • Jesus showed them his hands and his side.  His wounds, the marks of his death, are the source of his peace. 

  • By his death, he conquered sin and death.  

  • By his death he won reconciliation for the world.  

  • By his death comes a peace that surpasses our understanding.

  • The sorrow and fear the disciples experienced quickly evaporated when Jesus appeared among them – his words and wounds brought them peace and joy.

  • “Peace be with you…” (John 20:21).  

  • Jesus said it again, but this time he adds more.

  • “Peace be with you.  As the Father sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). 

  • He then breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). 

  • This is their ordination.  With his words and his breath, Jesus ordains them to be his authorized representatives, to speak in his stead and by his command. 

  • And what he speaks and what he wants heard is the reason he entered this world to suffer and die – forgiveness.

  • He wants forgiveness to be spoken and given, “If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld” (John 20:23).  

  • The forgiveness spoken by the apostles is Jesus’ forgiveness.

  • The forgiveness that I, as your pastor, speak to you is also Jesus’ forgiveness.

  • Not because I am special – I am a sinner like everyone else.

  • The forgiveness that I speak to you is the forgiveness of Jesus because he has  given the Office of Holy Ministry this authority.

  • Though you only see and hear a fellow sinner standing before you when I speak the words of Absolution,  the words of forgiveness I speak, are from God himself. 

  • It is authorized by the Lord himself.  It is his office, his words, his breath, his Spirit.

  • Through this Office instituted by Jesus sins forgiven and retained.  

  • We call it the “Office of the Keys” - the keys that lock and unlock heaven itself by applying the forgiveness that Jesus won for you with his words.

  • The words “I forgive you all of your sins” spoken in the stead and by the command of the Lord Jesus Christ are the surest words there are on earth. 

  • They come by way of the cross and the tomb.  

  • They come with Jesus’ breath in view of his wounds.  

  • They justify the sinner.  They are words of eternal life!

  • Thomas wasn’t there that first Easter Sunday evening, so the other disciples told him what happened.

  • Thomas refused to believe.  

  • In fact, he said, “Unless I touch his hands and side, there’s no way I’ll ever believe it” (John 20:25). 

  • That’s not doubt. That’s simply unbelief.

  • But fortunately for Thomas, he was there the next Sunday. 

  • And again Jesus appeared to them.  And again he showed them his wounds – the nail marks, the spear mark. 

  • 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” (John 20:27).  

  • And Thomas believed and confessed what he believed: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). 

  • Notice that Thomas never got around to touching the wounds as he said he wanted to do. 

  • Faith doesn’t come by touch.  Faith comes by hearing. 

  • We don’t cause or choose our faith.  We don’t make a decision to have faith. 

  • Jesus gives us the gift of our faith with his words.

  • After hearing Jesus’ words, Doubting Thomas, the unbelieving skeptic becomes “Thomas the Believer”.

  • “Have you believed because you have seen me?” Jesus asked Thomas (John 20:29). 

  • The answer is no. 

  • God’s Word is what makes faith happen.  

  • Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). 

  • Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and believe it and cling to it.

  • Blessed are you, here this morning.  

  • You have the Word of Jesus and you have the faith that it has created. 

  • St. John tells us that, “…these [things] 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 20:31). 

  • The same Word that created faith in Thomas also stirs-up, strengthens, and sustains your faith. 

  • With “Believing Thomas”, you have the faith that receives all of the promises God has accomplished through Christ Jesus – forgiveness, peace, and eternal life.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Easter

May 13, 2018

Seventh Sunday of Easter

May 6, 2018

Sixth Sunday of Easter

April 29, 2018

Fifth Sunday of Easter