170423 John 20:19-31

Last Updated on Monday, 24 April 2017 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: John 20:19-31
Theme: Peace Be With You!

Two weeks ago, as we celebrated Palm Sunday, we talked about the peace that Jesus alone is able to offer because he is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Last Sunday, as Pastor Pagels shared with us the sermon of the angel on that first Easter, we heard the message of peace: "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay." Today, our living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, comes to each one of us and says: "PEACE BE WITH YOU!" From our look into God's Word today we will see that THIS PEACE IS OFFERED TO US BY OUR RISEN LORD and that THIS PEACE MOTIVATES US TO DO THE RISEN LORD'S WORK.

The portion of God's Word before us picks up the events of the first Easter Sunday. By this time, the risen Lord has already appeared to several people, including Mary Magdelene and two of his followers on the road to Emmaus. Despite the numerous reports that Jesus was alive, still the disciples are hiding in fear. John tells us that they were afraid of what the Jews might try to do to them, since they were followers of Jesus. In fact, they are so afraid that they have the door locked, trying to prevent anyone from entering the room.

Suddenly, the risen Lord appears to them! To clam all their fears, to answer any doubts that he was alive, Jesus says to them: "Peace be with you!" After saying this, we read: "he showed them his hands and side." The Savior showed the disciples that he really was alive. He shows them the marks left on his body from the punishment that brought them peace. After it sank in that it really was Jesus standing before them, John tells us that "the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord." The disciples' fear and doubts were now turned to joy.

The risen Savior silenced the fear and doubts of the disciples on that first Easter evening. But one of them was missing. The disciple who has gone down in history known as "Doubting Thomas" was not there that first Easter evening. It is interesting to note that the original Greek language tells us that it was not simply a matter of a weak faith, doubting whether or not Jesus had risen. Thomas demonstrated a stubborn unbelief. After hearing all the eyewitness testimony of the other disciples, Thomas said, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." A more literal translation of Thomas' words is: "I will never believe!" Thomas refused to believe that Jesus was alive.

So, moved by his love, the living Savior appears again to the disciples a week later. Again he uses the same, familiar phrase, "Peace be with you!" Then, in love for him, the Lord calls out Thomas. We notice two things that the Savior did for Thomas that day: First, he repeated the very demands Thomas had made. Jesus said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side." Secondly, the Lord calls Thomas back from his unbelief. He says to Thomas, "Stop doubting and believe." In other words, Jesus was saying, "Thomas, stop this stubborn unbelief of yours!" With these simple words, the Lord silenced the doubts of Thomas and brought him peace.

The Gospel writer John offers one more way the risen Lord offers his peace. John tells us why he wanted to write his Gospel: "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written 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 reminds us that his writing is much more than just a history of some person's life. It is much more than just some stories told about a great person. The reason we have God's written Word, is because it is only in the pages of the Bible that we read and learn about our Savior. It is only through the inspired Word of God, which John's Gospel is a part of, that faith is created in our hearts, that the forgiveness Christ won becomes our own, and that eternal life becomes our possession.


The risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ says to you and me today, "Peace be with you!" Enjoy the peace that only he is able to offer you. Peace which is able to calm all your fears, and silence all your doubts. Perhaps you have fear or doubt that, because of a certain sin or sins, there is no way you can ever be forgiven or loved by the Savior. To you, the risen Lord says, "Peace be with you!" The price for all your sins was paid for in full as he gave up his body and shed his blood on the cross!


Perhaps your human reason is causing you to doubt what really happened that first Easter. Although we can't visibly see our Savior, and reach out and touch him like the disciples, yet through the working of God the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, you and I believe in Jesus as the risen Lord and Savior. As Peter writes in the first chapter of his first letter, "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." Today, our risen Savior says to you and to me, "Peace be with you!"


When do you feel the most peaceful? Someone may answer that they have a feeling of peace immediately after spending time here in God's house in a worship service such as this one. Another person may mention the peace that comes when the children finally settle down for a nap; or, the peace of spending time on a quite lake. I'm sure that all of us enjoy moments of peace. Following some peaceful time away, we are motivated to go back to our everyday lives. This is the same for the peace given to us by our risen Lord. As Jesus comes to you and me today and says, "Peace be with you!", this peace (that only he is able to offer) motivates and empowers you and me to gladly and willingly do our Lord's work.

Not only did the risen Lord come to the disciples that first Easter night and offer them the peace they were searching for, but he also gave them work to do. We read, "Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' And with that 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.'" Jesus gives the disciples a special gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the very tool they would need to carry out his work; the work of proclaiming his Word.

More specifically, Jesus says that he is giving them the power to forgive or not forgive sins. This, as we teach in our Catechism classes and adult instruction classes, is known in the Christian Church as the "Ministry of Keys". Our limited time today will keep us from going into great detail concerning this teaching of the Bible. For now, let it be enough to say that Jesus was giving to his disciples and all believers, the keys to the gates of heaven. Speaking on behalf of the Lord of the Church, and according to his will, we use these keys to unlock the gates for those who repent of their sins. However, we lock the gate to those who refuse to repent.

The risen Lord also gave the disciples his Holy Spirit so that they would boldly confess their faith to others. In this portion of God's Word before us, we see the other disciples willing to confess to Thomas that Jesus was alive. "So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!'" The original language gives us the insight that the others did not talk to Thomas only once or twice, but that time after time they confessed to Thomas what they knew to be true: Jesus is alive! After the risen Savior appeared to Thomas, we read his beautiful confession, "Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!'" The Lord had broken the unbelief of Thomas. In faith, he boldly makes his beautiful confession.

The risen Lord, Jesus Christ, says to you, "Peace be with you!" It is the peace that only our risen Lord is able to offer that empowers and motivates you and me to carry on the work he has given us to do, both as individuals and as a congregation. Our risen Lord has asked you and me to confess his name to all people. You and I are to tell others of the peace we enjoy; the peace which only the living Savior is able to offer. This is the main reason why we are planning to expand our ministry out on Highway P. As a congregation, we want many, many others to have the same peace we enjoy from our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Not only has the risen Lord given us the task of sharing the Good News of the peace he won with those who do not yet know him as their Savior, but we are also to be messengers of all of his Word. To those who, in stubborn unbelief, refuse to repent of their sins, you and I have the responsibility to speak God's Law clearly and boldly. But, to those who truly repent and confess their sins, you and I have the privilege of sharing the Good News that there is peace between them and a holy, just God; that their sins are forgiven and they are able to look forward to living forever in the peace of heaven, because of the one and only Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Filled with the peace only Jesus is able to give, be motivated to share that peace with others.

What does the word "peace" mean for you? In answering this question, and describing the peace Christians enjoy, Dr. Martin Luther once wrote this, "The world thinks that peace consists in this, that the evil is removed from a person and ended...But Christ does not give such peace. He lets the evil remain to oppress a man; he does not take it away. However, he uses another art and changes the person, taking the person from evil, not the evil from the person. This is how it is done: When you are in deep trouble, he so turns you away from it and gives you such courage that you think you are sitting in a garden of roses. So...in the midst of discord you find peace and joy...This confidence is created by the Holy Spirit, who teaches you to know the great goodness and grace of Christ." For you and me, peace is ours, knowing that we are not alone. You and I don't have to face the challenges and difficulties of this life on our own. Peace is yours and mine confident that our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is on his throne in heaven, watching over us day after day, holding us in his almighty hands. You and I enjoy peace, comforted by the Good News that all of our sins are forgiven through our risen Savior. As this peace fills your heart, you and I are motivated to do his work. Today, it is our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who says to you and me, "Peace be with you!" Amen.

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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Oconomowoc, WI 53066
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