Posts Tagged ‘doubt’

 “…He showed them His Hands and His side.”  (St. John 20: 20)

How did they know it was Jesus?  After all, He had risen from the dead, like a diver into water, Jesus could come into a locked room.  He was in His glorified body, denser and more real than the reality He created.  The disciples knew it was the Lord because He showed them His hands and His side, the wounds of the Cross, God’s wounds.  These were the scars of the Roman soldier who lanced Him in His side, and the mark of the spikes that nailed Him to the Cross.  I focus on the Lord’s pierced hands.

In the second congregation where I was the pastor, St. Matthew’s, built during the Great Depression, has great stained glass windows:  Jesus preaching, Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus healing. The now wounded hands of Christ Jesus had broken the bread and blessed the Cup. His hands blessed the children. They pointed to the Scripture as He read from the Torah in Nazareth’s synagogue.  So many times, He touched the sick and the suffering to heal and raise up.  He touched the funeral bier of the son of the Widow of Nain.   He lifted up His hands in prayer and in prayer folded them in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.  His hands lifted up in blessing.  His hands bound when He arrested.   In all the stained glasses you and I have seen in Sanctuaries, have you ever seen one stained glass in which Jesus is wielding a sword or a club, pointing at someone and yelling, making a fist…flipping the bird at someone?  Of course not, because Jesus never did so and His hands were so nailed to the Cross for what our hands have done and undone.

God’s Law commands us: Hands off!  Hands-off children for sex!  Hands off, abusing your child or spouse in abuse.  Hands off the merchandise, it’s not your.  Hands off the keyboard at the computer for porn.  Hands off  any unclean thing…and God does not make unclean things, we do.   And God’s Law points us beyond it’s necessary negative to protect us from ourselves and each other  to the positive:  hands on in love of God and love of neighbor.Hands to build, and not destroy, to write, to draw, to paint, to sew, to eat, to drink, to pray,to hold to care and protect, not to strike in hate or anger. yet, in this fallen world, we might have to pull a trigger, fight to defend against evil.  This is  the reason police and military are noble and needed vocations in the world.  We can so love and when we do not, and we preach so you may not sin, My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2: 1)

Blessed are those who believe but have not seen.  How will those who have not seen believe?  By the Word the Apostles first preached, the Word of His Wounds, “…and with His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:  5), the very Wounds of God for men and women wounded in sin, mortally wounded.  The Elizabethans had it right in their expression, God’s Wounds. All the disciples knew it was the Lord when He showed them His hands and side.  We preach Christ’s Wounds, the indelible mark of our salvation.  His wounds are the sign of forgiveness and our wounds healed in His forgiveness can give witness to the crucified and risen Lord.  “…and with His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53). Wounds left uncared for will fester and become infected.  Even such a small wound untreated will become worse with infection.  Even when we think the trespass is no big thing, a mere peccadillo, we begin to think all wrong is such and it was not a mistake that the Lord went willingly to the Cross, but the sin of the world a world and its enormity, and  we can be much too much part of in its darkness. This meme is based upon a liberal church body’s slogan, God’s Work, Our Hands but this meme here is more like it.  It was the hands of so called justice that drove nails in and with the spite and venom of us all, biting and devouring each other.  We do not know our good works, we know alone God’s good work:  His Son’s death and resurrection alone.  In sign language, the sign for Jesus is:

The Church’s sign as well.

We do not need a Cross tattooed to our bodies to be reminded of the grace of the crucified and risen Lord forgiving us. Our wounds leave scars, body and soul.  Our wounds healed in the Lord’s forgiveness are trophies of the Lord’s grace for each and every one us.  Our wounds are a sermon of His forgiveness for us.  The disciples fled from His Cross.  Peter denied Him three times.  Jesus did not come back to get them, to strike them with His hands but to show them His hands and His side, the wounds of their forgiveness and ours in His perfect patience.  He breathed on  the Apostles the Holy Spirit with the charge to forgive the repentant, and to retain the sins of those not repentant so they may turn to the Lord again, abounding in steadfast love.  The breath of the Holy Spirit is the Word of the Gospel, His forgiveness as His hands show forth the proof of His Word.

What binds us together as Christ’s Church is not our shared spiritual experiences.  We are bound together by faith, not by experience.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer).  Jesus Christ binds us together, the Word made flesh.  When even well-meaning Christians attempt to bind a congregation in their best life now, the only thing that happens is, we are in a bind. When we sin, we have the Advocate with the Father, and it’s not us!  The Lord gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples so that the fruit of Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and death could be distributed.  The fruit is His forgiveness by His grace, mercy and peace in God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

This forgiveness is hands-on.  Jesus sent His apostles.  Jesus hands on His hands-on forgiveness to Thomas as well in the good confession: My Lord and my God, the entirety of the 2nd Article of the Creed in a nutshell.  1 John 1: 1:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life…

This is the apostolic witness.  Jesus is our  Advocate when we sin and word “advocate” in Greek is “paraclete”, another Name for the Holy Spirit. Paraclete also means “Comforter”.  Jesus has brought the wounds of the Cross into heaven itself.  His Blood is the “propitiation”, the atonement for, “…the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)  Not just some sins, but all trespass, and not limited to the elect but for all so that many believe and be saved.

The Lord is patient as we see in His resurrection as He sought the lost, the afraid and mourning disciples.  1 Corinthians 13:  “Love is patient“.   1 Timothy 1, the Apostle Paul ids himself as the “foremost of sinners” who persecuted the Church, so that , “…Jesus might display His perfect patience.  The Apostle Peter wrong in his second letter, chapter 3, verse 9:

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

The word is Greek for patience is “makrothumia” and is better translated in the King James:  long-suffering.  “Macro”, opposite of “micro”, long and thumia, suffering.  The Lord suffered long in His life upon earth and the risen Lord, bearing the wounds, still long-suffers for us.  He has made us His own.

Luther:  “Whoever touches a Christian believer touches the apple of God’s eye”.  When I was in Jerusalem, our Israeli guide, Ari, at every site associated with Jesus, the Ascension, the Garden of Gethsemane,would tell our group, “This is an authentic site of Jesus”.  We do not have to go to Jerusalem for authentic sites of Jesus.  You are. Where the Baptized are, the Holy Communion shared, the forgiveness of sins extended, when one repents and returns to the Lord our God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love: these are all authentic sites of Jesus Christ.  His hands-on forgiveness and with Him faith, hope and love, marks us as His own, so we out of pure faith love as He first loved us.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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Tuesday in Holy Week


Almighty and everlasting God, grant us by Your grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord’s passion that we may obtain the forgiveness of our sins; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 71:1-14 (antiphon: v. 12)

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (26-31)

Mark 14:1-15:47                                                                                                                                                                          or John12:23-50

Verse:  The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

Cross Reflections:

Graham Green’s comic novel, Monsignor Quixote takes place in Spain under the brutal dictatorship of Francisco Franco and is about a Roman Catholic priest Monsignor Quixote.  Yes, his name is the same as the great fictional character.  Fr. Quixote lives and serves in a sleepy town who’s Mayor is an ardent Communist and the Father’s best friend.  Father, not known for ambition, is made a Monsignor and this sets off a chain of events that brings together the new Monsignor and his Communist friend in a series of adventures in the Father’s old car Roncinante.  In this scene the Father and the Mayor have fallen asleep, but Monsignor Quixote wakes up from a bad dream:

He had dreamt that Christ had been saved from the Cross by the legion of angels to which on an earlier occasion the Devil had told Him that He could appeal. So there was no final agony, no heavy stone which had to be rolled away, no discovery of an empty tomb. Father Quixote stood there watching on Golgotha as Christ stepped down from the Cross triumphant and acclaimed. The Roman soldiers, even the Centurion, knelt in His honor, and the people of Jerusalem poured up the hill to worship Him. The disciples clustered happily around. His mother smiled through her tears of joy. There was no ambiguity, no room for doubt and no room for faith at all. The whole world knew with certainty that Christ was the Son of God.

It was only a dream, of course it was only a dream, but nonetheless Father Quixote had felt on waking the chill of despair felt by a man who realizes suddenly that he has taken up a profession which is of use to no one, who must continue to live in a kind of Saharan desert without doubt or faith, where everyone is certain that the same belief is true. He had found himself whispering, “God save me from such a belief.” Then he heard the Mayor turn restlessly on the bed beside him, and he added without thought, “Save him too from belief,” and only then he fell asleep again.

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