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Posts Tagged ‘Quasimodgeniti Sunday’

Text: St.  John 20: 19-30

Three times Jesus greets His Apostles with Peace be with you in this Gospel reading.  This is a greeting  but it is more.  It is a statement of fact.  Peace is not first a feeling, a peaceful feeling.  It is the fact of the reconciliation that Jesus has finished on the Cross between God and us. 

For in him (that is, Jesus Christ)  all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians  1:20)

 We can turn to His peace day by day, in all of life’s way, as we pray, Our Father Who art in heaven. Christ’s peace is opposite here of fear.  The disciples are locked in the room for fear of the Jews.  Remember:  this record occurs on the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion.  The disciples probably thought they too could be arrested and executed for blasphemy and sedition against the Roman Empire.  They also are forsook Jesus before  His trial and fled.

 Not only fear of authorities but also the right fear of God,  His 10 Commandments broken. The disciples had every right to be fearful as we all do when we have a sneaking suspicion that what one is doing is not right.  The disciples hid themselves as did Adam and Eve in the garden.  They were naked and exposed by their own sin.The fear of exposure… No one will see nor hear me and what I do at the computer screen, what I did on my tax form, what I said about so and so, what I want so much from the world’s goods. If only they knew…at the office, at school…at my church. The Law brings the inbred sin to light and it’s fright as we hide. Fear hides behind locked doors. The disciples could not free themselves, they were in bondage and could not free themselves.  As were Adam and Eve, as we are when we sin.

 But the Lord does not come in vengeance, but in His peace.  He comes not take their lives, but give His life.  Lives have been taken by the wages of sin which is death, He comes and gives them His eternal life received by faith.  What we can not achieve in any sense, we receive as a gift. He taught us that He gives peace but not as the world give He gives.  The world gives temporal peace at the threat of punishment and death. The Lord gives eternal peace in the promise of His wounds and so life, eternal life. He comes to forgive and has the sign of His forgiveness from the Father through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit:  His wounds.  His forgiveness is eternal life, as He said to Martha outside the tomb of Lazarus.  “I am the resurrection and the life.” One of the themes of Lord’s resurrection appearances is illustrated perfectly when Jesus taught:  “The sheep hear his voice (that is the Good Shepherd’s voice), and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.   He pointed out that the hired hand flees at the sight of the wolf.  The Good Shepherd does not. Just before today’s Gospel reading, it is reported that Mary Magdalene was outside the tomb,distraught, beside herself with grief and Jesus comes to her and says one word to her, “Mary”, her name and she exclaimed, Rabboni!  He called her by name as  He has you in your baptism, of whatever age.  As He promised, He fulfilled:  The good Shepherd laid down His life for the sheep. Like the shepherd who left the 99 sheep  in search of the one, He searches for each one of His disciples to find them, hold them send them.    In today’s Gospel, He is leading them out but with what? 

20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.21 

He leads them by His Word and the sign of His Wounds, His Word is in His Wounds, the Word made flesh, scarred with sin, healed and healing with His unending eternal life: Christ is risen!  This fulfills what the Prophet Isaiah foresaw:  “By His wounds ye are healed.”  He needed no key to enter that room because He Himself is the key to the room and to their hearts, souls and minds and yours as well.  AS He said, He is the door of the sheep pen.  The disciples’ bleating with fear is met by His courage.  

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

The Lord Jesus gives the Apostles the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit’s work is the Word of God, the Word made flesh Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit in perfect concert with the Son and the Father has one goal:  our salvation which is His forgiveness.  This is a spiritual kingdom and can not be equated at all with the kingdoms of this world.  This spiritual Kingdom, the Lord’s reign is contrary to those who falsely believe we are building God’s kingdom here on earth, one of social justice and the like.  They only invite tyranny over soul and body. His Kingdom stands over and against them in judgment and grace, as the Lord told John, Christ Jesus, “…the ruler of kings on earth” (Revelation 1: 4) Jesus gives the apostles, read the Church, the keys of the Kingdom, His reign:  the forgiveness of sins from the mouth of His called Apostles and as established by the Lord, those following in the apostolic train:  pastors and ministers.  Pastors can not forgive sinners on their own authority but only as authorized by His Church and by His Word He gave to the apostles:

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

The pastor’s voice is the voice of God so you may be absolved and know the Lord’s gracious will of the peace of reconciliation to be strengthened in the one true faith.  The faith which Thomas confessed upon seeing the wounds of Thomas’ forgiveness and yours and mine and the guy we meet on Main Street, the colleague in the hallway, the friend in class.  A key both opens and locks.  For those who know like Thomas they don’t know the way and the Way, Jesus Christ, comes forgiving in His Church, through those who He has called to preach, teach, baptize, preside, heaven is opened.  For those who refuse Christ and insist on their way, the dead end of sin and unbelief, forgiveness is withheld…in sadness, for the day in which the Word of His Law breaks the heart to receive Christ’s forgiveness.  “My Lord and my God!”  is the confession of faith which the Lord gives as He forgives.  If I were to say over there God is speaking, people would run.  He is speaking through His ministers when they put forth His Word and Sacraments so that you may believe and hold anew to the Lord who has sought you.  And as it is written, this gift is in earthen vessels so we may know the surpassing gift is God’s alone.

My Savior still lives,
And I too will live in the peace that He gives;
Within me no sin has the strength to remove
The truth of His pardon, the pow’r of His love;
My Lord is arisen, now death must retreat
To utter defeat –
Christ’s work is complete.

From a new hymn by Pr. Mark Preus

Before the Passover of the Lamb of God, Jesus spoke of going and stating to the disciples you know the way, but Thomas had to know:  “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” After the resurrection, Thomas had to know to believe.  Thomas is us.  Jesus’ Word, the Word of God made flesh is in the wounds. He invites Thomas. He does not chide His apostle, Now you should have more faith.  Belief is in His wounds for Thomas and for you, the word of the Gospel. Those wounds conveyed once and for all, as He said just three days before this, It is finished, our forgiveness, our salvation. This was all written for us to know like Thomas. This is written, the faithful Word from the faithful Lord to the faithless that they believing be. His Word is our daily bread. Thomas confessed the faith of the Church in the central act of all history, the Incarnation:  My Lord and my God!  How can we know the way? By His Word.  Thomas now knew the way, the truth and the life, no one goes to the Father except by Him because He came to them, once and for all, for you.

Come near, sinners all,
Christ stands in our midst to lift up all who fall,
To bind what is broken, to heal what is ill,
To pardon transgression through God’s gracious will;
Sin, death and the devil, the power they wield
To Jesus must yield.
Our peace has been sealed.

I ask for no more.
My sins are forgiven, God opens the door
To Heaven, where sinners from each tribe and race
Are fully forgiven through faith in His grace;
The Church of all tongues to the Ancient of Days
Forever shall raise
Thanksgiving and praise.

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Jesus of the Scars by Edward Shillito

Edward Shillito was an English minister who survived the horrors of artillery, machine guns, and trench warfare during World War I.

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow;
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars we claim Thy grace.

If when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know today what wounds are; have no fear;
Show us Thy Scars; we know the countersign.

The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

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