May 3, 2020

Online Service for 3rd Sunday after Easter, May 3, 2020

Passage: John 20:19-23
Service Type:

Sermon for Easter Three – Sunday May 3, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3–4, NIV84)

John 20:19–23 (NKJV)
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And 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 retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
The source of real, lasting peace,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –

What do you need…right now? What is the first thing that comes to mind this morning?

Toilet Paper? Hand Sanitizer? A Face Mask? A New Job? A Little Social Interaction? The pastor to stop asking questions?

What do I need? It’s a personal question, one depending on a number of factors. How well have you been handling the quarantine? Have you been able to leave the house? Are you craving a particular food? Now I’ve opened up a can of worms…let me ask another question.

What did Jesus’ disciples need – more than anything else – the evening that Jesus rose from the dead?

Well, certainly their needs were different than ours today, right…or were they? Let’s think about it for a moment. They were voluntarily behind closed doors, afraid of what the future might bring to them. They felt alone.

Well, surely their fears were different than ours, right…or were they?

 They were afraid of the future, about what might happen to them. Jesus had been suddenly arrested, condemned and crucified and the same people that made it happen had gone after other followers of Jesus (John 9:22) even kicking them out of the synagogue. Jesus’ enemies had certainly ramped up their opposition the last couple of days. They had even had Jesus’ tomb sealed and guarded. It may be that they heard that the Roman Soldiers were telling people that Jesus disciples came at night and stole Jesus body (Matthew 28:11-15).

 So, are we afraid? Are we afraid of the future, about what might happen to us and to our country? Are we afraid of the Covid-19 virus? We’d probably all insist, ‘No, I’m not afraid of it.’ What if cases ramp up the next couple of days? What if someone you know, personally, suddenly falls sick and dies? We wonder what is life going to be like when everything opens again? Will I lose my job? Will I see my loved ones again?

I’m not trying to frighten you; really, I’m not. I’m just pointing out that we really aren’t that much different than Jesus’ disciples were the evening of the first day of the week. We need the same thing that they needed.

What did Jesus’ disciples need – more than anything else? They needed Jesus. They needed Peace, and that’s what Jesus alone can give. He gives peace in the face of death, peace in chaos, peace with God.

We are reminded this morning that Christ’s Peace isn’t only meant for Christ’s Disciples. Christ’s peace is to be dispensed by His Disciples to the whole world.

O God of Peace, we turn aside from a world of chaos and noise seeking rest for our spirits and calm for our thoughts. We turn to you for cleansing, healing, forgiveness and renewed hope. In You there is perfect peace. Draw us to you and silence the noise in our hearts and minds. Help us to worship You and to find peace in Jesus through Your Word. Take away the loneliness of self and fill us with the fullness of your peace. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Do you remember your children’s first words? Mama? Dada? NO?

As I remember it, the first word that came out of my youngest sister Eve-Lynn’s mouth was… “Jamie.” Jamie? Yup, Jamie. It was what the next-door neighbor lady would stand on the porch and yell around supper time. She would call out for her son, my friend, “Jamie!” I guess my little sister heard her and took up her son’s name one day.

First words are often important. So…what were the first words that the Risen Jesus spoke…

To the women returning from the empty tomb to tell the disciples? “Rejoice!” (Matthew 28:9)
To the assembled disciples the evening of the first day of the week? “Peace to you.” (Luke 24:36, John 20:19)

Actually, in both cases Jesus’ words were common greetings. We say things like, “Hello. Good Morning.” The Jews often greeted one another with these two greetings, “Rejoice…and Peace to you.” In fact, to this day many ethnic Jews still greet one another with the Hebrew word, “Shalom” which simply means, “Peace.”

Now the words may have been common, but the circumstances were far from common. They were beginning to come around on the whole ‘resurrection thing’ and some of them had actually seen Jesus once already that day.

Some of the Women met him on the way back from the tomb.
Mary Magdalene met him at the tomb.
Simon Peter had seen Jesus, but we don’t know the circumstances (1 Corinthians 15:5, Luke 24:34).
The Emmaus Disciples had seen and talked with Jesus.

In fact, they were just recounting the event (Luke 24:35-36) when – boom – there He was standing in the middle of the group. The Gospel of John reports it matter-of-factly:

Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

It doesn’t say that Jesus knocked and came in the door. It doesn’t say that He climbed through the window. It simply says that suddenly He was there, standing in the middle of them.

We might expect excitement, even joy. After all, a moment before they were excitedly telling how Peter had seen Jesus alive and then the Emmaus Disciples took their turn and then suddenly, He…was…standing there.

They weren’t excited, they were afraid, even terrified. The Gospel of Luke pictures the same event and tells us (Luke 24:37):

“But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.”

Why would they be afraid? It wasn’t the first time they had witnessed the miraculous. No, and very often on those occasions they were also afraid (Matthew 14:26, Mark 6:49, Luke 5:8). He had walked on water. He had healed the sick. He had raised the dead. They were beginning to believe He was alive, but when He suddenly appeared, they were afraid.

Why would they be afraid? I suppose there was the obvious…some of them had seen him die. Some of them had watched his body laid to rest, wrapped in linen strips.

Why would they be afraid? Some of them had promised, insisted even that they would never leave Him. They had all said, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Mark 14:31). Then the last time they were all together…they had all run away.

Would things be different with Jesus? Would He disown them? Would he deny them as they had denied Him?

They were in need of peace…of comfort…of forgiveness. So that’s exactly what Jesus gave to them when He first saw them. He didn’t just wish them peace. He didn’t merely promise, “Some day you will find peace.” He gave them the peace that they needed…He simply said to them:

“Peace be with you.”

It’s the same thing that we need today. We’ve been locked up in our homes with our sinful thoughts. We’ve had time to let fear get hold of us and doubts to enter our minds. Is the world as we know it ever going to be the same? The world may change…but Jesus will always be the same. God’s Word assures us (Hebrews 13:8):

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

So also, is His peace, His comfort and His forgiveness. Now notice that Jesus didn’t only say, “Peace be with you.” He also did something for them and for us.

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

It’s one thing to offer peace…it’s another thing to offer the proof of payment made and accepted.

When Jesus said, “Peace be with you” it wasn’t wishful thinking. It wasn’t an empty ‘pie in the sky’ peace. It wasn’t like those unrealistic Christmas car commercials where someone gives someone else a new car, complete with a big red bow.

Jesus offered and gave them peace of heart and mind because He had obtained it. He had paid the price to make things right with God. He had offered His body and shed his blood. He wasn’t only proving that it was really Him, really the same Jesus.
When the Living Jesus showed them His hands and His side… He was showing them the receipt!
It’s one thing to offer peace…it’s another thing to offer the proof of payment made and accepted.

Jesus gave them real peace. He wasn’t just saying, “Don’t be afraid of the Jewish Leaders, look what they did to me and it didn’t stop me!” He wasn’t just saying, “Don’t be afraid of what you have done…I have taken care of it.” He wasn’t just saying, “Don’t be afraid that I’m a ghost, let me eat something in front of you.”

He was saying, “Look here. Read the ‘not so fine print’ in my hands and my side’. I paid the price for all your sins. It really is finished like I said before, on Friday, on the cross.”

Let’s be clear. Jesus came to make peace with God. He came to destroy the enmity created when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and enmity built upon when we sin, each day, in thought, word and action. It’s why He is called (Isaiah 9:6) the Prince of Peace. It’s why the angels offered a preview to startled shepherds (Luke 2:14):

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

Christ came to obtain forgiveness of sins and peace with God, so that the Apostle Paul could later write (Romans 5:1):

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

This peace wasn’t only obtained for those men assembled in that room behind locked doors. No indeed, for the Spirit of God has seen fit to record this message for you and for me. This peace, purchased with the blood of the Son of God is intended for every human being…which is why Jesus repeated His amazing greeting and commissioned His disciples on that first day of the week to share His peace with the world.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

As I understand it, someone once asked Martin Luther if He wished that John 3:16 read, “God so loved Martin Luther, that He gave His only begotten Son…” Martin replied, “No, because I’d always wonder if it was a different Martin Luther.” The Scripture says that God so loved the world…and that includes me…and everyone else.”

It’s also important here to understand to whom these words were spoken. Who did Jesus authorize to share His Peace? Who was all present there behind shut doors when the Living Jesus appeared?

It wasn’t just Peter (Matthew 16:18-19). It wasn’t just the 10 remaining disciples (Thomas was absent, Judas was dead). It included the Emmaus Disciples (Luke 24:33-36) and other followers of Jesus (Luke 24:33). In fact, today (Matthew 18:20) that number includes each of you.

This work doesn’t only belong to Peter or the 12 or those who were sent out by Christ Himself. This work doesn’t only belong to the men that Christian congregations call to administer baptism and serve the Supper of the Lord.

What Jesus here has to say is meant for all of those who trust in Christ. He has work for us all. This work belongs to the entire church of Jesus.

22 And 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 retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Jesus spoke these words to all His Disciples…including you. He equips you by sending the Holy Spirit through the Word and in the Sacraments so that you can share the peace that He purchased and won with His own body and blood.

If you – a believer – forgive the sins of any – He stands behind you and the sins stand forgiven.
If you – a believer – tell someone that their sins are bound to them – He stands behind you and binds them.

When the Pastor declares, “I forgive you your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” it isn’t His own forgiveness. He’s only doing what Christ authorizes all of us to do right here in these words. Forgiveness belongs to Jesus, because He paid the price to obtain it. It doesn’t belong to any other man.

Christ’s peace is meant for the whole world. But to obtain it, it is necessary that the world see its sin and guilt. It’s necessary that the world understand that it cannot make peace or arrange for it any other way. Jesus death was necessary to atone for real sins, to take away real guilt. Christ’s peace is meant for those who know that sin, that guilt, that fear.

Christ’s peace is meant for the whole world…which is why Jesus says, “If you forgive the sins OF ANY.” He doesn’t only want our friends and family to possess this peace, but even our enemies. Which is why we do not withhold this peace from those who confess their sins and seek it in Christ.

We are not to offer His peace to those who reject Jesus or who boldly live in sin. Rather when that friend comes to you and says, “I’ve tried so hard to be a good person…but I’ve hurt people with my mouth and my actions.” “I’ve done things I regret; I wish I could get a do over.” “I’ve hurt the people I love.” I’ve sinned against God; How can I ever make things right?”

We can say, “You can’t make things right. You don’t need to. Jesus has done it.” Let me tell you about real peace, peace that comes from God, peace found in Christ. He paid my debt…and you know I had one. He also paid yours.”

Jesus sinners doth receive. Also I have been forgiven;
And when I this earth must leave, I shall find an open heaven.
Dying, still to Him I cleave-- Jesus sinners doth receive.

It’s the peace we need.

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