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Easter 2 – Quasimodogeniti

by pastorjuhl ~ March 27th, 2008

Text is St. John 20:19-31 and 1 John 5:4-10

Hymns: LSB 474, “Alleluia, Jesus Is Risen”, LSB 459, “Christ Is Arisen” (Sequence Hymn), LSB 471, “O Sons and Daughters of the King” (Chief Hymn), LSB 465, “Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds”, LSB 482, “This Joyful Eastertide”, LSB 457, “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today”.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

            Ten men behind locked doors are scared to death.  Peter and John have seen the empty tomb.  Mary Magdalene has seen the Lord Jesus alive.  Cleopas and a traveling companion met Jesus on the road to Emmaus and did not recognize Him until He broke bread and mysteriously disappeared.  All these reports add up to one thing: doubt.

            Their doubt is not really doubt.  It is a lack of faith.  They want to believe that Jesus is alive.  But they need proof.  They need an eyewitness.  Mary Magdalene’s words are nice but none of them are Mary Magdalene.  Cleopas’ adventure is amazing, but none of them are Cleopas.  Peter and John comes the closest, but saw an angel and the burial cloths.  Where’s the body?

            Right there in front of them!  All of a sudden, Jesus is there.  His wounds are fresh.  They see and believe.  Their lack of faith turns to joy.  Then Jesus breathes on them and charges them to witness what they have seen and heard.  The Holy Spirit goes with them as the Divine Witness to Christ’s death and resurrection.

            It’s not enough for Thomas.  He wasn’t there that night.  He needs to be an eyewitness.  He must see and touch the wounds.  He won’t believe until his demands are met.

            Poor Thomas.  The words of his comrades won’t change his mind.  The ten men’s first opportunity to preach the Gospel as eyewitnesses of the resurrection fails!  Try as they may, Thomas has to see Jesus to believe Jesus.

            Saint John writes in retrospect, Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  This is He who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood.  And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.  For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.  And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.

            The Church suffers trouble from all sides because those who seek Divine Truth want a witness to the Truth.  They want to see Jesus.  They want to touch Him, handle Him, and examine Him closely to see whether or not this Jesus is the real thing.  They read the Bible but can’t get much past Leviticus because the book doesn’t make sense.  They go to Divine Service but can’t get past the preaching of repentance toward the forgiveness of sins.  They see how Christians act toward each other and find a double standard hard to miss.  The witness of Christ is clouded by mystery, shadows, questions that cannot be answered, and sin getting in the way of a clear witness to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

            None of us in this room witnessed the resurrected Jesus with our own eyes.  None of us wrote an account of Christ’s life or a letter to a particular congregation about an aspect of Christian faith and life.  All of us often stand in the way of a clear proclamation of forgiveness, life, and salvation by saying and doing sinful things.  Those who want to believe the Truth of God’s Word, even those who cannot bring themselves to believe God’s Word is truly God’s Word, have a lot of doubt.  They have every right to doubt when they read a history of the Christian Church.  Murders, persecutions, forced conversions, and dark deeds witness that Christians are far from perfect.

            When we point to the witnesses Saint John writes about: the Spirit, the water, and the blood, people think we Christians are some bizarre cannibalistic cult.  No one in their right mind would think to point to water and blood pouring from a Man’s side after He dies as a witness to His Divinity, let alone those witnesses serving us today in the life of the Church.  There has to be other witnesses less offensive than some supposedly nebulous Spirit that can’t be seen or touched, as well as the water and blood from Christ’s Body.

            There are no other witnesses today that speak as loudly as water, blood, and Spirit.  These three cry out together in heaven and earth that the victory over sin, death, and hell is accomplished.  John also writes: Whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.  Our faith needs an object.  Faith in an idea is not faith.  Faith needs to cling to something tangible.  The world believes the Holy Spirit, water, and blood are not enough evidence to support belief in Christ.  The Christian called out of the darkness of this world into the marvelous light of Christ sees the Holy Spirit at work in the water and the blood of Christ.

            The Christian rejoices in the water and blood of Christ because these witnesses flow from the Word made flesh.  Jesus takes the punishment you deserve for your disobedience head on.  He suffers death so you don’t have to suffer death.  He rises from the dead so you may rise with Him on Judgment Day.  You know and believe this Truth because someone put the Word of Christ in your ears.  Someone witnessed the death and resurrection of Christ to you.  What were that person’s witnesses?  The Spirit, the water, and the blood of Christ were the witnesses; the same witnesses that witnessed Jesus to that person.

            The Spirit has breath.  Breath brings dry bones back to life.  Breath brings you and me back to life too.  The breath of the Holy Spirit works through the Word proclaimed from this pulpit.  All of us have weeks where we come to God’s House as dry bones held together by the grace of God.  The witness of the Spirit’s Breath moistens our dry bones with baptismal waters.  Though our baptism happened years ago, we are still wet.  It’s never “I was baptized”…past tense, but “I am baptized”…present tense.  The witness of the Spirit goes in our mouth under bread and wine shown for us to be the True Body and True Blood of Christ.  Eating and drinking the Holy Supper testifies that Christ’s death brings good things: forgiveness and life.

            Though none of us actually have seen Jesus alive, we have a witness that cannot lie: the Spirit, the water, and the blood.  Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  Rejoice, beloved.  Jesus overcomes the world.  Believe it not because I said so.  Believe it because the Spirit, the water, and the blood bear witness to your eternal destination: Paradise forever.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

1 Response to Easter 2 – Quasimodogeniti

  1. Petersen

    Nice. Thanks.

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