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Homiletical Study for Quasimodo

by William Weedon ~ March 28th, 2008


Second Sunday of Easter

LSB Ezekiel 37:1-14 1 John 5:4-10 John 20:19-31

?Collect of the Day?

Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

?Liturgical Context?

“As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word.”  The antiphon for the Introit reminds us that this day was a day of mystagogy.  The meaning of the Paschal mystery was being unfolded to the newly baptized and they were exhorted to be giving their attention to the Word, or rather, to be hungering for it and crying for it like the new-born babes that they truly were.  The LW A Epistle carries this theme through:  God is blessed in classic “berekah” form for the gift of new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Christ.  The traditional Epistle also speaks of those who are “born of God” and how they overcome the world by faith.  Thus the liturgical context of the day reminds us that Easter and Baptism can never be separated from one another without disfiguring them both.  The Pentecostoran (the fifty days of Easter) are fifty days of celebrating the new birth that is given in Baptism.  And new born babies need food.  And what we “eat” in the Church is God’s Word, served up in various dishes (Eucharist, Scripture reading, sermons, Absolution).

?Text in Detail?

John 20:19

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

oushv oun oqiav th hmera ekeinh th mia twn sabbatwn kai twn yurwn kekleismenwn opou hsan oi mayhtai sunhgmenoi dia ton fobon twn ioudaiwn hlyen o ihsouv kai esth eiv to meson kai legei autoiv eirhnh umin 

“The doors!  The doors!”  the cry rings out to this day in the Orthodox liturgy.  It is when the doors are shut that Jesus comes to stand in the midst of his synaxis, his gathered ones, to speak the word of peace that puts fears to flight.  Though it was fear that led them to shut the doors that day, it was the great joy of the meeting with the Lord which none could understand but those who had been baptized and brought into the mystery of Jesus’ resurrection that led the Church to keep the doors closed whenever this synaxis was to take place.  Open communion means not that anyone can come to the altar, but somehow along the way the Church forgot to shut the doors.  Consequently the danger of “swine” coming in and being given “the holy things” which are only for “the holy ones.”  (see Matt 7 and Didache).

John 20:20

After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

kai touto eipwn edeixen autoiv tav ceirav kai thn pleuran autou ecarhsan oun oi mayhtai idontev ton kurion 

The Risen Lord does not have a body other than the one in which He was crucified.  It is by the sign of the wounded flesh that the disciples know who it is that is standing in their midst, giving them peace.  And so from the sign of the wounds flows joy.  That Jesus reaches his body and blood yet as parted from one is a similar showing of the wounds to his disciples.  By the sight of the wounds we know that our sins have been forgiven and our shame removed and our death undone.  

John 20:21

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

eipen oun autoiv o ihsouv palin eirhnh umin kaywv apestalken me o pathr kagw pempw umav 

Any attempt to drive a wedge between “apostellw” and “pemw” is defeated by the “kathws.”  Jesus is sent.  They are sent.  Jesus comes bearing a gift.  The gift Jesus bears is what they are given to carry out into the world. Peace is what He brings them.  Peace is what He was sent to bring to them and to the world. “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give to you, let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  (John 14:27).  Luther:  “We think peace means getting us out of trouble; peace really means getting trouble out of us.”  Jesus’ peace is not a thing separate from Him, but the effect of His Spirit’s presence.  John 14:27 spoke of the gift of peace while John 14:26 spoke of the gift of the Spirit.  Not two gifts, but one.  That we see also here:

John 20:22

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

kai touto eipwn enefushsen kai legei autoiv labete pneuma agion 

He goes with the breath of Jesus.  He goes with the words of Jesus that are carried on Jesus’ breath.  He goes into earholes bringing the gift of His presence which is peace.  The resurrected Lord shows himself at one with the Creating Lord, for by the gift of breath is life bestowed.  Their life would be only in the breath of Jesus and what is carried on that breath:  His words, His Spirit/words that give life.  “The words that I speak to you:  they are Spirit and they are Life.”  Jn 6:63.  Because they carry life in themselves, the words that the disciples are given to bear are words that bring forgiveness as they are believed, judgment as they are not received:

John 20:23

“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

an tinwn afhte tav amartiav afientai autoiv an tinwn krathte kekrathntai 

The words of Jesus are spoken as words of sin forgiven.  This first because this is their proprium, their proper use.  But where the words are not believed, where the Spirit’s life in the words is rejected, there the words that are life themselves become judgment:  sins retained, the cross undone, the resurrection denied.  Horrific beyond thought. But forgiveness is the final word and so Jesus goes further:

John 20:24

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

ywmav de eiv ek twn dwdeka o legomenov didumov ouk hn met autwn ote hlyen o ihsouv 

Let that be a lesson to all who would miss the synaxis.  To miss out on the gathering is not to miss out on a bit of human fellowship that might be nice and might not.  Is not to miss out on the inspiring and uplifting music and the general feeling of coziness.  It is to miss out on meeting the One who stands in the midst of the gathered ones.  It is to miss out on His gift of peace.  It is to miss out on the joy that flows from the sign of His wounds.  It is to miss out on His life-giving, Spirit-giving, breathed out words that sent forth the gift of forgiveness.  And the result of missing out on that is unbelief:

John 20:25

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”  But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

elegon oun autw oi alloi mayhtai ewrakamen ton kurion o de eipen autoiv ean mh idw en taiv cersin autou ton tupon twn hlwn kai balw ton daktulon mou eiv ton tupon twn hlwn kai balw thn ceira mou eiv thn pleuran autou ou mh pisteusw 

When a sheep is lost, the Shepherd goes hunting for it.  Thomas is a lost sheep, lost because He has lost His Lord in the tomb and rejects the
living Spirit words of the living Lord through the instrumentality of the men that the Lord has placed in office to speak peace and forgiveness and joy into him.  He lays his demands down, the terms on which he will believe.  He will not simply be given to.  The Lord lets him stew for a while.

John 20:26 

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them.  Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

kai mey hmerav oktw palin hsan esw oi mayhtai autou kai ywmav met autwn ercetai o ihsouv twn yurwn kekleismenwn kai esth eiv to meson kai eipen eirhnh umin 

Another week, another synaxis.  Gathered in the house and this time, the truant was present.  Doors shut and waiting and there He was, coming to stand among His own on the eighth day which is also the first day, the first day of a new creation and so beyond the limitations of our endless sevens that see us to the grave as the seventh day found him in the grave.  The point beyond the grave is where the Living One stands.  And He stands in the midst, in the synaxis, in the gathering that happens behind the closed doors on Sunday.  That is where He appears to speak his “Peace.”  “The peace of the Lord” says the servant of the Lord.  We answer “Amen” as we stare upon the wounds:  the body and the blood.

John 20:27

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put in my side.  Do not doubt, but believe.”

eita legei tw ywma fere ton daktulon sou wde kai ide tav ceirav mou kai fere thn ceira sou kai bale eiv thn pleuran mou kai mh ginou apistov alla pistov 

It is by the invitation to touch the wounds that Jesus puts unbelief to flight.  As in Luke:  “Touch me and see, a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.  Do you have anything to eat?”  The Passover Lamb bears the marks of his roasting:  the side thrust was linked to it not being his bones that got broken and so the Passover Lamb is what’s hanging on the tree.  That’s who stands among the disciples to call Thomas from the uncertainty of doubt into the assurance of faith:

John 20:28

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 

kai apekriyh o ywmav kai eipen autw o kuriov mou kai o yeov mou 

Can’t get much more at the heart of confessing Christ than that.  It is in the invitation to touch the wounds that faith is strengthened to confess Whose wounds we are touching:  “My Lord and my God.”  The “my” is all important.  The wounds show that.  They were for you and for me.  They make Him ours.

John 20:29

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

legei autw o ihsouv oti ewrakav me ywma pepisteukav makarioi oi mh idontev kai pisteusantev 

Thomas got to see as well as to touch the wounds.  We are pronounced blessed who believe what cannot be seen, but is known only through the words of Jesus.  “Thee we adore, O hidden Savior, thee!” From eyes to ears.  What He says, what His spirit breath breathes out in words of forgiveness, this is the reality that we touch without seeing in the weekly synaxis on the eighth day which is the first day behind closed doors where the Lord still meets His own.  “Blessed” and “believe” at heart mean the same:  “given to.”

John 20:30

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  

polla men oun kai alla shmeia epoihsen o ihsouv enwpion twn mayhtwn autou a ouk estin gegrammena en tw bibliw toutw 

More Jesus than any book could ever hold.  More Jesus than any mind can ever figure out.  More Jesus than we can know and love in an eternity.

John 20:31

But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

tauta de gegraptai ina pisteushte oti o ihsouv estin o cristov o uiov tou yeou kai ina pisteuontev zwhn echte en tw onomati autou 

The Spirit breath living peace words from Jesus are not left to the vagaries of human remembering, but are gifted to us even in a book.  A book whose purpose is that in its being heard, the living Spirit blows through the words of Jesus there to give the faith that holds to Him as the Son of God (indeed, as “my Lord and my God!”) and tastes the life that is given where His name goes on.  So we’re back to the liturgical context at the end:  the baptized people who hunger for the Word that they might grow up in their salvation.  A hunger that the baptized find satiated week by week in the synaxis of the eighth and first day, the day after sabbath, where the One who rested in the tomb shows himself alive behind closed doors and brings joy flowing from His wounds.  


Dominant Thought:  In the Sunday worship of the Church the Risen Lord still shows His wounds to bring joy to His gathered ones as His Spirit/Word renews in His baptized people the gift of life.

Goal:  That the hearers would believe in the unseen realities of how Jesus still is in their midst.

Malady:  Refusing the gifts of the Lord, missing out on the synaxis where Jesus knows how to drive doubts away..

Means/SLOG:  The wounds that flow joy; the Spirit words that call to life.

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