Friday, April 20, 2012

Sermon for 4/15/12--Second Sunday of Easter



John 20:19-31 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. 

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” In other words, the most wonderful good news about Jesus is that He's got holes in Him. The wounds of Christ are your joy and blessing because, in getting those wounds, Jesus saved you from your sins. In keeping those wounds, He showed His disciples that He was the same Jesus who was dead on the cross and now is alive. It is those wounds that Jesus shows to the Father to still His wrath against our sins. And it is those wounds that He shows to you to comfort you against all sin and death. 

Jesus shows His wounds to His disciples. He shows them His hands and His side: the hands where the nails were driven to pin Him to the cross; the side that was pierced to prove that He was indeed dead. If there were no nail and spear holes, if there were no wounds, how could the disciples know that this was really the Jesus who had died? So when Jesus appears, He makes sure to show them where the nails and the spear were. And they rejoiced. They rejoiced because this was proof that the man standing in front of them was no impostor; He was the real Jesus who had been nailed to the cross and died there. Thomas wasn't there the first time; but when he heard about it, he would not believe until he saw the wounds for himself and put his fingers there just to be sure! So the Lord shows His wounds again. 

Jesus also shows His wounds to the Father. The wounds of Jesus tell His Father that you are forgiven. The wounds of Christ are the Lord's eternal reminder to the Father that you are no longer a target for punishment; you are a child of God. As long as Jesus has those wounds, the Father can never condemn you for your sins! After all, the wounds He suffered, the death He underwent, the scars He now bears, are for your sake. Jesus has those holes in Him for you. Jesus was pierced for your sins so that your sins will never pierce you. Jesus carries wounds because He carried your sins so that you won't have to bear them. Jesus, because He is God's Son, can do this. Our sins would kill us. They killed Jesus. But He is alive. And the proof is that the risen Christ who stands among His disciples bears those marks of His suffering death as glorious trophies of His triumph. 

 Jesus shows His wounds to you. He shows them to you by faith. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” You have not seen those wounds with your eyes. But John who was an eyewitness writes that you have victory over the world because of Jesus. You need this victory! This world and your own sins weigh you down. Everyone carries wounds and scars. Sometimes you still have the hurt from what others have done to you. Sometimes you bear the scars of guilt because of what you’ve done to others. Whether they are emotional or physical, your wounds and scars are reminders of the wages of sin. But Christ gives the victory against such things! His wounds of life defeat the power of death. His wounds are your refuge, a place to hide against the world. What can the world do to you? What can the devil say against you? What can your own scars and wounds do? Nothing! But the holes in Jesus' feet and hands and side stand as eternal witness that Christ has defeated the world; and His wounds are the marks of victory for you. 

Christ shows you His wounds by His gifts. You don't see the wounds like Thomas did, but you are shown them by His Word and Sacraments. When God's people complained that they had no hope, Ezekiel was given the vision of the dry bones which were brought back to life by the Spirit of God that was breathed into them. In the same way, when Jesus breathes on His disciples, He is giving them life, and He sends them to deliver the blessings of those wounds to you—first in Baptism, when the water that flowed from His side washed you clean; then in absolution and preaching, the words that apply His victory to your mind and heart; and finally in the Holy Supper of Christ, in which the body that was wounded for you and the blood that poured from those wounds is given you to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins. By these gifts, victory is yours! Death is overcome, and you have hope and comfort in all affliction. 

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the wounds of Jesus are a cause for rejoicing and celebration. They are the holes which prove to Thomas and the disciples that the Jesus who stands before them is the same one they saw crucified. The wounds of Jesus are your protection against the guilt and punishment of sin. Christ's holy wounds are your comfort against all sin and death. Hide there in His wounds! When death frightens you, look to the wounds of Jesus to know that death is powerless. When the devil stalks you, point him to the wounds which defeated Satan. Jesus is the Conqueror of sin and death. By His wounds, you are conquerors of sin and death. By His wounds, you will always recognize the victorious Lamb of God who was slain and reigns now for all eternity. By His wounds, you are healed. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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