Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Creston, Iowa
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:19–31, ESV)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jesus barges in on the disciples, doors locked, huddled in, hunkered down, in quite hiding. They are afraid of the Jews. They are afraid of the cross. Afraid of being discovered. You can imagine them in the pale darkness of dusk, doors and windows locked, not wanting to light the lamps for fear of being found. At that moment, everything Jesus taught and did, didn't mean a thing. After all he was dead. The establishment has won. All of their master's accomplishments were locked in the darkness of the tomb, where Jesus lay.
Jesus beaks in...
He interrupts their fear, their sorrow, their doubt. He appears behind locked doors. He passes through walls. He doesn't need an invitation. He doesn't need the key. He is the key. He is alive. His first words to them bring them what they need. Peace, shalom, and end to turmoil, anxiety. He shows his fatal wounds. His hands and feet and the spear. He is the one who was dead. He is alive again. It was just as he said,
So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22, ESV)
They were 'glad' when they saw Jesus. They did rejoice in their hearts. And there is more there than realizing that Jesus isn't dead. I'm sure it took time for it all to sink in. Jesus is alive. He was dead. He is alive. He conquers his enemies. He conquers his cross. He conquers his grave. He is alive. They are full of fear. They are full of sorrow. All fear and sorrow evaporates in Jesus. He offers peace, shalom.
Do you see how he gives is?
“Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The cross is it. Forgiveness is it. When we look at the cross and see a dead Jesus on in, we are seeing forgiveness. We are seeing the peace that he brings. When we look at the risen Lord with nail prints in his hands and feet, and a spear hole in his side we are looking at forgiveness. We are seeing the peace that he brings. That's what Jesus means when he says peace, shalom. He connects it to the cross. When Jesus barges in he is interrupting doubt, and pain, and sorrow and fear.
Jesus breaks in...
Through all your barriers to bring peace. You may be huddling behind pain and sorrow, loss, or facing death. You may be huddling against your enemies, sin, death and hell, viruses, fellow employees, family members who ridicule, neighbors, or even God himself. In the midst of all this Jesus breaks through all these barriers and brings peace to your fear. You have good reason to fear. All hell has broken loose. It comes from inside of you. It comes from the world around you. It comes from the old evil lion who stalks around seeking someone to devour. This is the "Unholy Trinity", our mortal enemies, our sinful nature, the world, and Satan. And these all threaten. These are evident in your life. Sin, death and evil are there daily. And you are the target, to be dragged to hell.
But Jesus breaks in...
This is what God does. We have it in spades in Jesus. He breaks every barrier. He defeats every enemy. He shows you his hands, and his feet and his side. These are the marks of God's great love. These are the testimonies to you of what he has done for you. The pain and death of the cross break through to life and freedom. This is the forgiveness of sins...
Sin is the big barrier, the mother of all barriers. Sin bears itself out inside of you as you struggle to do the right thing and fail. Sin bears in the world out in the world as it pressures you to deny all that God says is right. Sin is what the Accuser holds against you as he whispers the truth of it in your ear, trying to get you to believe that God has no way of restoring you. Sin is the barrier between you and God. And sin bears death on its shoulders and delivers it to you as just punishment.
But Jesus breaks in... with forgiveness.
Forgiveness of sins is what God delivers through Jesus, his Word and his Sacraments. Peace. Shalom. His hands and feet, and side show you what is yours, what should be yours, but what is now his. Fear is no longer necessary. No more hunkering down in the dark. No more listening to the inner voice, or the outer voice or the satanic voice for false comfort. Forgiveness of sins restores the One True Voice.
Jesus [says to you], “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one [not sin, death nor the power of the Devil] will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27–28, ESV)
Jesus breaks in... with forgiveness.
He breaks in to the world. Your neighbors, your friends, your enemies are huddled in fear behind barriers. Jesus breaths on you The Holy Spirit. Through him the way, the truth and the life are with you always. The forgiveness he gives to you is given to give away. All you do is take your finger and point to the hands, the feet and the side of the Savior. All you do is point to the place where the Word of God dwells. All you do is speak the truth.
Jesus breaks in... Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.