I hope you had a happy Quasimodogeniti, the Second Sunday of Easter with perhaps the coolest name in the Church Year (which comes from the Latin for the first words of the Introit of the day from 1 Peter 2:2: “Like newborn infants. . . .). We had another powerful sermon from our pastor, Rev. James Douthwaite, preaching on John 20:19-31:
And the disciples did. Was God with them in that room behind locked doors because God is present everywhere anyway? Sure. But that wasn’t much comfort. Jesus knew they needed not just a “well we know He’s here, somewhere” God, but a “He’s here for me” Saviour. Jesus knew, and so He came. In the flesh. To raise them from their sin and fear to a new life in Him.
And Jesus knows that’s what you need as well. “I know God is with me because He’s present everywhere” just doesn’t cut it when you’re locked in fear and sin and darkness and impending death and God seems a million miles away. Like the young child crying out for mom in the middle of the night, who knows mom’s there, in the house, maybe even right in the next room, but that’s not good enough. That’s a million miles away in child miles. He needs mom there. She needs mom’s touch.
So it was with the disciples; so it is often with us. And so Jesus, who was soon to ascend, not only comes to His disciples, but then send them out to do what He has done for them, to give what He has given to them, and to speak what He has spoken to them. To go to those still behind locked doors, or locked in dying bodies, or those who locked the doors of their hearts in fear, and give them Christ. Not to be a poor substitute, the disciples like the baby sitter who is a poor substitute for mom, but to give them their Saviour. To go to them with Him. With His Spirit and His peace, with His forgiveness and His life, with His presence and His love.
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 anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”
We usually associate those words with Absolution in the church, and rightly so. But they are more than that. They include wherever Christ and His forgiveness and life is given: in absolution, yes, but also in baptism, in the proclamation of the Gospel, and in our Lord’s Supper. Jesus wants His answer, His forgiveness, His victory, His life, Himself, to be given lavishly to people everywhere and in every need, through the means He has established to do just that. And so He sends His disciples into all the world. To bring His Easter to all the world. To a world lying still in death’s strong bands (LSB #458) – those strong bands that Jesus broke and would break for each and every person.
Continued at St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Easter 2 Sermon.