The 2nd Sunday of Easter AD 2021
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Kurt E. Reinhardt
John 20:19-29 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.
Well, here we are, ordered to stay at home again. Yea, we hoped that the last time would be the last time, but fear over rising virus numbers and filling hospital and ICU beds has shut us in behind closed doors again. So much for the softer shut-down in place of a nastier lock-down! Yea, ordered to stay at home, what was known as being grounded when I was a kid, that’s not nice at all, and carries with it the whole idea that you have been very bad. Whether we have been very bad or not it certainly makes it clear that things, at least in the minds of our Chief Medical Officers and government, are very bad.
No, everyone hasn’t been ordered to stay in their own rooms, yet, although perhaps I shouldn’t say that too loudly or it might give them ideas, but yes, we’ve been ordered home again! Whether that’s a good or bad idea is not my job to say or my call to make, God has given that authority to others, and yes, as long as it doesn’t cause me to go against His commands, I’ll do my best to obey them. But, yea, it’s getting more than just a little tiresome and trying to keep having to go through this over and over again. While I pray that this will be the last time, the hope that it will be, is all but dead within me.
Shut in behind locked doors with all our fears and doubts, yes, as we did on the 2nd Sunday of Easter last year, once again we have just a thing or two in common with the disciples these days. Yes, they feared something different and they struggled with a different kind of doubt and dead hope but their fears, doubts and dead hopes were just as persistent and real as our own beloved. No, we don’t fear the Jews anymore, but the death that the disciples feared at their hands is still roaming around out there, and it is in the end what has caused us to be ordered into our homes behind closed doors.
Death of course is always out there, even if we put it out of our heads, so that we can get on with our daily lives, but things like a mob that murdered your Master, or a virulent virus stalking in the darkness, make it a lot harder to ignore. Sure, day by day there are things like tragic car accidents, house fires, heart attack, stroke and cancer, that could all bring death to us out of nowhere, but the recent crucifixion of your beloved teacher or the constant news barrage about, and recurring stay at home orders in connection with, the new deadlier and more contagious variants of concern make it rather difficult to put out of your mind.
And fears and doubts? Yea, you don’t need the horrors of the crucifixion of someone that you loved or an over year long pandemic with its rotating, crippling and demoralizing health measures to give you those, do you? No, from the moment that we can feel them and have them, we’ve felt them and had them. Fear goes hand in hand with a sin broken creation, as do doubts with a lie filled world. Fearing what might lie ahead and what could happen? Yes, we all know that from early on? Doubting, questioning God and what He’s up to? Yes, that’s there to from the first time that things don’t go the way that we think that they should go.
No, you don’t need reports of a possibly vaccine resistant strain of Covid being studied in Tokyo hospitals to amp up your fear, although it certainly doesn’t do anything for your sense of personal peace. And no, you don’t need another stay at home order for you to lift your eyes to heaven and ask, “What more Lord?” and “How long?” No there are plenty of other things in this sin broken lie filled world to steal your personal peace and make your hearts question and doubt. many of you are wrestling with just such other things, even in the midst of this global pandemic, even as I am wrestling with them right along beside you. A lot in common, yea, we’ve got a lot in common this morning with the apostles and poor doubting Thomas.
A lot in common, the fears and the doubts, yes, but also the peace and the answers with Jesus. As surely as He came to the fearful doubting disciples week after week to stand amongst them with His peace and to overcome their doubts with His truth, the Lord has not failed to visit His people in the flesh and blood wherever they have gathered by twos or threes in His name - or as we are today by the 30’s to bestow that same peace on them and overcome their doubts with His truth. The Lord Jesus stands before you today, beloved, at the altar. He is there for us as a group with all our shared fears and doubts in what we are going through together, as He is there for each of us on our own, like He was for Thomas, with all our personal fears and doubts.
The Lord Jesus, as very God of very God knows everything that’s going in your hearts and minds with all that you’ve got going on in your lives right now, beloved. While as man, He knows and understands it all because He has felt and wrestled with it all for you. As your Saviour He does not come to you in judgement for any of it, but in mercy, to forgive what is sinful and to strengthen and uphold what is weak and failing. He is here because He knows that you need Him. He is here because He cannot and will not fail you. He is here because He loves you. Look on the nail wounds in His hands and gaze at the spear wound in His side as He comes to you in His flesh and blood and be at peace in His life death and resurrection for you, and doubt not but believe in Him, and all that He can and will do for you.
Yes, beloved, we’ve been ordered to stay at home again but thanks be to God the Son has come from His home to be with us again too. Hear Him as He spreads out His nail scarred hands to you, “Peace be with you.” He says, “Do not disbelieve but believe. I am your Risen Lord I will see you through all that you are going through. I am your God and I will save you.” Amen.