THE 3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER AD 2018
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!"  But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.  And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."  And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?"  They gave him a piece of broiled fish,  and he took it and ate before them. Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,  and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,  and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed
with power from on high."
It’s about 3 inches long right here between two ribs on my right side. It’s healed up nicely but it’s still rather noticeable. Yet you won’t see me going to get any laser treatment to fade it or rubbing any vitamin E into it to make it less noticeable. No, I treasure that scar. It’s a constant reminder that that troublesome hole in my heart has been sewn shut. Getting it done was no picnic, but that scar is the most beautiful mark on my body, because it stands as a constant testimony to the truth that God has healed my heart.
They were troubled and doubts arose in their hearts because they thought they were seeing a ghost. And so He showed them his hands and feet. Why? So that they could see the scars. Why? So they would know that He wasn’t a spirit … so that they would know that it was Him … so that they would know that He was the same person who was crucified three days earlier … so that they would know that He had really risen from the dead. He invites them to touch and feel Him to further back this up. And when their hearts still hold back because it seems far to wonderful, He asks for food and eats in front of them.
Ghosts don’t have flesh and blood. Ghost’s don’t have scars. Ghost’s don’t eat fish. Christ stands before His disciples in His own flesh and blood. The same flesh and blood that was conceived and born of the virgin Mary. The same flesh and blood that was hung on the cross. The same flesh and blood that was wrapped up and laid in the tomb. He doesn’t stand before them as a spirit, although as very God of very God He is Spirit. He doesn’t stand before them as a bodiless soul, although as true man He has a soul. He doesn’t stand before them as an angel because He never became one. He doesn’t stand before them in some new different body. He still has the same true and complete human nature that He took up in Mary. He doesn’t have some new model.
No, it is His body. Resurrected to never die again, but it is the same flesh and blood that He had before. The scars leave no room for doubt about it. His still heart beats again. His quiet lungs breath again. His closed eyes see again. His silent voice speaks again. His closed mouth eats again. A new model could do all that but it wouldn’t have the scars. One thing we need to be perfectly clear about, beloved, is that Jesus rises in His own body. That’s the certain testimony of the apostles who saw the scars and even touched them. Which is something for us, who will share in a resurrection like His, to ponder. That’s what our baptism promises and what faith wants to hold on to, which should make us think about what’s done with our bodies when we fall asleep at the end of life.
In the resurrection it is this heart that will beat again … these lungs that will breath again … these eyes that will see again … this voice that will speak again … this mouth that will eat again. I will not get some new body that has nothing to do with this one, that I was born with and lived and died in. From my dust God will recreate me, that might be hard to wrap my head around, but with God all things are possible. My body will be free of sin and death, but it will be my body. The scars on the resurrected Jesus leave us in no doubt about it, which is why Christians have always laid their bodies to rest at the end of life just as God created them. They have laid them to rest as Christ was laid to rest, in the truth that because He lay in a tomb, He has made our graves like his own - resting places for our bodies until God by His almighty power raises them up again.
And so He showed them His hands and His feet. Why? So that they could see the scars. Why? So that they would know that He was the One who had truly entered death for them and conquered it. He showed them His scars so that they would know that He was the one who was truly dead but now was alive forevermore. He showed them His scars so that they would know that He was the One who held the keys of death and hades in His hands. He showed them the scars so that they would know that He was the One who was truly crushed for their iniquities and that His chastisement had brought them peace. He showed them the scars so that they would know that He really had finished it all for them. He showed them death’s marks on His living flesh so that there could be no doubt that He had faced it down and overcome it.
And He showed them His hands and His feet. Why? So that they could see the scars. Why? So that they might know that He had won a complete and total victory. He shows them his scars as Jesus of Nazareth and He owns them as the great I AM of Israel. He didn’t have to keep them. He could have set them aside. But no, beloved, He keeps those scars for our sake, as a constant reminder of His crucifixion … as a constant reminder of what He endured … as a constant reminder of what He accomplished for us. What He endured was horrific - a horror that none other has or ever will know. He bore the sin of all and so endured the death of all and the hell of all. The poor pope has recently spouted off some nonsense that there is no hell, which I guess according to him would mean that Christ didn’t endure it, which makes me wonder what you do with Jesus’ cry, “Eli Eli lama Sabachthani - My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”
No, there is a hell, beloved, created for Satan and his angels not because God wanted anyone to go there but so that they wouldn’t. Hell wasn’t created for punishment, hell was created for repentance. Hell was not created to lock us away from God but to turn us back to Him. God doesn’t create anyone for hell. He doesn’t want anyone to go there. The scars in Christ’s hands leave us in no doubt about that. Why would God damn His own Son to save us all from hell, if He wanted to send anyone there? Yes, beloved, we need to pray for the poor pope and anyone else who believes his nonsense. Because if you can’t believe in a hell how can you believe in a God who endured it for us. Denying the existence of hell takes away some of the beauty from those scars as it diminishes the love that took them on for us.
And He showed the disciples His hands and feet. Why? So that they would see the scars. Why? Because they are the answer? To what? Everything. Everything for them. Everything for us. Does God love me? See the scars. Will God provide for me? See the scars. Will God protect me? See the scars. Does God forgive me? See the scars. Has God saved me? See the scars. Am I going to heaven? See the scars. Will I rise from the dead? See the scars. Did God care about those boys killed in Humbolt Saskatchewan? See the scars. Why didn’t He do something? See the scars.
True to His promise, that wherever two or three are gathered in His name, the Lord Jesus is with us this morning to show us His hands and His feet in His Word and in His flesh and blood. And in whatever it might be that we’re wrestling with, wether it’s worry or fear, hurt or grief, guilt or shame, uncertainty or doubt, He invites each and every one of us to look on His hands and His feet and see the answer that we need written in His scars. How beautiful they are! Indeed. Amen.