THE 2ND SUNDAY OF EASTER AD 2019
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
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 anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, 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.
Patience. What is it? Patience is what you’re supposed to have when your baby is waking up all hours of the night. Patience is what you’re supposed to have when your kids are endlessly bickering in the back seat on your summer road trip. Patience is what you’re supposed to have when your husband or wife is taking forever to get at what you asked them to do. Patience is what you’re supposed to have when you’re waiting for surgery or are recovering from it. Patience is what you’re supposed to have when people insist on stopping at the yield sign at the roundabout in Listowel, even when there’s not another car in sight.
Patience. What is it? For many of us patience is something that we tend to recognize by its absence rather than its presence. We know when it’s not there when we are easily frustrated, irritable and snappish. Many different things can drive it away, like worry and fear, pain and suffering, exhaustion and of course frustrating people - aka - “bloomin idiots” in Reinhardt family lingo. Of course, you may have other more, or less, charitable names for the people who put your patience to the test, making you lose the last shreds of it. That is how we speak of it though isn’t it? They make us lose our patience. We like it better that way because then our impatience is their fault.
But you see, as God’s children patience is supposed to be our response to such frustrating people. If they weren’t frustrating no patience would be required. As God is patient with us, He asks us to be patient with others. In fact, the frustrating people that pass through our lives at the roundabout, or even those who are permanent fixtures in them, are a gift from our Heavenly Father to live out the patience that He has with us, with them. It’s a gift that in our sinfulness we may at times wish to return unopened to the Sender, but it is a gift nonetheless, and perhaps all the more needed the less that it’s wanted. The God of love is patient. That without question is made positively clear in the locked up room this morning.
Frustrating? Yes, with all that He had told them, shown them, revealed to them, you could say that the those huddling behind locked doors in Jerusalem for fear of the Jews, could have been a cause for some frustration for the Lord Jesus, especially, on that second Sunday. And mouthy Thomas with his doubt and demands? Irritating? Annoying? A bit much? You bet! And yet see the loving patience of the Lord Jesus as He greets them each time, not a la Reinhardt, with a “You blooming idiots!” but a tender and patient “Peace be with you.” And what of Thomas? Does he get the smack up side the back of the head that he deserved? No, but a gentle, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
Without question the disciples and especially Thomas, pushed the Lord’s patience far beyond what mine could ever bear, which I must tell you is a great source of comfort to me, because it reassures me of just how long-suffering the dear Saviour is with a poor miserable sinners like me, who let fear lock them up in so many ways because faith is so poor and feeble in them. And His tenderness with Thomas and his doubts, yes, what a blessing that is too, for poor sinners like me, who wrestle with questions and doubts, who want answers and proof. Yes, it’s easy to see just how frustrating the disciples would be to any of us, but they are there in all their frailty to highlight the merciful patience of Jesus with poor sinners, so that “blooming idiots’ like me might hope in Him.
Have you given Jesus cause to lose patience with you this past week? With the echoes of the joyful good news of His resurrection repeating in your mind and heart, have you lived each day in its truth and what it means for you as a child of God? Have you allowed the fear of anything other than the Lord to have any hold on your mind or heart? Has the world and its terrorists given you even the slightest of pauses, as the images of those bombed out Sri Lankan churches have come onto your screens? What about the decision of the archbishop to suspend all Masses in that land in response? Did you sympathize with that decision or see it as a sad step away from the way of the true Church? Have you stood firm in the truth that Christ’s empty tomb leaves no doubt about the fact, that He has overcome the world, or are you still thinking that it’s a good idea to lock yourself away from it?
When it comes to giving an answer for the hope that you have in Christ, which I hope you do know that you’re supposed to ever be ready to give, have you not only been ready and willing but even longing for an opportunity to give it? Or have you been hoping that it wouldn’t come up, so that you can keep safely tucked away behind your inner locked doors, rather than run the risk of being exposed as a serious and devout Christian? In light of all that’s happened in Sri Lanka, have you seen the arrival of so many Muslim immigrants in our land as an incredible opportunity for us to share the good news of Christ with them, or have you thought it would be much better for us to keep ourselves safe by locking up our borders?
Or have you joined Thomas in leaving behind the way of faith and trust for the one of questioning and doubt? With all that seems to be going so terribly wrong in our world, have you been ok with carrying on in the truth that our risen victorious Lord has it all under control, or have you thought that He should prove it by straightening a few things out? But that would mean setting aside His patience, beloved, which is something we ought to remember when we’re in the midst of being so impatient with Him. Have you been content to believe without seeing, or do you wish you had a bit more visible proof of the power of Christ’s resurrection in your life, the lives of others or in the world?
Now, I can’t answer for you, other than saying that I do know that each of you is a sinner, and so can’t have it all together when it comes to the faith department. I can, however, confess for myself that I have no doubts that I test the Lord’s patience over and over again and definitely belong in the “blooming idiot” category. What a blessing then is it to see the tender long-suffering patience of the Lord Jesus in that locked room with his disciples this morning, that I might not doubt but believe, that this is the same way that He greets each and everyone of us as He comes to us here today.
As deserved as it might be, “You blooming idiots” is not what comes from the lips of the Lord Jesus to each one of us this morning but “Peace be with you. My poor, poor little ones. Why do you doubt? Why do you fear? See I am risen and I am with you. Do not disbelieve but believe. Receive me as I come to you in forgiving love in my flesh and blood and know that I cannot and will not fail you.” Amen.