Service for April 19, 2020

Posted on 19 Apr 2020, Pastor: Randy Sturzenbecher

Easter 2  April 19th, 2020  FB live only

In the Name of +Jesus+ Amen.

We Pray.  Holy Father you have loved us through the cross of Jesus.  Strengthen us now with the preaching of Your Word so that we might live in the peace and joy of those who saw our resurrected Christ.   In Jesus Name. Amen.

Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!   It’s the first Sunday after Easter.  Jesus appears to the disciples again on this Sunday like He did last Sunday.  Our buddy Thomas is there with them this time.

You think you know where this is going, don’t you?   Let’s beat up, Thomas.  Let’s make today about Thomas unbelief, his doubt, and fear.  Let’s beat him up and all of the rest of us because of our very own doubt and fear and sin. 

Well, we could do that………  but then last Sunday, Easter Sunday the day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  really did not sink in very well did it? 

Instead, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus.  Let’s look at what happens when people, broken fearful, doubting, not understand people see and hear the resurrected Christ. 

The Women

It’s 3 days after Jesus gave His life up for us on the cross.  Mary Magdalene,  Joanna, and Mary Jesus’ mother and a few others came to the tomb.  That’s where you go to find a dead man.   The Angels greet them, with the words angels have to say to us.  Do not be afraid.  You seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here.  He is risen!  They looked in the tomb.  They saw the evidence.  The grave clothes were still there.  They left the grave quickly and went to tell the disciples……with FEAR, trembling and astonishment.  

What they saw makes no sense.  Huge stones stay where they are put. Dead men stay dead.  And doubting, confused, trembling people stay that way………  Unless Jesus is who He said He is,…..the one who comes to break our darkness.    Unless Jesus did what He said He would do, ……. Rise from the dead!  Beat sin death and the devil and forgive all our sins

It should not surprise us at all that the women left the tomb in fear.  That is the natural reaction when our sin is challenged with the promises of Easter. 

Fear seeks to control us.

 Fear wants us to stay where we are.

Fear wants us to believe there is no hope. 

Fear tries to convince us all is lost.          You can see that tension between fear and great joy, in the woman at the tomb. 

Fear would have us believe; things will never get better.  You can hear that when people say “I guess this is the new normal”.  You can also hear fear trying to control you when you say to yourself,  “You will always be a terrible person because of your sin”.  How could you ever be forgiven for what you have done”. 

The women left the tomb in fear, that is true, ……..but also with GREAT JOY!!   Easter Joy because the promises Jesus made were true.  He had risen just as He said.  And at that moment when they realized Jesus was alive and death could not hold Him, fear gave way to Easter Joy and hope!  

 

The Disciples

The Easter morning disciples were no different than the women.  They were“Locked in a room for fear of the Jews”, and probably a little afraid of Jesus too.  They had failed Him at the cross.  Peter had outright denied Jesus 3 times, and the rest of the disciples ran and hid.    

 I’m sure they were wrestling with the question “If Jesus came to us now what would he come to do”?   Would we be chewed out for not being stronger?   Would Jesus come to punish us or kick them out and disband the disciples?

And what if Jesus was still dead?  The last three years would have been a waste.  They would be laughed at for being so gullible.  What would they do now?  How would they survive?  What would people think of them?  

When we are in uncertain times, ….like we are now we are continually confronted by the what-ifs.  All the what-ifs feed on fear.   

We have all been there, and that is where the Disciples were on Easter morning.  Jesus’ resurrection stops the what-ifs.   The uncertainty of the future is stopped by the certainty of Jesus’ resurrection and His promises to you. 

The full payment for every sin and fear that would try to trap you in the what-ifs has been paid for by Jesus’ death on the cross.    

When Jesus rose He appeared to the disciples.  His first words to them were not to tear them down and remind them of their failures.  They were Easter words.  Words of hope and forgiveness.  Jesus said to them Peace be with you.  This wasn’t just a way to break the ice, like hey guys what’s up!   It was an Easter morning……, sin’s forgiven,……  proclamation for the disciples, and us.  Peace be with you! 

The cross, and the tomb, could not hold back the Risen Christ from bringing Peace for troubled,…… fearful,……. consciences.  The what-ifs that run circles in our brains when things go from bad to worse are stopped by the Risen Christ and His words of Peace to you.  

Dear Child of God you are Forgiven, that’s what Peace be with you means!   Jesus’ death on the cross was not to remind you of your sin and drive you to work harder to be better.  You can’t do that anymore than you can choose to come alive after you are dead.  

Jesus’ death was to pay for your sins.  

His resurrection is proof of His victory. 

His words of Peace be with you leave no place for what-ifs or guilt over past sins.    

Jesus’ resurrection has paid the price for all your fear.

 The what-ifs that we love to spin out were washed away when blood and water came from Jesus’ pierced side.   His Easter words, Peace be with you,…….. are all gifts!  Jesus’ Easter words are absolute certainty for each one of us.  

The Emmaus Disciples

Easter evening Jesus was with two men walking to Emmaus.  They were disappointed, to say the least.  They thought this Jesus of Nazareth was going to be the one to redeem Israel.  Instead, they saw Him arrested and crucified.  The religious leaders were the ones inciting the angry mobs, adding to their disappointment and confusion.    Everything was upside down, nothing made sense and they were left with broken hopes and dreams and bitter disappointment.

 As Jesus walks with them. He begins to teach them all the Scriptures that pointed to Him as the Messiah.   When evening came,….. and He broke bread with them,… they recognized Jesus as their promised Messiah, risen from the dead, after all.  How their hearts burned within them.   Their disappointment turned into hope and joy by Jesus teaching them the Scriptures and breaking bread with them. 

Thomas

That brings us to Thomas.  His sin did what sin tries to do to all of us.  It tried to separate him from Jesus.  His not believing the events of the resurrection separated him from the disciple that first Easter morning.  His unbelief is so strong he puts Jesus on the defensive.  “I will not believe unless I touch the wounds myself”. 

Putting the Lord your God to the test is a dangerous thing, always.

But look,  look how Jesus responds.   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.” 

Jesus meets Doubting Thomas with Mercy.  

The same way He met all the others on that first Easter morning. Fear, disappointment, denial plagued them all.  And what happened when they were in the presence of Jesus? Fear is cast out. Joy is given. Thomas is converted. The Disciples rejoice.  Holy Spirit is given.   Not to mention all their sins are forgiven.  Their death has died with Jesus! 

These things are the result of Easter.  These things are what happens when we are in the presence of the Risen Christ. 

Fear discouragement disappointment, even outright unbelief, and denial cannot exist where faith in the risen Christ and the Easter promises of,….. Do not fear and,…… Peace be with you exist. 

Thomas answered Jesus  “My Lord and my God!” That is a joyful, confident repentant Easter confession of Jesus. 

Dear Baptized saints, it was not just Thomas that was struggling, with the sin of unbelief, with fear and disappointment, it was the women at dawn, the disciples locked in the upper room.   It was the men walking to Emmaus and it’s us.    Our risen Lord comes to us the same way He came to Thomas,  in-person inviting us to take and drink His very body and blood. 

Jesus comes to us in Mercy.  He does not chase us away and tell us to get over whatever is bothering us.  He comes as the Victor over fear with this proclamation.   Peace be with you!

Yes, this Easter proclamation is for you.  Christ is Risen.   He is risen indeed Alleluia.  That joyful, hopeful reality is for you, to change your fear and disappointment into joy and hope.   

   In the Name of +Jesus+ Amen.

Now, the peace that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord!  Amen.