Text: John 20:19-31
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19 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.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
In our epistle for today in 1 John we read:
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
And John also concludes his epistle letter with this affirmation:
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God … so that you may know that you have eternal life.
The Peace of the Lord is yours!
19 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.”
Jesus had been crucified and buried. There had been despair among the disciples. Word had come that his body had been stolen; some reports say he has been raised from the dead. Confusion and uncertainty were rampant.
You should remember that these disciples had not stood firm with Jesus during his hour of need.
Some had fallen asleep when he went to pray,
some had abandoned him for fear
and even Peter had denied knowing him.
Now on Sunday evening, the evening of the day of his resurrection, these same disciples came together in an upper room. The door is locked because they too fear the Jewish authorities, and who knows … maybe these same Jews are looking for them as well?
So, they abandoned Jesus …
they hid during his trial …
they left him to suffer alone and in this locked room …
Jesus now is standing before them.
Not off in the distance where you can’t quite make him out,
not appearing to be the gardener as Mary Magdalene had thought
but, in their midst, right there with them.
They might have thought, “What will he say to us who have deserted him?”
His zeal for his father’s house was known to them as they were there as he sent the money changers fleeing and scattered the wears of those selling in the courts of the Temple. What kind of fire would he call down from heaven upon them who had left him ... to die alone? Certainly, the sons of thunder were not now making any requests to sit on his left or right in his Kingdom.
And then Jesus speaks his first words to them. “Peace be with you.” Not just the traditional greeting of Shalom as Jews were known to great one another but the Peace that passes all human understanding, the words of absolution from Jesus himself – your sins are forgiven.
Peace between God and man, Christ and his disciples, God’s peace also for you and me who all now by faith have access to this same peace.
This peace is real. God has made what we could never make possible a reality. Now he brings this reality to you and me through his means.
Jesus showed them his hands and his side, the reality of his death was there, the holes in his hands and feet, the mark in his side from the spear, all those remaining marks of his finished work for you and me were there, and he says and again brings the words of comfort.
“Peace be with you.” But now gives the means of this gift for the world’s salvation. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
Christ Jesus here gives the work of the ministry to these disciples, these 10 men in this upper room - Judas having fled and taken his life in despair and Thomas not yet here among them.
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
The work of the ministry, given by Jesus, to those who stand in the stead and by the command of Christ brings true peace … because it is Christ’s peace spoken as if he spoke it himself to you.
It is a true absolution, not because the men who stand in the place and by the command of Christ, stand of their own accord, but because they stand as called and ordained servants of the word, they do what Christ does and commands.
It is his words of peace, it is his words of forgiveness,
and it is his words of comfort spoken by those called to stand as under shepherds of the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ himself.
Peace is a gift but it also has a cost.
Jesus is both the gift and the price that was paid to procure your peace and your salvation. In Baptism, we too who are brought to the font at baptism receive that same gift.
It is Christ who baptizes through the hands of those same called and ordained servants. It is not my baptism but Christ’s done through the hands of those he has called.
We who have been baptized have all received that same gift.
In Baptism we are once again given that pristine state and standing with God that Adam and Eve had before the fall. But God’s creation, as we know is still covered by the wages of sin which bring death. At times the word of God’s Law must be spoken, to point us all to our sinful state, so that we might be brought to repentance. But God’s absolution and forgiveness is certain for those who repent, so that we might live redeemed, in the midst of a world broken by the fall.
Do not remain in doubt like Thomas, “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.”
But even for Thomas only eight short days later Jesus said, “Peace be with you.” 27 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.”
The same forgiveness that the others received, Thomas also received.
We all as baptized children of God have that same Peace with God through Christ’s merit.
We can remember our baptisms daily knowing for certain that it is Christ himself who baptizes and give the Holy Spirit so that we all can believe and trust in his finished work.
No matter the trials of this life whether work loss, addiction or doubt - Christ is here each week … at Peace … to greet you with the comforting absolution of his forgiveness.
And like Thomas we too can say in response, “My Lord and my God!” Knowing for certain just as Jesus said, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The Peace of the Lord is yours!
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.