S-1183 2SOE/3C Hymns #(O)#208 vv 1-5; S #208 vv 6-10; L.S. #192; #209; #307; (C)#47
Texts: Acts 5:12-20; Revelation 1:4-18; John 20:19-31
Theme: “Afraid…? (John 20:19-20)
Question: “What Are You Afraid Off?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for meditation for the 2nd Sunday of Easter is from the Gospel lesson: “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” (John 20:19-20)
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, chosen and beloved what are some of your fears? Each of us in this room has fears that shackle us and place us behind doors. Doors built not by carpenters, but by our minds. Some of these fears are so strong that we freeze, become immobile, and loose hope. Some are afraid of the dark and death. Others are afraid of hearing the dreaded word from the doctors office—“it is terminal there is nothing that we can do.” Still others are fearful of loosing a job, home, spouse or your child. Fear grips us, binds us and imprisons us. Though we may not admit it, it is true none-the-less.
This is where we are in our text. The time is Sunday evening after the resurrection. The disciples we are told by John are hiding behind locked doors because they are afraid of the Jews. Fear bound them. Fear drove them into hiding. Fear caused them to loose hope. Talk about fear! It was so real behind those locked doors that first Easter weekend in Jerusalem that you could almost smell it. Just when the disciples were convinced that Jesus was the Son of God, the bottom had dropped out. They had walked with Him and witnessed His words and works. Twice they had even heard the Father call Him “My Son” and seemed to have their answer as to who He was. But then the stone had been rolled before the tomb, shutting in Jesus’ lifeless clay. And another stone, one of fear, had rolled before their hearts shutting out their trust that He was the Son of God.
Now don’t blame these disciples. They had spent 3 wonderful years with their Master and Lord. They had talked with Him, ate with Him, saw Him perform miracles and were taught by Him that He is the Lord who comes to bring salvation. But, they also saw what happened to their Master and Lord, Jesus Christ during Holy week. They had witnessed His arrest, His suffering, His humiliation and some even witnessed His death. They were afraid to get the same thing that their Lord received. But this is Sunday evening now. The Mary’s had told them the Lord has been raised. John and Peter ran to the tomb and saw it empty. But they didn’t believe it. They hid not only behind constructed walls, doors and window but their hearts shut the world outside.
While in hiding, the Risen Lord comes to look for the troubled and fearful disciples. The ten are prisoners of fear and doubt. The fact that Jesus seeks them out and says “Peace be with You!” even though they are filled with doubt and fear tells us something about this mighty, merciful Messiah—His compassion and grace are never short to unlock and remove the doubt from our minds and hearts.
These fearful and bewildered disciples stand with their mouth wide open and say nothing. Envision the scene. There they are huddled behind the closed doors but all of a sudden there is someone in the room with them. Through locked doors Jesus enters into their presence. He comes in the form of flesh that has been dead and is now alive. Jesus comes into that locked room so full of fear and brings PEACE! And this peace is in concrete form. HE IS THE PEACE! The crucified and risen Christ is the ultimate peace for these fearful followers. He looks like Jesus. He sounds like Jesus. And this One has the things that ONLY Jesus can have. He offers them His hands and side. He has all the marks. He IS the Messiah! He is Jesus! HE IS ALIVE!
And if these words—“Peace be upon YOU” is not enough, the resurrected Christ says, “Look, at my pierced side, hands and feet: “It is I! Fear not little flock!” He stands in their midst, alive, bearing the scars of the cross. But these scars are now His badge of honor, for they reveal that the payment has been made in full for all that caused our peace to vanish. The full payment is received in His nail marks, in His pierced side. Surely He was dead – but in His dying, He destroyed death. He stands alive, and so do we!
He declares with creative force, not light out of darkness, but life for death, therefore, “Peace be with YOU!” That is, Peace is Yours, the bad stuff is gone, not a wisp or a whisper remains – He says, “Peace be with you!” and in that He means, “Lo, I am with you. . . always . . . even to the end of the age!”
When you are shackled with fear it is hard to hear the message spoken to you. But Jesus doesn’t stop communicating His grace and love to His troubled and fearful disciples. He shows them the scars and tells them I have overcome the world. He breathes on them and sends them out with power that changed History forever.
It is ironic how quickly things change for these troubled and hiding disciples—they go from fearful to faithful, from cowards to courageous, from bewildered to bold confessors of the faith. The 11 men understood the true meaning of peace. Peace is found in the love of God who sent His Son to die for all of our sins. Jesus’ death on the cross brought about peace between God and man. This peace is not only for the disciples but all who trust in Him. Even the apostle John said: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).
Having comforted their hearts and heads with His presences the Risen Lord Jesus sends His disciples out to work for Him. He breathed on them and told them to forgive others in His name and to take the message to every corner of the world. PAUSE.
My beloved are you afraid? Stop being fearful! Hear the One who said, MY PEACE I GIVE TO YOU. Do you have doubts? By faith be like Thomas who said, “My Lord and My God!” When Christ comes into our shackled hearts, He drives out fear and doubt and in its place, places faith and security.
No need to be afraid—in Me the Risen Lord there is pardon and peace. No need to doubt—Jesus the Risen Lord says in Me there is hope and heaven. In Me the Risen Lord states, no need to worry or lose sleep because I have loved you and forgiven you all of your sins. Today, the Risen Lord proved His love for you by seeking you out. Even here in this place, the Risen Lord Jesus comes to us with His Word and Sacrament and gives us His peace in the Meal of peace.
The Risen Lord gives us the Word in which we find confidence. The Word is not only a message from long ago, but something alive and active right now. The Word has power because it is God’s Word. Through it He comes into our “locked rooms” of doubt. He unlocks the doors and leads us out into fresh joy and freedom and hope.
Faithful followers of the Risen Lord hear Him well today, again: “My peace I give to you” Instead of fear in our hearts the Risen Lords places His love and peace for now and forever. Amen.
Now the peace of God…