Monday, May 18, 2015

“Numbers of Hope-8” (John 20:26)

S-1492 2SOE/3B 4/12/2015 Hymns: (O) #208; (S) #208; LS #32 SOD; #201; #307; (C) #203

Texts: Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31

Theme: “Numbers of Hope-8” (John 20:26)

8th sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text is from the Gospel lesson: “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.’” (John 20:26)

People of the Cross, you, who have been purchased with the crimson blood of the Savior, by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit we have been brought to this glorious house to hear once more the marvelous victory Christ won for us as He rose from the grave on the third day. Last week we assembled in a holy assembly and shouted to the world: “Christ is Risen!” and you responded “He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!” What a glorious celebration that still IS.

Because of Christ’s victory over the grave, you and I as blood-bought children of the heavenly Father have hope—living and eternal hope that is based on a past event that secures our present reality and guarantees our Future eternity.

Today, as we are gathered once again in this holy assembly, we consider one final number in our sermon series on the Numbers of hope—the number 8. 8 Is another number given by the great Mathematician—Jesus Christ who helps us see this number in a new and profound way and demonstrate again His hope to people like us; who once were without hope and help. In Holy Scripture the number 8 appears at least 119 times.

John the Gospel writer of the text tells us that “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.’” The peace-maker and the peace-bringer steps into the room and lives of His frightful apostles and offers them shalom-peace.

Eight days later Jesus appears again to His disciples. 8 days after the resurrection from the grave Jesus reveals His mighty power and the joy that fills every heart that is burdened with fear and dread. The 8th day is the day of resurrection and the life—a day beyond time and eternity. Into the life of death and destruction there comes a day without night and where the sun is always bright. This day is a day of freedom and rejoicing. This day is a day filled with peace that surpasses all understanding. #8 is a number that points to “New Beginnings” made possible through Jesus Christ. PAUSE.

Louis Zamperini had this kind of new beginning. He was a long distance track runner and was on the 1936 USA Olympic team. At the Games in Berlin, he was America’s top finisher in the event, covering the final lap in an astounding 56 seconds. He was the favorite to win the 5000 meter run in the 1940 Olympics in Japan. But because of WWII, He joined the U.S. Air Corps as a bombardier.

In 1942 on a routine reconnaissance run, his aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean, and Louis and another crew member, survived in a life raft for 47 days, drifting 2000 miles into Japanese controlled waters. His rescuers were also his torturers, as the Japanese put Louis into a series of prison camps. His life was hanging in the balance. Daily he thought that this could be his final day on earth. But by the grace of God a little after 2 years he was delivered from this torturous nightmare and returned home to a hero’s welcome.

The day of deliverance from the prison cell, the cruel torture, the starvation, the disease, and the possibility of Louis’ death; was his 8th day. Thanks to the brave men and women of the Armed forces Louis was given a new lease on life and He never forgot the blessings He received. Later on, having tasted the sweetness of the Gospel of Jesus, he decided to become a missionary to Japan, preaching the gospel of forgiveness to the very guards who had tormented him during the war. PAUSE.

That is precisely what the Savior has done for us with the 8th day—gave us hope eternal. Throughout Holy Scripture the number 8 is a revealed in a fabulous and blessed way. We are told in Genesis of God’s command to Abraham, that every son born in his house or slave must be circumcised on the 8th day (17:12). On that not insignificant 8th day, the son became part of the family-covenant with Yahweh. This was no mere rite. It was like adoption and acceptance all wrapped up in one. That is how big that 8th day was to a son of Abraham!

Jesus being a son of Abraham is also circumcised on the 8th day. By this act, Jesus was giving the down payment for what He will do on the cross of Calvary 3 decades later. On Good Friday, His blood spilled from the cross, washing away the sins of all people and giving them new life in Him. Life that is hope-filled and help-offered.

We should remember that History began when Adam became liable to death. History ended when the new Adam, Christ our Lord came forth triumphant over death. Now we are no longer counted among the dead. Now we only know Christ the life of all the living. We have come forth from the water of the New Testament’s circumcision of the heart from the font on the eighth day. Christ rested in His tomb on the Sabbath. He rose again on the day that follows the Sabbath, which is the 8th day. After it no other day is counted. We now live in the presence of Him who lives in the eternal “Now;” for whom there is neither yesterday, nor tomorrow. Today is the day of our salvation. It is the 8th day. No other day exists.

That is why many churches’ baptismal fonts are 8 sided. To confess to them and the world the new life they have in Christ. In 1 Peter we hear this blessed truth: because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ..” (3:20-22).

This is the joy of living in the presence of the One who enters our lives and removes the fears and doubts and gives us His peace. Jesus is the One who makes the 8th day special because it comes after the perfect 7 in which and by which He rested in the grave for 3 days.

There never was any other way to find rest than to have it given by Christ. The rest to which He pointed in Genesis now takes its full meaning at Easter. Powered by sin, the crushing burden of the law had worked its worst upon Him: it was justice itself, with all of its wrathful authority against sin that worked death in the One who could not die. Though His arms were pinned by the cross in the embrace of death, He took sin by the throat; He looked it in the face and did it to death with Him. If sin is dead and is left among the grave clothes of His tomb, then the burden of the law with its requirements no longer applies to us. It is the detritus of the sepulcher. We are free. Free with Christ. Because He was circumcised for us, and later would be crucified for us.

This is our 8th day. Every day for a baptized child of God is that 8th day. That is why St. Paul says in Romans 8:1, “There is herefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) When the Lord brings us back here to His house to revel in the wonder that Christ is risen, we live the 8th day. When we hear the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit spoken over us in the Invocation we are taken back to the moment that our 8th day began in the waters of Holy Baptism. When we kneel at the rail and receive into our mouths the very body and very blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins we taste the feast of the 8th day that will never end in eternity. This is true for us not because of anything we have done. It is true for us because of EVERYTHING Jesus has done FOR US!

Louis Zamperini lived his 8th day among the people who tormented him. But that life was not bitter. It was sweet with the fragrance of the Gospel. It smelled of an empty tomb and looked like a resurrected Jesus. But it was delivered by Zamperini! You and I live our 8th day among people who are not so much unlike those who tormented him. There are those who reject the truth. They embrace and champion the lies of the evil one. The day may come when they even start to physically treat us like those Japanese treated that downed American flyer. But we do not fear! We don’t fear because we live every day in Christ as that 8th day. Baptized and forgiven, every day is a new beginning in Christ. And that new beginning always leads us to look toward that moment when our 8th day will be with Jesus in eternity.

Dear brother I think what you have is great. the only thing that you may end with is" Dear Christian friends we have been through many numbers this Lenten and Easter time. but no matter what number as blood bought children of God we know that when Jesus has our number we already have been chosen.

Finally, one crowning point, for you to ponder: the name of Jesus. In Greek, letters are used as numbers. Jesus’ is Jesous, (If you add his numbers you end with) = I (10) + e (8) + s (200) + o (70) + u (400) + s (200) = 888. In Christ is the 888 that comes after the prefect deliverance in the 777 that destroyed our arch enemy the 666 so that we have our 8th day, today and in Eternity. AMEN.

Now the peace…


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