Sermon for Easter 2 – 4.16.23

+ 2nd Sunday of Easter – April 16th, 2023 +

Series A: Acts 5:29-42; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

In the Church of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem there’s a mosaic of Thomas with our Lord’s words spoken to him in John 20:

 

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

 

At first that might seem odd. Why would our Lord’s appearance to Thomas after he rose from the dead make its way to the Church of the Nativity?

 

But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Visitors come to the place of Jesus’ birth not seeing the things Jesus did for us 2000 years ago, and yet believing in him, in his birth, life, death, and resurrection for us.

 

This Sunday we find ourselves in a similar situation as Thomas did. Not seeing, and yet believing. We look out at the world around us, at our own sinful flesh within us and everything we see looks the opposite of what Jesus says in his word.

 

That’s why we can be thankful for Thomas, doubts and all.

 

Thomas wasn’t with his fellow disciples when Jesus appeared to them that first Easter evening.

 

“We have seen the Lord!” They told him.

 

Thomas replied, “Unless I see in His hand the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hands into His side, I will not believe.” 

 

Thomas demands visible, tangible proof. An empiricist to the bone, a kindred spirit with folks from Missouri. Show me. Let me see. Let me touch.

 

Now, it’s easy to blame Thomas and wag our fingers in shame at him. Doubting Thomas we call him. What about betraying Peter. Adulterous David. Fearful Moses. Let’s be honest. We all have doubts, fears, and plenty of sin we could be known for. And yet we should be thankful for Thomas, and even more thankful of how our Lord deals with Thomas in his doubts.

 

As the church father St. Gregory once said, “More does the doubt of Thomas help us to believe, than the faith of the disciples who believed.” I thank God that Thomas doubted, for when he later “touched the wounds in the flesh of his master, he healed in us the wounds of our unbelief.”

 

What was Thomas’s hang-up? He wanted something “real,” something you can see or, in this case, touch. Like that hole left by a crucifixion nail in Jesus’ hands. Like that wound in his side from the spear.

 

Thomas had seen the blood drip from Jesus’ dying body; he had seen the cold steel penetrate that body; he had seen the wood smeared crimson; he had seen the stone rolled in front of the tomb. He had seen it all. And for Thomas, seeing is believing.

 

Yet another reason to be thankful for Thomas. For we are Thomas. For us, seeing is believing too. We see what a world full of doubt and despair looks like. Like a downward death spiral. It looks like hopelessness. Brokenness. It looks like confusion. Chaos. It looks upside down from the world God made very good. It looks like the days of judges…everyone doing what is right in their own eyes. We see sin and death everywhere we look…especially when the light of God’s Law shines upon us and exposes our sin and selfishness.

 

And yet, our Lord promises. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

 

Believing is not the same as seeing. In fact, more often faith is believing the exact opposite of what we see, for that is how God reveals Himself to us.

 

Consider our Lord Jesus. He looks like a man, lives like a man, dies like a man. And yet faith joins Thomas in confessing, “Jesus, my Lord and my God.”

 

Consider our own daily callings: you work long hours, put up with rude customers, deal with unruly students, clean up after messy children, you help patients who don’t like going to the doctor, or a myriad of doing countless thankless tasks. Yet faith says, “My labor is holy, divine work, for I am God’s tool that He uses to take care of others.” And in the Lord, tour labor is never in vain.

 

Consider our lives right now. We see a troubled economy. Politicians of every stripe and color failing their oaths. Wars and rumors of wars. Troubled schools. Troubled cities and neighborhoods. Confusion about God’s basic creation of human beings as man and woman. We wonder how long, O Lord? Come quickly, Lord Jesus. And yet faith says, I am baptized into Christ and by his wounds I am healed now and forever, no matter what the world looks like.

 

Thank the Lord that believing is not the same as seeing. To believe is to confess that God is where God seems not to be, to confess that God is hidden and working in our weakness for us and for others, to confess that even though all I see is suffering and death and sin, yet I am blessed in Jesus’ dying and rising, to confess that despite what we see, Christ is risen. And he, the Lamb, is on the throne.

 

This is why for Thomas and for you, faith is a gift. Because we can’t do it.

 

Jesus deals with Thomas compassionately. Jesus doesn’t reject him, or send him off. Jesus holds out His scarred hand for Thomas to see. “Reach here your finger,” He says, “and see my hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into my side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.”

 

And then, by God’s grace. By Jesus’ word…Thomas sees with the eyes of faith who Jesus really is.  “My Lord and my God.”

 

This is how our Lord deals with us too. Jesus doesn’t leave Thomas in his doubts. Neither will he leave you. Jesus takes your doubts and your fears and your shame and your bitterness and He makes them His own. And He takes His faith and His hope and His life and His joy and His glory and He makes them your own. He doesn’t always remove our outward troubles; but he does give us something better: his peace in his dying and rising for you.

 

Jesus’ peace in knowing that no matter how great our sin, Christ’s love for you is always greater.

 

Jesus’ peace in knowing that no matter how unfaithful we have been, Christ our Lord is always faithful to you and for you.

 

Jesus’ peace in knowing that although we often live with doubts and fears, blessed are you who have not seen, and yet believe.

 

Jesus’ peace in knowing that you are blessed today and always in his dying and rising for you.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977