Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank You, that of Your indescribable grace, for the sake of Your Son, You have given us the holy Gospel, and have instituted the holy Sacraments, that through these we may have comfort and forgiveness of sin: We beseech You, grant us Your Holy Spirit, that we may heartily believe Your Word; and through the holy Sacraments day by day establish our faith, until we at last obtain eternal salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
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 retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”
27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;
31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
Peace to You!
Dear fellow redeemed,
Peace was destroyed in the garden by the deceiver Satan. Because peace was broken between man and God, Adam and Eve hid themselves from God’s sight. Because peace was broken between mankind, Adam and Eve had to cover themselves to hide from each other their shame and guilt. And ever since then, peace has been an elusive thing for mankind. Our consciences are in a state of unrest, burdened with the guilt of our sins. Sin is lawlessness, rebellion against the holy God. We have the troublesome effects of sin in our lives, which are decay and death. And then there is sin against one another breaking the peace in our relationships with one another. Selfishness and pride, a lack of love and forgiveness, cause peace in our relationships to vanish, and destroy those relationships. And of course this lack of peace plagues not only peace between two individuals, but also plagues the world, people verses people, nation pitted against nation. Wouldn’t it be great to have peace?
John Lennon offered a solution in his atheist anthem, “Imagine.” One of the ingredients to peace in the world is to do away with belief in heaven and hell and all religions. It is a common idea out there that religion is the greatest disturber of the peace. Though, ironically, the atheistic evolutionary worldview resulted in the death of over 200 million people worldwide in the 20th century.
And then there are others who choose to ignore the lack of peace with God, dismissing the judgment of God over our sins. The prophet Jeremiah was telling the Jews of impending judgment that God was going to bring upon them through the Babylonians. But the people chose to listen to the prophets who would speak what they wanted to hear. Jeremiah condemned these prophets, who said, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace.
The disciples lacked peace. The text tells us that they were in the locked room for fear of the Jews. They were afraid that they might suffer the same fate as their Lord. From the account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus they were troubled by the events that took place, the madness that swept over the Jews as they were desperately trying to get Jesus executed, and their hearts were heavy with the sadness that their Lord died. Scripture doesn’t say it, but they must have been distressed by their own lack of faithfulness. The shepherd was struck, and the sheep scattered. The disciples abandoned their Lord at the first sign of trouble.
But He who’s birth was announced with a message of peace by the angels, appears to the disciples pronouncing to them peace. When Jesus says “Peace to you”, there is good reason to have peace.
Jesus, is bodily risen from the grave, and there He stands with His wounds from which flowed His lifeblood that won their forgiveness and salvation. His resurrection means that the price of redemption is paid in full, they are forgiven!
If Jesus did not rise, Scripture says, “your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” So if Jesus did not rise there would be no forgiveness and no peace. But since Jesus, our Mediator, is risen, forgiveness is won. Peace is made between man and God again.
They see their risen Lord! He who has won peace pronounces to them divine, heavenly peace. They trust their risen Lord! Their consciences put at rest.
But then Jesus also gives them some work to do. Jesus gave them the ministry of peace, or the ministry of reconciliation as Paul calls it in 2 Corinthians.
They are to forgive and retain sins. To those who do not believe in Jesus’ crucified and risen for their forgiveness and salvation, and those who do not repent of their sins, they are to be told that their sins are not forgiven. They disqualify themselves from the forgiveness and salvation that Jesus won on the cross. And thus we should not give the impression, that there is peace, peace, when there is no peace, as the unfaithful prophets did in Jeremiah’s day. But the desire is that they would then seek peace with God, repent of their sins, and trust in Jesus. In that case, the disciples would pronounce forgiveness. They would pronounce peace.
And this is ministry that the Church conducts today for you and the world. If you refuse to repent of your sin or if you simply do not trust Jesus as the One through whom you have peace with God, then your sins are not forgiven, and you do not have peace. But to you who are repentant, to you who trust Jesus for your forgiveness and salvation, you are indeed forgiven all of your sins. Christ is risen, and thus you have peace with God. Let your consciences be at rest, because Christ lives, and thus the Father holds no sin against you! You may stand before Him knowing that you are not under His just wrath, but under His favor for Jesus sake. You do not have the wounds of Jesus to touch, but you have His Word of peace and forgiveness that He has given me to speak to you. “Blessed are you who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The risen Christ is the source and foundation of our peace. You have peace with God! Let that sink into your hearts and minds. Your soul be at rest!
So you have this preeminent peace through all the difficulties and troubles of life. This peace is also the solution to your relationships where your peace is broken. With this peace of Christ, you are able to be peacemakers in your relationships, at least as much as it depends on you. Christ is risen, and joined to His resurrection through baptism, you walk in the newness of life. And thus you put away pride and selfishness, and you share this peace you have in Christ. You forgive and show mercy to your neighbor, you cover a multitude of their sins, healing your relationships as much as it depends on you.
But we know that we there will never be peace upon the earth. After all, the world is full of sinners who have selfishness and pride, and Christians are among them causing trouble. But also, there will never be peace, because the world resists the truth. Luther said, “peace if possible, truth at all costs.” We seek to create peace, but the one thing we cannot compromise on is the truth of holy Scripture, and this stance on Scripture brings resistance and rebellion in the world. This is the meaning behind what Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” We may be called troublemakers and hateful, but we will not budge for the sake of the peace that Christ makes between man and God. It is a peace Christ has won for all people, a peace that is possessed only by the repentant and believing. The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Glory be to the Father…