Sermons

Easter 2C (Jn 20:19–31)

April 3, 2016
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!

HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

INI + AMEN.

This Jesus, this resurrected Jesus has His men, His Chosen, His Twelve, but more than His Twelve: His pastors, His men. To put it simply (and the New Testament bears this out): All the Apostles were pastors, but not all pastors are apostles. Apostles were sent by Jesus; they were eyewitnesses and ear witnesses to what Jesus had said and done. Pastors are sent by Jesus, just as much as the Apostles were, but pastors are not eyewitnesses. The testimony of pastors is built on the “foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,” that is, their testimony is sola scriptura, Scripture alone. So, what are you given to know about these men of Jesus from John 20? What of Jesus is given through these men? Why does He send them?

JESUS SENDS HIS MEN TO FORGIVE SINS.

(I. Jesus is Lord and God.)

Jesus sends because He’s “Lord and God.” Not just Thomas’ Lord and God, but the only true and living—dead then alive again—“Lord and God.” He proved that He is Lord and God. He didn’t just do it once, but He did it twice: “The doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’” Locked doors? No problem for someone who can bypass a sealed tomb! He also proved it to Thomas. Without having to be visibly there, without having to be told, He knew, He’d heard what Thomas had sworn: “Unless I thrust my fingers into His nail scars and side, I will never believe.” Without waiting for anyone else to say anything, He starts in “Put your finger here and see My hands; put your hand and thrust it into My side.” Yes, Jesus is Lord and God. “All that is God rests in Jesus,” as Paul says. There is nothing of God outside of Jesus except the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus, as the eternal Son, possesses the entire divine nature, completely and fully, as do the Father and the Spirit. This Jesus, this resurrected Jesus, this Lord and God Jesus, who also is our brother and High Priest, has sending authority. He sends as He was sent: “The Father sent Me, and I am sending you.” Jesus sends because He’s Lord and God, He sends because He’s our brother, and He sends His men.

(II. They are “His men”.)

They certainly are “His men.” Jesus chose them. He walked among His Apostles, His Twelve. We know He hand picked them all. He chose Andrew and Peter, James and John from their fishing boats. He chose Matthew from his tax-collectors booth. He chose Philip and Nathanael. He also chose Thomas. He chose Thomas not only before His resurrection but even after. He didn’t jettison Thomas after Thomas refused to believe. What Jesus said to the others, He also said to Thomas: “Peace be with you.” It’s all Jesus choosing. He always chooses His men. He chooses them in different ways. He chose them directly in His Apostles. He chooses some through His Apostles (like Timothy and Titus), some through His pastors (as Titus did in Crete), and some through the local congregation (as with Stephen). All the Lord’s choosing. He gives men as He chooses. They are “under-shepherds.” They are “ministers of reconciliation.” They are “priests” and “overseers.” His “ministers” and “leaders.” Gifts from Him to His Church. Each given and each received according to His good and gracious will.

(III. These men have authority to forgive sins.)

Lord and God Jesus has chosen and sent His men. He doesn’t send them out on their own, He goes with them and through them to His people. When it comes to forgiving sins, God has given “such authority to men.” A police officer has authority to give you a ticket or send you on your way, a judge has authority to sentence you, a commanding officer has authority over his men. Pastors have authority to forgive sins. They’re sent with Jesus authority: “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” The Son was sent from the Father. Just like Jesus was sent, so pastors are sent. As Jesus says in Luke, “He who hears you hears Me.” They can surely say, “I forgive you.” As Jesus says, “If you forgive, they are forgiven.” Which is just what the Catechism teaches us: “I believe that when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, in particular when they…absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself.” They have this authority because they’re sent and have received the Spirit. “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” So also all pastors, as Paul says, “Timothy, do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.”

Jesus has His men. He chose them. He sent them. He’s got the authority to do it. He’s the true and living—dead and risen—Lord and God Himself. He sends His men, His pastors with authority, with Jesus authority! Pastors have the authority to forgive sins. Jesus gives them and His forgiveness through them to His Church. This is what we learn from John 20. Why does Jesus do this? It’s nothing else than that you would believe that Jesus died and rose for you, that His death paid for your sins, that His resurrection is for your justification before God. Even that sin. The one that bothers you. Jesus sends pastors to take care of that. To say, “That sin is forgiven. I forgive you. Now you know that Jesus has died and risen for it. It’s forgiven. Gone. Don’t believe me? Well, you should. Jesus sent me to do this.” That’s what Jesus said, “If you forgive, they are forgiven.” “These things have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” His resurrected life is yours. He sends His men to deliver that life, that forgiveness. Don’t try and parse the Lord’s gift to change how He gives it. He gives it through His men. JESUS SENDS HIS MEN TO FORGIVE SINS. All that’s left to say when they forgive your sin is “Amen.” Gift received!

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!

HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

INI + AMEN.

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3 thoughts on “Easter 2C (Jn 20:19–31)

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