Rev. Charles Lehmann + John 20:19-31 + Easter 2
In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen
In the prophecy that the Lord gave Ezekiel in the valley of
dry bones the people of Israel said, “Our bones are dry, our hope is
lost, and we are cut off.” They were in despair. Death had shaken
them. Their words reflected what we often feel in times when
death appears to be in control. We feel like dry bones. We are in a
dark valley, a valley darkened by the shadow of death. It is very
dry. Our tongues cry out for moisture. Our lips are chapped and
flaking. And so we ask, “Can these bones live?” Yes, beloved.
These bones can live, and they shall live forever and ever.
But Thomas had his doubts, and so do we. He wasn't there
when Jesus passed through those locked doors. He didn't hear
Jesus' resurrected words to the ten, “Peace be with you!” He had to
wait. He wasn't there that night, and he had to go on the word of
his brother apostles.
The apostles shout, “We have seen the Lord!” He appeared
to them, or so they said. But Thomas knew very well that Jesus had
been flogged, crucified, and buried. He died, and dead people stay
that way. He attested Himself with miracles while He was alive,
but is Thomas supposed to take their word on it now that Jesus has
died? Thomas saw Jesus raise the dead, but who is going to raise
Jesus? In Thomas's mind we need to face facts. We're on our own.
Our bones are dry. Our hope is lost. We are cut off.
The church today experiences the same fear that Thomas
faced when the apostolic word was delivered to him. He had to go
on the word of someone else. The ten saw Jesus, but not Thomas.
They heard Him speak. Thomas didn't. It's easy for an eyewitness
to believe, but it's not so easy for us. All we have is what Thomas
had. The apostolic word. And like him, it's easy for us to discount
it. It is easy for us to respond only with unbelief. It's easy for us to
wonder what the big deal is. We say to ourselves, “But we haven't
seen the Lord.”
True enough. If we look around, it seems like we see the
same sort of world we've always seen. I haven't seen Jesus walking
down Shields or Horsetooth. He doesn't buy coffee at Starbucks.
All the people buried in the cemetery are still dead.
But beloved, our eyes, our hearts, and most of all our fears
are deceiving us. Jesus comes to you today with resurrected lips
and He says, “Peace be with you.” His lips are not dry with the
thirst of Good Friday. They do not cry out with the anguish of a
back torn by the lashes of the centurion.
Jesus' wounds are now of glory, not of grief. He walks
through doors, yet He can eat. The Lord of life lives no more to
die, yet He breathes the same air we do. He speaks to His disciples
in a locked upper room, yet Christ is with us always in all places to
the very end of the age.
When Jesus says, “Peace be with you” it is rather like
saying hello. When Jesus walks into the room, Peace is standing
there. It is no accident that after I consecrate the bread and the
wine I will then turn to you and say, “The peace of the Lord be
with you always.”
The one who makes the promise keeps the promise. Jesus,
God and Man, is with you always, and in a way that on this day
Thomas didn't know. Your bones are not dry. Your hope is not lost.
You are not cut off. Your bones are living and wet, covered in the
flesh and skin that Jesus Himself has knitted together in your
mother's womb. Your hope is incarnate in Jesus, the Word made
flesh. You are not cut off, but grafted into the vine, Jesus who
sustains and nourishes His whole body, the church.
And how is this accomplished? By words. Simple, plain,
ordinary words. The words that are given the church to hear and to
confess. The words that our Lord gave his apostles to preach and to
write. It is by plain simple words that God raises the hosts of
Israel in the valley of dry bones. It is by plain simple words that
Jesus comforts his disciples who are hidden behind locked doors
for fear of the Jews.
But to Thomas He gives more. “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.” We might be
tempted to be jealous. We might think to ourselves, “Why can't we
have that same assurance of the resurrection that Thomas had?
Why can't we touch the Lord's wounds?”
But Jesus next words put that thought to flight, or at least
they should. “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have
believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have
believed.” This is not a rebuke of Thomas. Thomas' faith is
commended. He has seen the Lord, just like the ten, and believed.
The other disciples also languished in the fear of unbelief
before Jesus appeared to them. The other disciples also saw their
Lord face to face. They saw and believed. But blessed are you,
blessed are you who have not seen and yet have believed! Jesus
has died to forgive your sins. He has suffered and died and the
cross and there he has destroyed death and the grave. He has risen
from the dead and so shall you! You will live eternally with him in
paradise, and why? Because you have heard the apostolic word and
It is that same word that has begotten you of the Father in
Holy Baptism. It is that same word that has absolved you of your
sin at the beginning of this Divine Service. It is that same word that
will be spoken over the bread and wine whereby they will be the
body and blood of Christ.
You have in its fullness what Ezekiel never knew. You
receive Jesus every Sunday in a way that not even John the Baptist
Jesus is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity,
and you, receiving your life from Him shall never die.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy