The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
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NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Quasimodogeniti - The First Sunday after Easter, 2017.
John 20:19-34. Doubting Thomas.



Quasimodogeniti, The First Sunday after Easter, 2017
  
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #192                          Awake My Soul - Gerhardt
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel               
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22 
    
The Sermon Hymn #
208               Ye Sons and Daughters      
       

Timidity and Hardness of Heart


The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #
187                               Christ Is Arisen            

KJV 1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

KJV John 20:19 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, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


First Sunday After Easter

Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, that of Thine ineffable grace, for the sake of Thy Son, Thou hast given us the holy gospel, and hast instituted the holy sacraments, that through the same we may have comfort and forgiveness of sin: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that we may heartily believe Thy word; and through the holy sacraments day by day establish our faith, until we at last obtain salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.



Timidity and Hardness of Heart

KJV John 20:19 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, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 

Luther makes some good observations about lack of faith and hardness of heart in his sermon on Thomas being rescued from his unbelief.

Many different events and circumstances can make us timid, weak, afraid, and despairing. The disciples were stricken by fear because their leader was gone and no one could escape the power of the Roman Empire. They knew the results of religious leaders enabling the soldiers to finish the task. Therefore, the door was locked carefully so that men would have to crash through the door. That was fear, timidity, and lack of faith at work.

We moved into a house where every single door had added locks and chains, more than anything I seen before, including the kind on the door protecting the disciples. I saw all that in our Bella Vista house and thought, "Someone is very afraid." Later, we learned it was a dysfunctional ex in-law, and the renter was a retired police officer. Even the police can be afraid at home.

The disciples already heard the news of Christ rising from the dead. But fear is so great - plus the guilt associated with their behavior - that they were locked up in a fake kind of security. 

The first break in this nightmare of fear came when the risen Lord appeared before them, in spite of locked doors, and said, "Peace be with you." Although much needed to be said, the first response to His cowering disciples was - Peace, a friendly and strengthening greeting.

This is the Son of God strengthening them by praying peace - that is forgiveness - upon them. Peace always accompanies faith, forgiveness, and salvation. That is the most important association in the New Testament - peace and forgiveness. References to warfare and peace are almost absent.

20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

The best way to show them they were seeing Him arisen was to show His hands and side. They knew from John about His last moments. This could not be a dream from their imaginations. Instead, it was confirmation of the Two Natures united in Christ. As the Son of God, He appeared in the room in spite of the locks. As truly human, He showed the cruel wounds of His death.

In the same way, God takes away our fears, anxiety, depression, and torpor by showing us His power, grace, and mercy. He does that in the Scriptures and also in the daily events of life.

As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, "You not only knew the Word of God but experienced its effect upon you." That is what the Greek class has learned, not to mention those reading Luther's sermons for typos. The power is so striking that no one can deny the power of God's Word.

Sometimes people cannot see this grace of God, so our actions in showing concern and actually helping our neighbor displays this love in action, which is the fruit of the Gospel.

So here we see the Son of God going to them to strengthen and guide them after an experience that crippled their emotions for a time.

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

Jesus offered them peace again, and this is the most important greeting of the time. It is still used today in the Middle East. 

This is where we see the transition from Jesus being sent by the Father to Jesus sending the disciples, who are called Apostles after the Resurrection and Ascension. With this change is also the power of the keys - which clearly argue against Universal Forgiveness without Faith. If there are sins to forgive, then the sins of the entire world have not been absolved.

This is an important part of the liturgy. We confess our sins together, and the absolution pronounces forgiveness and peace. This is also carried out among the membership and in the family. But it is centered in worship and pastoral leadership. Now that is largely reversed, to the detriment of all. The minister is full of fear that he will be pronounced unforgiven for offending someone, thereby earning the locking key that makes him leave..unforgiven for doing his job.

I have seen clergy fussing over the "Office of the Keys" for decades, but they sidestep the real issue - Justification by Faith. They want to line up and polarize people based on various traditions when the Gospel of John clearly teaches and quotes Jesus teaching faith in Him. 

The ultimate sin is not having the wrong position on the Keys, but teaching against faith in Christ. The ultimate blessing is not belonging to the correct synod, but believing in Christ and remaining with the True Vine through the Means of Grace. 

Those who see their doctors regularly, in spite of fears, will normally be the most healthy, because there are always conditions to be treated. Those who stay with the Means of Grace will also be spiritually healthy because our eternal malady on earth is the Old Adam, our sinful nature. Like most maladies, if left untreated, this takes over entirely.

This is where hardness of heart enters the discussion. When people reject faith, even in the midst of talking about faith, the effect of the Spirit is to disturb them about this. Over time they harden their hearts against the Spirit at work in the Word. And they fall in love with worldly peace and security. They become harder than stone and flint, and nothing touches them. That is the condition of theology in America. In Europe it is worse and few both to stand up for the eternal truths.

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 

Luther saw Thomas as brave before this happened, offering to go together with Jesus to Jerusalem and die there. I saw that as Thomas being grim and fearful. Nevertheless, we see Thomas at his worst, just as Peter displayed great timidity when associated correctly with Jesus.

Thomas was so deep in his gloom that he would not believe until he saw the wound and touched them. This is a great vow, and God does not fail to hear such vows, which are more like commands to Him.

On a much smaller scale, I was gloomy about visiting a school recently. I expected nothing but I was welcomed with great warmth, even for just stopping by. I was even given an interview date that day, by email. Going back 36 years, that never happened, for one reason or another. It did at one school at first but that gave way to normal corporate behavior, called Mushroom Management - keep people in the dark and harvest. You can guess the rest, if you know mushroom production.

I have seen this with many people. Various difficult situations confront them, whether economic or health or family. I pray about them and ask for God's help, and help comes in abundance. 

We do not pray to get what we want, but to glorify God's Name. When He provides far beyond our ability to imagine it, we can only attribute this turnabout to God's power. And that gives us all the more reason to trust Him in all things bothering us.

26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

The disciples saw the risen Lord, but they were still locked up, one week later, this Sunday that we call Doubting Thomas Sunday. Jesus again entered the locked room and showed that He heard everything. He commanded Thomas to do what Thomas insisted he needed for proof.
This is where Jesus began admonishing them for their little faith. 

Lack of trust doubts what God can do, in spite of our experiences and knowledge of God's Word. 

Many portray this as Thomas responding without doing what he insisted on doing. And I used to say that too. But that overlooks Jesus' command. He did not say, "If you wish..." or "Perhaps..." He commanded. So the lack of debate following tells us that is exactly what Thomas did, because the Lord commanded him to do it.

28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 

Thomas did what the Son of God commanded and responded with this brief and powerful confession of faith. Not THE Lord and God - but "My Lord and my God," truly showing his faith in the message of Jesus as Lord and God. After all, faith is not simply what is taught but individual trust in what is taught.

Now Thomas and the rest are strong enough again to hear Jesus rebuke lack of faith. The time is coming when they will no longer see Jesus but will be preaching about Him in all kinds of hostile situations. Now they will be pointing to their Lord no longer seen and teaching people to see Him as Lord and Savior.

This approach is how God teaches. First, the Incarnate Word accompanied His teaching with miracles. to confirm their divine origin. The disciples were built up to withstand the horrors of the crucifixion and be restored to faith in all that Jesus said, even in bearing the cross. 

Next they saw the power of the Word in teaching crowds to dismiss their previous fickleness and blindness and now see the crucified Messiah as their Savior. When thousands responded, they experienced the efficacy of the Word. They raised a harvest although others labored for them to make that possible.

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Jesus continued to confirm His divinity in the Resurrection appearance, when time was short before His Ascension. Here the purpose of the Gospel is stated with perfect clarity. The accounts are written that people might believed Jesus is The Christ. And in believing they have eternal life (from forgiveness) in His Name.

By Caravaggio.