Second Sunday of Easter 2016

Bible Text: John 20:19-32

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

(Response) He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia

I love that word, indeed. It sounds powerful and official, maybe even regal. It has an air of certainty and gravitas. Today, however, “indeed” just won’t do. Not for this.

It was the greatest thing that ever happened. It was the most important thing that ever happened. It was, in a sense, the only thing that ever really happened…and they missed it.

Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, and Jesus’ own disciples weren’t there. The resurrection happened, indeed, and they missed it.

And now all they have to go on is an empty tomb – an empty tomb and a sketchy report from Mary Magdalene; which went something like: “Hey, I just saw Jesus. He’s alive, and He thought you should know.” Or, as we’ve translated it this morning, “He is Risen!” Indeed.

So what’s the disciples’ problem? They’ve read the prophecies, they’ve seen the miracles, and on several occasions Jesus Himself told them He would be raised! They were supposed to see all this coming. So then why do we find them behind a locked door? Why the Maundy Thursday frowns and the Good Friday fear?

The fear, of course, is that Jesus is not risen indeed. The fear is that Jesus is dead indeed. Which means that there’s no hope for them, and no hope for us either. They weren’t being irrational. If Jesus is still dead, then there’s everything to fear. Indeed.

Of course, some news is too good to believe. You could even call it unbelievable. And yet, somehow, there’s always a temptation to bash on Thomas this morning for not believing his friends when they tell him the same story they weren’t too confident about themselves just last week. The truth is there’s no difference between Thomas and the others. They all wanted the same thing. They all wanted to see Jesus.

That’s what they were thinking at their sad, funeral potluck in the locked room – that what they’d really like is to see Jesus…And whaddya know(?) they do.

And “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.”

“Peace be with you.” It might sound like a strange thing to say; not as clever as you might expect of Jesus, especially at a moment as big as this. And that’s true enough. The peace Jesus brings to those locked in fear may not seem clever or witty, but it is good, and it means much more than “Hey, good to see ya.” Jesus’ peace is good because it is forgiveness. The peace Jesus brings to the fearful and anxious is Himself: crucified and risen. That’s why He points to His wounds…

because the peace-giving absolution Jesus speaks to His disciples is much more than a word. It’s even much more than a peaceful word. The forgiveness Jesus speaks flows from His holy wounds just as much as it flows from His holy lips. Forgiveness literally pours out of Jesus crucified and risen body. Lips and vocal chords form words of absolution. Blood and water, baptism and Eucharist, flow from His side like a flood. It sounds in our ears, splashes on our foreheads, and rests on our tongues. Jesus’ forgiveness is real and tactile and bloody and beautiful, just like Him.

And now the twist: They were there for a funeral, but the joke is on them! “I’m not dead. I’m alive,” says Jesus. “Hear My voice. See My pierced hands. Poke around on My side! It’s Me.” “Peace be with you.”

And of course, all of us would love to see Jesus just like that – like Mary Magdalene and Thomas and the disciples, and the hundreds who saw Him risen over the 50 days of Easter. Because then, who could ever doubt?!

And when we think that way, it becomes easy to forget that there were many who knew Jesus, saw Him, heard Him, crucified Him, bumped into Him walking around two weeks later, and still did not believe. If they could still doubt – if they could still refuse to truly see Jesus and truly hear Jesus, then what hope is there for us in 2016? What hope is there for us, who so often live our lives as if Jesus were not risen indeed? This:

“’As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.’”

The hope is this: that Jesus sends His apostles and pastors in the same way that the Father sent Him: in the flesh, proclaiming the Kingdom of God, speaking forgiveness, with words and Water and Body and Blood. That’s why Jesus can say something like, “Indeed, indeed, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Right about now you’re thinking. “I know the words to that verse. Jesus doesn’t say ‘indeed,’ He says, ‘Amen.’” And you’re 100% right. But “Amen” is the Greek word. It’s also been translated “truly” and “verily”, so “indeed” seems about right, especially now in Easter. If you want to be super Lutheran you could even say, “This is most certainly true.”

Long sermon short, Jesus does actually show Himself to us. First of all, He shows Himself here, in His Church. And from there He shows up into all the places we would hide, locked up in fear, dealing with our own personal Good Fridays.

He comes speaking forgiveness in the Holy Absolution, pronounced by a pastor. He comes with His Gifts, with His Holy Body and Blood, here in His Supper for you to eat and drink and be forgiven. These are all gifts that make Jesus not merely shown, but delivered.


He does all that here, in this place. But to those who are not here in this place, who do not know Jesus or receive Him the way we do…well, Jesus does not leave them with nothing.

That is to say, Jesus shows Himself, Hiss mercy and suffering, by showing you, and everyone else, His Church. Jesus has given you new hope and new life and now He shows His love and mercy and suffering by showing you off to the world living the new life He’s given you.

If you wonder exactly how that might work, and what your new life might look like, just look at Jesus over the next 33 days, all the time between now and His Ascension. Stay close and pay attention to what Jesus does with His resurrection! Do that, and over the Sundays to come you’ll see that your new life looks a lot like:

-visiting the sick

-feeding the hungry

-forgiving the scornful

-loving your neighbor

-loving your enemies

-and consoling the frightened

That’s your new life. And it flows from Jesus’ side.

That’s it. That is life in Jesus’ Easter Kingdom!

Baptism and

Eucharist and


and New Life!

So go and enjoy your Resurrection!

And start right now.

50 days

All Easter

All love

All Forgiven

All for free

All for you

All Jesus, Full Blast

This Should be fun.


Christ is Risen!!

He is risen indeed, Alleluia.


About Pastor Hopkins