Confessing in Our Life and Conversation

Second Sunday of Easter

April 8, 2018

John 20:19–31

On Easter Day the rejoicing is all out. We revel in the victory of our Lord. A week later we get down to the business of what the resurrection means in daily life. Jesus rose. Do we just rejoice in that 24/7, taking it all in? We know life doesn’t work that way. There’s too much going on in life. Too many responsibilities, to many unforeseen circumstances. 

The celebration of Easter Day is a high. The rest of the week is back to the daily grind. The next Sunday, which is today, is not as emotionally uplifting. There is indeed a contrast between the celebration of Easter and the focus of today. Once Jesus rose He got down to the work of resurrecting His disciples so to speak.

We see in the Gospel reading that they were hiding in fear. Even though the women had told them Christ rose they still didn’t believe it. They had to see. Jesus gave them that opportunity. He appeared to them. He showed them His hands and His side. He breathed on them. He gave them the Holy Spirit. They rejoiced at seeing Him. They believed now that He was alive. 

But now what came next. Jesus got right to the point. “As the Father has sent Me so I am sending you. If you forgive anyone their sins they are forgiven them. If you retain anyone their sins they are retained.” The rejoicing was to give way to the daily grind. It’s not that they weren’t to rejoice any longer. It’s not that they were now to work day in and day out in drudgery. Reading the Epistles they wrote in the New Testament shows that their exhortation to us as Christians is to live in the joy of the resurrection. And their exhortation to us in the calling the Lord gives to us not in drudgery but in glad confidence that it is a joy to serve the Lord.

Jesus has been raised from the grave. It means we will live forever. He sent His apostles to carry out His work. That means that each day we have new and eternal life. The Collect of the Day teaches this simply: “Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God.” As we live out our lives we are confessing that Jesus is Lord and God in our life and conversation. 

What does it mean to confess Jesus as Lord and God? The apostle John exquisitely teaches this in his account of the resurrected Jesus appearing to His disciples. Note that Jesus didn’t waste any time. It was on the day He rose from the dead that He came to them. The doors were locked. And yet, He came right into the house where they were huddled in fear. He might have been a ghost or a spirit. But He showed them His hands and His side. The mark of the nails were still on His wrists and the scar from the sword was still in His side. This was no ghost. As John says, they rejoiced upon seeing the Lord!

The thing is, Thomas wasn’t with them. When they saw him they said, “We have seen the Lord!” And this is the moment when Thomas earned the name, Doubting Thomas. The poor guy, the others had doubted just as much, but he is singled out. Even so, he was steadfast in his unbelief. “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails and put my finger into the mark of the nails and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” He refused the word of His fellow apostles. He would only believe if he saw for himself. 

Eight days later it would happen, the Sunday after Jesus rose from the dead. They were together again inside, this time Thomas with them. Again Jesus appeared to them even though the doors were locked. He spoke to them as He had on Easter Day, “Peace be with you.” Then He goes right to Thomas. “Put your finger here and see My hands and put your hand on My side. Do not show yourself to be unbelieving but believing.” Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 

A glorious confession of faith! A magnificent expression of who Jesus is. MY Lord and MY God. And notice what brought about this faith. It wasn’t in what he had demanded. I will not believe unless I see Him and put my finger on the mark of the nails and put my hand on the mark in His side. Jesus even took him up on that and said, “Here, put your finger here, and put your hand here.” Thomas immediately exclaimed his great confession of faith: My Lord and my God!

Even so, Jesus chides him. But He also gives a great promise and blessing. “Because you have seen Me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” That’s you and me. That’s all the Christians down through the centuries who have heard the testimony of the apostles through their writings in the New Testament and through the preaching of the Gospel by pastors, and through the pronouncing of the forgiveness of sins as the Lord had commanded the apostles to do. 

The apostle John, who wrote this account of Jesus appearing to the disciples, says that many other signs Jesus did in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. And there’s a lot that are written in this book! “But these are written,” he says, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, so that believing, you may have life in His name.” Life in His name is what we prayed for in the Collect of the Day. It’s not just waiting until we get to heaven and have eternal life. It’s life now, in the day-to-day grind of life.

We confess in our lives and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God. We believe even though we have not seen. John expands on what he is showing us in the Gospel reading in what he says in the Epistle reading. “Everyone who is born of God has victory over the world.” And what is this victory? “Our faith.” We believe that Jesus is Lord and God. As John said in the Gospel reading, our faith is in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. In the Epistle reading he says, “Who is the one who overcomes the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? He is the one who came by water and blood.”

The many things John said were recorded in this book are bookended by two events in the life of Christ. He began His ministry in water. He was Baptized in the Jordan River. This was His ordination into His ministry and joining in with us in the Baptism we need for salvation. At the end of His ministry and life His blood was poured out at His crucifixion. One of the soldiers pierced His side to see if He was dead. Indeed, both blood and water came out of His side, showing that His life had gone from Him.

This is the one, John says in the Epistle, who came. He came by water and blood. He came being Baptized and He came in order to be crucified. He came to undergo a Baptism we need and He came to suffer in our place so that we may have life in His name. And maybe that’s why both blood and water streamed from His side, to show us that everything Jesus did in His life and ministry was for you and me, was for you and I to have life in His name. For you and me to confess in our lives and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God. 

The daily grind doesn’t begin until we have first encountered the resurrected Jesus. Although, you and I do not see Him as Thomas and the other disciples saw Him. But Jesus says you and I are blessed. We believe even though we have not seen. Yet, as Jesus came to them showing them His hands and His side, He comes to us showing us Himself in physical means. And in fact they both involve water and blood. You were born of God as John says in the Epistle reading. The way were you were born of God was in the water of Baptism.

And you are nourished in this life you were born into. He gives you His blood along with His body to eat and to drink in the Sacrament of the Altar. The very blood He shed on the cross He gives you to drink so that you may life in His name. Your life is the daily grind. But it is life and conversation in which you are confessing Jesus as Lord and God. Amen.