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Sharing God's Love and Word Within and Beyond Calvary

Sermon Maay 1 2022

Easter 2 C 2022 My Lord and My God 
John 20:19-31
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!  Christ Is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!  One week ago, we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus in a special way. It was the First Sunday of Easter. Today is the Second Sunday of Easter and today we are still celebrating and talking about the events of the day that Jesus rose from the dead. 

And so,it should not come as a surprise that the church has set aside the Second Sunday of Easter as the day we read about the first time that the apostle Thomas saw our Risen Lord. 
Now, I know that throughout the centuries we have given the nickname “Doubting Thomas” to him, but my friends… is that fair?  For one thing…  One of the things that makes the Resurrection believable is that everyone at first doubted the News of His Resurrection.
In fact, the woman who first came to the tomb thought that someone had done something terrible to Christ’s body.  And after the angels proclaimed the  Good News to them, the women told the disciples all what they had seen and heard; and the disciples thought that they were suffering from some sort of hallucination.
The only difference between Thomas and the other disciples was that Thomas was not with them when Jesus appeared to them that evening on the first day of the week.  And I must point out that the disciples were not exactly perfect role models for us.
Scripture informs us that before Jesus appeared to them, the disciples were behind locked doors.  And that they were afraid that they would be next to be executed so the authorities could get rid of the teachings and influence of Jesus.
So,when the women told them that they had seen the Lord, the disciples did not believe them.  And that is why when Jesus did show up, Jesus first showed His hands, and His feet, and His side to the disciples so that they could identify that He truly was Jesus.
Jesus had to convince them all.  So, when Thomas asked for proof, Thomas was not asking for something that Jesus had not already shown to the other disciples.  Thomas had merely just missed out seeing for himself the wounded Christ because he was not there on the evening of the first day of the week.
I find it interesting that the Bible does not tell us why he was missing.  Maybe Thomas had a very good reason not to be there that evening.  And so as much as we might like to think that he should have been there, we should not criticize him for that.  And that is why I do not think it is fair that we should single Thomas out as the only doubter in the bunch.
Which brings me then to the first point I would like to make about the Good News contained within this text.  This text highlights to us how much Jesus loved His disciples.
Jesus could have said to the disciples “Hey… for months now I have been telling you that I was going to suffer, and die, and the rise from the dead. You should have been expecting this. But instead, here you are hiding behind closed doors in fear concerning the events that have unfolded.”
But Jesus did not do this… He went to His disciples.  And He showed them His Wounds – the wounds that display the love that He had/has for all of humanity through His suffering and death on the Cross for our benefit.
His love was/is so great that He encouraged His disciples to touch His wounds and see for themselves that it was His body that had been hung on the cross as the loving sacrifice that paid for the sins of the whole world.
The apostle John would later describe this moment with these words “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” Yes… heard, seen,looked upon, touched.  
With these words, John describes a God who loves us so much that he allowed us to touch Him and examine His wounds.  And so,it is no accident that Jesus allowed Thomas to have the same privilege that He gave to the other disciples.
Scripture tells us that one week later, the disciples were again in the house, and the doors were again shut, and this time Thomas was there. 
And just like the week before, Jesus invited Thomas to look at His wounds and touch His wounds until he too was satisfied that this was truly His Lord and Master.
Jesus said to Thomas “Put your finger here and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side.  Do not doubt but believe.” And when Thomas did as he was told he shouted out loud: “My Lord and my God.”
But that was not/is not the end of the story. Just as Thomas doubted; we too have moments when we doubt the Good News of Christ’s Resurrection.  And we too find it hard to believe that death was not the end for the man we know as Jesus.
But the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding comes to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit; and God removes all doubt and fear through His Word and the Sacraments which goes so far as to forgive us when we lack the courage to believe and trust in our Lord and Savior.
In today’s Gospel, we learn that God comes to us through His Son.  He comforts us with His peace.  He takes away our doubt and fear.  He gives us His forgiveness in such a way that we can give it to others. 
And God does all of this purely out of His divine love for us and we need to do nothing in return.
On this the Second Sunday of the Easter Season, we learn that, like Thomas, we all struggle with doubt.  And that our doubts are no different from the doubts that the disciples had on that first evening after the resurrection.  But instead of focusing on their doubts, our Gospel text today teaches us to focus on the love, and mercy and grace the Lord had for those who doubted as He displayed His wounds of love for all of humanity.
And so,with great joy I proclaim to you this morning: Alleluia! Christ is Risen!  Christ Is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!
Let us pray: Almighty and eternal God, the strength of those who believe and the hope of those who doubt, may we, who have not seen, have faith and receive the fullness of Christ’s blessing, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.