“JESUS BRINGS FORGIVENESS”
John 20:19-31(Easter 2)
Sunday April 11, 2021
Trinity – Creston/Mount Ayr
Grace, mercy, and peace is yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Our text for today is the Gospel Lesson from John 20 that was just proclaimed.
Dearest Jesus: Send your Holy Spirit to remind us that we have the wonderful, eternal assurance that you have risen! We have peace with God and are on our way to heaven! Amen.
The Holy Spirit came on Jesus at his Baptism. From then on, everyone is to know that Jesus is about the business of fulfilling all righteousness (Mt 3:15).
In this fulfilling of all righteousness, every sinner will be justified—declared righteous. As John the Baptist proclaims, Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29).
Everything of Jesus—his teaching, his miracles, his eating and drinking with sinners, his suffering and death—it’s all ordered toward the forgiveness of sins. When Jesus enters a town or a room, it is to give gifts to the sinner.
This would even be true when Jesus enters a room to overturn tables; his desire is to cast down all self-justification (the work of the Law) in order that the sinner may hear his word of the cleansing of the sinner (the Gospel). And it’s certainly true in our text, in that room where the disciples were hiding in fear.
Jesus Enters the Room to Forgive Sins, to Bestow the Holy Spirit, to Give Faith.
It is the evening of Easter Sunday. Jesus is risen! But the apostles cower in a locked room. They belong to the Lord. They bear his name. They are already clean because of the word Jesus has spoken to them (Jn 15:3). They should rejoice!
Yet they live at the same time in their sinful flesh. Simul justus et peccator—this is Paul’s use of old man/new man (for example, Eph 4:22–24). As Luther notes, “A Christian man is righteous and a sinner at the same time, holy and profane, an enemy of God and a child of God” (AE 26:232).
The apostles are in the locked room for fear of the Jews—meaning, the theological party of the teachers of the Law. The Law locks people under fear because it exposes our sinful flesh, shows how evil we truly are. The Law accuses the old Adam in us and locks us in fear of punishment.
Even in the Church—since we are all living as both sinner and saint, the old Adam, the sinful flesh, desires to use the Law against another person, holding onto their sins, keeping people locked in fear.
While we are in our sinful flesh (which is at all times, until the end of this life when we’re parted from it and with our Lord), we are, according to our old Adam, living in a locked room of fear. Fear is wrought by the teaching of the Law. The sinful flesh, the old Adam, controls the room, and the doors are locked.
Jesus enters the room. (We should not speculate about how Jesus enters the room. He is in the flesh, and he is at the same time true God. As the Athanasian Creed puts it, he is both God and man “by the assumption of the humanity into God.”)
When Jesus enters the room, when his Word is spoken, the room that was once ordered toward fear is now ordered toward the forgiveness of sins.
There is the gift of peace. This peace originates and flows from the verdict of justification spoken at the throne in heaven (Zech 3:1–10). The verdict by which the sinner is justified in heaven is now spoken by the mouth of the Lord on earth: “Peace to you.”
Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, and for the sinner, that is the good news of the Gospel brought to earth.
There is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who “calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith” (Small Catechism, Third Article).
There is the gift of the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness is a spoken and accomplished fact, delivered into the ears of the sinner. The sin is sent away; it is no more.
Faith is, in this room, the negation of fear. The fear brought by the Law (which accuses of sin) is now replaced by the faith wrought by the Gospel (which frees from sin).
It might be noted that seeing Jesus in the resurrected flesh as victor over death would not yet chase away fear. What if he is in the flesh, victorious, but looking for retribution? The resurrection is not good news simply in that it shows God has this power.
But he came in the flesh for grace (Jn 1:16–17). He was resurrected for us. He came into the room to speak forgiveness. He came bearing gifts. Faith receives gifts.
The apostles did not stay in the room. Jesus sent them out: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (v 21). The gift of the forgiveness of sins (and thus the gift of the Holy Spirit and of faith) is sent forth into the world of sinners.
The word of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is proclaimed. Sinners are gathered into the Church. The Church is built up in the Gospel.
The Confessions explain, “God is superabundantly generous in His grace: First, through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world.
This is the particular office of the Gospel.
Second, through Baptism. Third, through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourth, through the Power of the Keys. Also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren” (SA III IV).
Where this Gospel is preached, where sins are forgiven by the crucified, resurrected Lord, there is resurrection for the sinner. “For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation” (Small Catechism, Sacrament of the Altar).
So, “Everything, therefore, in the Christian Church is ordered toward this goal: we shall daily receive in the Church nothing but the forgiveness of sin. . . . For we are in the Christian Church, where there is nothing but ‹continuous, uninterrupted› forgiveness of sin” (LC II 55). Amen.
Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.