Pastor Hopkins preached this sermon on the second Sunday of Easter, 4/19/2020. The service was broadcast live on Facebook at 9am, and is now available as a recording on the FLC youtube channel. To follow along from home, the bulletin is available as a PDF: Quasimodo geniti Easter2 Bulletin
The text for the sermon was the day’s gospel lesson. To read the Bible texts for the second Sunday of Easter, click here.
One Sunday, a couple months back, we all came to church. We gathered and visited with friends. We had the Divine Service and Bible Study. We ate bagels and chased kids. It was Sunday. And then it wasn’t. One week later everything changed.
The same could be said for things like… our work, our school, and our play.
They were things we took for granted; not because we weren’t grateful for them, but because they were so normal.
Think back to a Sunday morning in January, when you said to yourself or someone said to you, that you were going to church; or one Monday that you were going to work and school; or one Saturday that you were going to hang out with friends.
You would have thought something like: Well, yeah. That makes sense. It’s just what we do. But you probably wouldn’t have been beside yourself with joy and laughter.
The same thing goes for peace. If there was a headline tomorrow morning on every paper in all caps that shouted: PEACE DECLARED WITH CANADA!! You would be confused. Peace doesn’t mean much if you aren’t at war; or if, somehow, you don’t know you’re at war.
Easter runs the risk of being read like that headline. New life doesn’t mean a lot if you’re happy with your old life. Forgiveness of sins doesn’t mean a lot if you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. And peace with God means nothing if you think the whole relationship is fine as it is.
But that relationship was not fine. The disciples, like all men, were at war with God. They had every reason to be afraid.
If Jesus is risen from the dead, then He is exactly who He claimed to be all along. And unless His memory has been wiped, He remembers everything that happened last week: how they fell asleep, ran away, abandoned Him, and denied Him. And now He’s back.
This is why Jesus coming among them and declaring peace is so necessary. By declaring peace to them, Jesus forgives them. He says to them that all is well, and they can be friends again. Things are even square between them and their Heavenly Father. But they also need to understand.
This is not cheap talk or cheap grace. When Jesus speaks peace to them, He also shows them His hands and side. For them to understand Jesus’ peace, they need to see what this peace costs.
They need to behold Jesus’ wounds, which mark even His risen and glorified body; because anything less than that, anything less than Jesus’ full, perfect, and complete sacrifice could not end the war. Anything less than Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection would be a false peace. It would not be worth believing; which is just as well, since it would not be true.
But Jesus comes, Jesus speaks, and Jesus shows. It is then that the disciples are glad. It is then that they receive His peace.
But where does that leave you? How does the peace of God get from the upper room to you? In precisely the same way. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” Just as God used Ezekiel to speak life into dry bones, Jesus takes the disciples and turns them into apostles. They become the “sent ones;” sent to those who are dead, to speak them to life. Sent to those who are at war, to speak to them peace.
In the world, peace is too easy and too small. Peace is some quiet time alone, or knowing that you have a steady income, or reaching a political agreement.
This is not what Jesus brings them. When they left the upper room, the Jews still wanted them arrested. When they left the upper room, they entered into a hostile and uncertain world. By all other standards, things got worse and not better. And yet, they were glad.
They were glad because that peace that Jesus brought into the upper room then, that peace that Jesus brings into your room now, is the only peace that is truly reliable, lasting, and worthy; because it comes from the One who is truly reliable, lasting, and worthy.
We will patiently, even gladly, endure this time for as long as it lasts. You are not hidden from Jesus. You are not out of reach, because the peace of God, which is really peace with God, the peace that brings forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation, transcends locked doors even as it transcends our understanding, and is yours even now.