Second Sunday of Easter / In Response to the Easter Sunday 2019 Martyrdom of the Sri Lankan Christians
Last Sunday all of our attention was rightfully focused upon the true and historical event of Jesus’ Resurrection on Easter morning. With joy we peered into the opened and empty tomb and gazed in. For the first time ever, emptiness brought triumphant joy!
This morning the events of our Gospel reading picks up at the evening of the day Jesus rose. That first Easter evening, wouldn’t we expect to find such joy? Christ is Risen! Alleluia! However, we don’t find any joy at all among the ten disciples. Instead John points out that the doors are locked! They’re afraid! Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest, just had Jesus tried and convinced Pontius Pilate to execute Jesus for crimes He hadn’t committed! Next thing you know Judas, one of the brothers, was even driven mad with greed! What in the world is happening why is it all unraveling? Would they be next? Would the Jews do anything to exterminate Christ’s disciples? Barricaded and hiding the disciples cowered.
How was your Easter evening? Were you terrified? Did you for one second fear persecution? Truly thanks be to God for many of us our Easter evenings were filled with triumphant Easter joy. For the Christians in Sri Lanka however, their Easter joy quickly turned to fear and sorrow. The explosions of suicide bombs that killed more than 350 people and injured at least 500 more muffled the Alleluia’s of choirs. The smell of sulfur, gunpowder, and charred wood snuffed out the sweet smell of Lilies, myrrh and Easter incense.
Why? Why such violent attacks upon Christ and His Church? Well the answer just may be right under our noses. Although the media this week informed that the attack upon the Sri Lankan congregations had been in retaliation to the New Zealand mosque shootings in March, we as Christians always turn to God’s Holy Word for answers. Both attacks are condemnable. In verse nineteen St. John records for us that although the disciples were locked in their room with the outside world barricaded off, never the less Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And so, we see right here yet another miracle that took place on Easter Sunday. Jesus Christ defied all laws of nature and physics; manifesting His divine attributes Jesus, fully human and fully God, comes, stands, and speaks to His beloved disciples. In His risen and glorified state time, space, the rock of the tomb, the walls and the doors of building couldn’t possibly stop Jesus from standing in the midst of His disciples in real presence. Jesus appeared not far off from them so that the disciples weren’t sure or not if it was really Jesus. Nor was Jesus whispering in secrecy from the other side of the locked door. Jesus appeared in the midst of, in the center of them all, so that each of the ten disciples present could get a good long hard look at Him and seeing His hands, feet, and side know that their Redeemer lives!
And so, Christ’s church comes under attack and faces persecution. It’s attacked because the last thing the enemy wants is to admit defeat even though he already is. Christ triumphs the grave! Death has lost its sting since the war over death and the devil has been won. Satan however still attempts to skirmish and picks fights like a bratty child on the playground. But that’s not all, he has also enlisted the help of the world and our own sinful flesh to do all it can to keep us from being reconciled to God in Christ the Resurrected Savior. And so through the sinful acts of man, by means of the explosions of bombs, the devil tries hard to harden our hearts and blind our eyes from seeing Christ’s coming to us, His standing in our midst, and the devil hopes that the ringing in our ears from the blasts of bombs is so strong that we don’t even hear Jesus’ voice in His Word. That we simply don’t hear Jesus say; Peace be with you. Satan, the prince of chaos, despises peace.
Peace be with you. For us today “Peace” has become such a common greeting, meaning only a kindly human wish when spoken by the ordinary lips of man but means infinitely more when spoken by the lips of Jesus. When Jesus says “Peace” He actually gives what the word says; not a lovely looking package that is empty inside but one that is filled with a heavenly reality far more beautiful than the covering in which it’s wrapped. Christ’s peace truly is your treasure!
When we ourselves share Christ’s peace just before the Service of the Sacrament, it isn’t just a simple greeting to those around us. Because of Jesus Christ’s true presence in our midst it’s more, it’s a reality! Since Christ is in and among us, we give to each other what we are saying: Christ’s own peace. The very peace that Jesus Christ, the Risen One, has achieved over the chaos of sin! This peace isn’t simply just yours but it is ours and we share it and exchange it with one another.
Though terrorist or any enemy of the Gospel for that matter may attempt to stop Christ from coming and standing in the midst of His disciples they simply do not succeed! Despite the bombs of terrorist, despite the destruction of flames that devoured a centuries old cathedral in Paris or a simple Lutheran church in Milwaukee Christ stills comes to You! Christ your Resurrected Savior still stands in real presence on His Altar for the forgiveness of sins and His Word of forgiveness is still boldly proclaimed by His called servants!
Despite the best efforts of terrorists and flames, in a moment Christ will still defy space and time just as He did that first Easter evening and come to us in, with, and under the bread and wine. There upon His Altar Jesus Christ Himself truly stands in our midst just as He did with His disciples. And, in a moment, pastor will also take the bread, hold it over the wine and proclaim “the peace of the Lord be with you always” thereby proclaiming the risen Christ as He showed the disciples His hands and His side. This peace, your treasure, is the new greeting of God’s children, for when you His child eat of His body and drink of His blood His peace rests in you because He now dwells within you. The table is set, a foretaste of the feast to come is yours, come and receive it. Your treasure awaits you.
With Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts by grace through faith we truly are born of God. As God’s children with Christ’s peace we now boldly believe St. John’s words from his first letter: everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. The peace of Christ truly is your security in the face of the evil one’s deadly attacks. This peace, this security, is yours since you are Christ’s. His righteousness is your righteousness, His victory over death and the devil is your victory. His eternal life with the Father in heaven is now your eternal life reconciled with the Father in heaven! His peace is your peace.
“His Peace Is Your Treasure”