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Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Quasimodogeniti: The First Sunday after Easter.
John 20:19-31




Quasimodogeniti, The First Sunday after Easter, 2012
  
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn # 199                 Jesus Christ is Risen  1:83
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel               
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #200                I Know that My Redeemer            1:80

How Christ Comes to Us

The Communion Hymn #187            Christ Is Arisen                     1:45
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 195 (Luther)            Christ Jesus             1:46

First Sunday After Easter

Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, that of Thine ineffable grace, for the sake of Thy Son, Thou hast given us the holy gospel, and hast instituted the holy sacraments, that through the same we may have comfort and forgiveness of sin: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that we may heartily believe Thy word; and through the holy sacraments day by day establish our faith, until we at last obtain salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

KJV 1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

KJV John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


How Christ Comes to Us

John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

The Gospel of John is extremely important for supplementing what we know about Christ from the first three Gospels. Whenever the Fourth Gospel tells us something that is not in the first three, we know that he—inspired by the Holy Spirit—knew this was essential for believers to know. Or, the Fourth Gospel adds essential details.

In some cases it was not necessary to repeat the narrative but to give more of Jesus’ teaching about the topic. For example, the Fourth Gospel may be the most sacramental of the Gospels, yet the baptism of Jesus and the Last Supper are not detailed. They are reflected upon but not described.

Some other characteristics of the Fourth Gospel are worth repeating:
  1. John has many long sermons from Jesus, unique to the Gospel, including the I AM passages.
  2. The Father-Son relationship is constantly emphasized.
  3. The geography is precise, so the author knew the area first-hand. We know he was the Apostle John.
  4. The purpose of the Gospel is to create faith, for believing in Christ is salvation.

Apostates want us to think that everyone is forgiven, everyone is saved. That is the foundational doctrine of the Left-wing mainline denominations, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Unitarian-Universalists. They imagine that all they need to do is say God is gracious, everyone is saved, join my church. WELS even had an “evangelism” banner that said that – “You are saved, just like me.” The DP who denied this, Jon Buchholz, also published the same bizarre dogma, in a convention essay “critical” of the Kokomo Statements.

KJV John 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

In other words, the Gospel of John is written so that people hear about Christ, what He did and taught, so they might believe in Him, have forgiveness and salvation in His Name.

KJV Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other Name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

KJV John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him [doubting Thomas], I AM the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.

John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

Lenski put the situation into context:
Now the situation is the following. Ten of the eleven were together with a number of other disciples. The women who had met the angels and then had seen and heard Jesus early in the morning had brought this news. Peter and John had seen the strange sight in the tomb. Mary Magdalene had seen the angels and Jesus himself and had brought the message from him. What thus occurred in the morning of this wonderful day did not produce faith among the disciples (Luke 24:11 and v. 22, etc.), save the littleness of faith in John’s silent heart (v. 8). then came the appearance of Jesus to Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5), of which we know the fact and the effect but no details, not even the hour or the place. Finally came the report of the two disciples who had gone to Emmaus, Luke 24:35; when these two returned, joyful faith had already spread among all those gathered together. While the two from Emmaus are still speaking (Luke 24:36), Jesus appears to the entire company. Luke 24:36–48 and John 20:19–23 deal with the same event.[1]
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 1363.

KJV Luke 24:36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them. 44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things. 49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Locked Doors
The locked doors are significant, because they contrast the fear of the disciples and the power of Christ.

Fear is the opposite of faith, so we should turn to the Gospel Promises when we are fearful and anxious. And when we let fear take over, faith flies out the window.

Christ’s appearance is also important. He does not scatter the furniture, as Luther pointed out in discussing the fanatical sects. The Pentecostals of Luther’s time and ours want to have us think that conversion means leaving at once for Borneo or doing something else radical and disruptive, to prove this change.

Our hearts may be locked against all outside forces and the Gospel, but the Gospel penetrates the heart in spite of our hardness of heart. God does this in many ways, but always through the Word. Sometimes misfortune or the consequences of our actions make us distrustful of our own wisdom. Then we see the Gospel in a new light.

I hear many stories about people getting away from false teachers and abusive leaders, feeling the wounds and yet glad to hear the Gospel with a new appreciation.

The disciples, at this point, were carefully taught for three years, knowing and seeing what Christ predicted. And yet they were overwhelmed with fear and lacking in faith, which grew slowly. They stayed locked up for a week. Christ carefully nurtured them, berating their lack of faith but also building it up.

We experience that building up when we hear the Gospel, such as this blessing pronounced upon all of us – “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.” Jesus Himself pronounces this blessing upon us for believing in Him without having visible evidence, only the Word of God.

Every single liturgical service ends with a three-fold blessing. That should be not be taken as the end of the service but the beginning of a new week. “The Lord bless you and keep you…The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you…The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-25. [Schuller’s “God loves you and so do I” is rather tepid compared to the Trinitarian blessing, no?]

Just as we receive peace from God at the end of the service, Jesus began with granting peace to His disciples.

Peace is the primary greeting in Judaism. Jerusalem means a “place of peace,” a note of irony in history. Shalom is the peace greeting, still used. Peace is always associated with faith and salvation in the New Testament, because the forgiveness of sin brings peace.

The locked doors remind us that Christ was never bound by any kind of barrier in Creation, since His human nature was never limited by His divine nature. He passed through crowds several times in His public ministry. He left the tomb before it was empty. Nothing is sadder than resurrection art that shows His angels opening the tomb for Him. That would mean His creation (the angels) released Him from the stone tomb He created.

Gerhardt:
The Father offers up His Son!
The Son, content, descendeth!
O Love, how strong Thou art to save!
Thou beddest Him within the grave
Whose word the mountains rendeth. “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth”

This issue involves more than art. John Calvin had trouble with the Two Natures of Christ. In his commentary on John he had Jesus enter the locked room by a secret entrance. Others have Jesus hiding before He revealed Himself. Here is Calvinistic logic, which I find among the UOJ fanatics too – If Jesus could not leave the sealed tomb by Himself or enter the locked room, then He cannot be in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. Starting with a false assumption, anything can be stated as true when it is just the opposite.

Therefore, if someone asks, “How can the bread and wine also be the Body and Blood of Christ after consecration?” – the answer is in the locked room, the empty tomb, and the crowds that surrounded but did not impede Jesus.

One might as well ask, “How can God hear spoken or unspoken prayers?” One bit of rationalism leads to another. That is why rationalistic Christianity will lead one into Unitarianism. How can God be Three and yet One? These are all mysteries revealed by the Holy Spirit in the Word.

A Jehovah’s Witness said to me, “How can Jesus pray to God. That means God is praying to God. I can’t understand it.” I said, “Neither can my dog, but that does not mean it is false.” Rationalists have to change the Bible to fit their assumptions. JWs and UOJs are identitical that way. JWs have their own Bible, and the UOJ fanatics have the NNIV.




20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

When Jesus displayed His hand and side, they knew they were looking at their Teacher, the risen Lord. They knew the tomb was empty. Now they were filled with joy at seeing Him.
The resurrection appearances were the completion of the training of the apostles, the twelve main leaders (Judas was replaced) and the 500. Jesus taught them during this time to merge their Old Testament training with their Gospel message, so all those Old Testament passages, which they knew so well, became foundational for all they said about Jesus. That is also why the new congregations began with an Old Testament in Greek, to support Jewish Christians and to train non-Jewish Christians.

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

This is the Office of the Keys, an essential work of the Christian Church. Jesus emphasized the apostles’ connection with Him, His connection with the Father. Just as He was sent by the Father to do His will, so He is sending the apostles to do the will of Christ. Granting forgiveness is one part of this work. Not granting forgiveness is another.

Someone said, “The retaining key is hanging, rusted, on the peg.” False doctrine is excused, forgiven, and even supported. The most heinous sins are covered up, denied, and even excused. Offering forgiveness to the unrepentant is the worst possible approach, because it hardens the heart of the recipient and it also damages the soul of the cheap-grace giver.

When people ask about children growing up to be sociopaths, the answer is often the neglect of the parents and taking the easy way out. Excusing and protecting bad behavior only makes it worse, and soon the parents share the evil by protecting it.

That is even more true of church officials, who should be guarding sound doctrine instead of promoting Fuller Seminary opinions and criminal church workers.

Arkansas fired their coach immediately for unethical and immoral conduct, which also reflected poorly on the school, but the Missouri Synod DPs allowed a convicted sex offender (his step-daughter was 13 years old) to become a “lay pastor” even though he was thrice-divorced  - so he could molest another minor in a congregation. Moreover, the officials had the earlier news report, heard his own rather self-serving confession, and still encouraged him to become a “lay pastor.” When their felonious behavior became public on Steadfast Lutherans, the slavering jaws and raking claws appeared from beneath the ovine fleece they wore. All discussion was banned because—get this—it was sinful to question their leadership.

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

Doubting Thomas is worth following in the Fourth Gospel. He has some of the best lines, as they say. He wondered how anyone could know the way Jesus was going.

KJV John 14:5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

Jesus responded, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

When Christians wonder if Jesus is indeed the only way of salvation, I quote them this response and ask if they can find an exception to “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Another choice saying is Thomas suggesting that in going toward Jerusalem, to help Lazarus, they can all die together.

KJV John 11:16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

No one stated his doubts more clearly than Thomas, but that does not mean the others were free from this problem. Nor are we.

This nickname, the Twin, is found only in John. So is this great narrative of Jesus returning and offering to have His wounds seen and touched by Thomas.

When Jesus returned a week later (marked by this Sunday), He commanded Thomas to do what Thomas asked. Lenski made a good point about this.

Lenski:
But the situation does not turn on such an alternative. The decisive factor is the command of Jesus. It is couched in two peremptory imperatives. It is not Thomas who deliberately does what he said he would have to do before he believed; it is Jesus who now demands that he do this very thing. Those aorist imperatives compel Thomas to do what he now would gladly not do. These two imperatives tell us that Thomas did what he was thus commanded to do. John does not need to add another word. By compelling Thomas to use his finger and his hand as bidden Jesus is not punishing him. Far from it. A week ago he had commanded the other disciples in the same way: “Handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have,” Luke 24:39. That the disciples had, indeed, handled Jesus as these two aorist imperatives in Luke plainly imply is evidenced by 1 John 1:1, “and our hands have handled of the Word of life.” That which Jesus considered vital for the other disciples in order to make them “witnesses” in the fullest sense he certainly would not now allow Thomas to fail to do. He was now made a witness to the same extent as the others. Jesus looked far ahead in this insistence with regard to Thomas.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 1388.

Jesus revealed a number of times that He was not a ghost, a dream, a vision, an apparition. This is important for remembered the concept of the Two Natures of Christ.

Once He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary, the Two Natures (divine and human) were united in One Person. Although He seemed to die only as a human, He died as the innocent Lamb of God, paying for the sins of the world. When He rose from the dead, His body bore the marks of His death, but His human nature did not limit His divine nature in any way. Thus He left the sealed tomb and entered the locked room.

Thus He is also present in both natures in the consecrated elements of Holy Communion. When we pray to Him, He hears our prayers and helps us in our weaknesses, because He was tempted in every way (without sinning), so He is our Mercy Seat.

Doubting Thomas needs a postscript, because he—of all the apostles—conquered the most blatant and audacious unbelief. He ignored the witness of all his fellow disciples and declared a faith that would be supported only by seeing and touching those wounds.

Thomas is considered by Christians in India as their apostle. According to tradition he preached the Gospel there. One province of the sub-continent is mostly Christian, so they call their church body Mar-Thoma, after Thomas.

The Gospel is not against Thomas but for us:

KJV Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

I often despair of getting through to Lutherans, who deny what Luther wrote (but use his name), who reject the teaching of the Book of Concord (while calling themselves “confessional Lutherans”).
Lenski has a good paragraph on unbelief. He fought against his little American Lutheran Church (1930 merger) going weak in inerrancy. They silenced him, even though he was a former district president, former pastor, former seminary professor, and honored author and magazine editor. The 1930 merger weakened their stance on the Scriptures and the next version of the ALC in 1960 did even more damage, leading to the 1987 ELCA merger.

Lenski:
Unbelief always was and always will be unreasonable. This is glaringly plain in the case of Thomas. For him all this unanimous testimony of all these people, whose character for veracity he knew so well, amounts to nothing. The fact that all of them, like himself, had never dreamed of Jesus’ resurrection, had thought it impossible, and had then been convinced from this unbelief by overwhelming evidence, affects Thomas in an opposite way: he determines to set himself against them all. The more they speak to him and the more they present the facts, the more stubborn Thomas becomes. He has been called “doubting Thomas,” but he does not doubt, he is openly unbelieving. He challenges the evidence the others present. They have only seen—seeing does not count. If he is to believe he demands two lines of evidence, seeing plus feeling with his own finger and his own hand. And even the feeling must be twofold, that of the holes in Jesus’ hands and that of the gash in his side. Thomas demands what he deems a real test. What the other disciples claim to have is not nearly enough for him. Here the silliness of unbelief comes to view. If sight can be deceived, sight which takes in so much, what assurance has Thomas that feeling, which takes in far less, will not also be deceived?
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 1380.

The Word of God belongs to Him alone. We do not have the freedom to change it to suit ourselves or to stay employed by unbelievers. Nevertheless, because the Word belongs to Him alone, we can trust that sowing this living Word will always bring His results, will always prosper His work, will never return to Him void.

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The Bible has only one purpose – to convey Christ to us through the Gospel, from Genesis through Revelation. The Gospel produces faith and sustains faith, which receives the grace of God in the forgiveness of sin.

19. The leading thought, however, for us to learn and retain from this Gospel is, that we believe that Christ's resurrection is sure and that it works in us so that we be resurrected both from sin and death; as St. Paul richly and consolingly speaks of it, and Christ himself here, when he says: "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed," and St. John concluding this Gospel teaches and admonishes about the use and benefit of the resurrection: "These are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and believing ye may have life in his name."

20. This is indeed a powerful and clear passage, which highly praises faith and gives the testimony that we certainly have eternal life through the same; and that this faith is not an empty, dead thought on the history about Christ, but that which concludes and is sure that he is the Christ, that is, the promised King and Saviour, God's Son, through whom we all are delivered from sin and eternal death; for which purpose he also died and rose again; and that we alone for his sake acquire eternal life, in a way that is called in his name, not in Moses' nor in our nor any other man's name, that is, not because of the law, nor of our worthiness and doings, but alone on account of Christ's merits, as Peter says in Acts 4, 12: "There is none other name among men, wherein we must be saved," etc.

Quotations

"Thus we have two parts, preaching and believing.  His coming to us is preaching; His standing in our hearts is faith.  For it is not sufficient that He stand before our eyes and ears; He must stand in the midst of us in our hearts, and offer and impart to us peace."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1983, II,  p. 355.               

"This is going through closed doors, when He comes into the heart through the Word, not breaking nor displacing anything.  For when the Word of God comes, it neither injures the conscience, nor deranges the understanding of the heart and the external senses; as the false teachers do who break all the doors and windows, breaking through like thieves, leaving nothing whole and undamaged, and perverting, falsifying and injuring all life, conscience, reason, and the senses.  Christ does not do thus."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, II, p. 355. 

"Hence I send you into the world as my Father hath sent me; namely, that every Christian should instruct and teach his neighbor, that he may also come to Christ.  By this, no power is delegated exclusively to popes and bishops, but all Christians are commanded to profess their faith publicly and also to lead others to believe."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, II, p. 359.   
          
"The first and highest work of love a Christian ought to do when he has become a believer, is to bring others also to believe in the way he himself came to believe.  And here you notice Christ begins and institutes the office of the ministry of the external Word in every Christian; for He Himself came with this office  and the external Word."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, II, p. 359.

"Now God drives us to this by holding the law before us, in order that through the law we may come to a knowledge of ourselves.  For where there is not this knowledge, one can never be saved.  He that is well needs no physician; but if a man is sick and desires to become well, he must know that he is weak and sick, otherwise he cannot be helped."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, II, p. 370. 

"For the devil will not allow a Christian to have peace; therefore Christ must bestow it in a manner different from that in which the world has and gives, in that he quiets the heart and removes from within fear and terror, although without there remain contention and misfortune."
            Sermons of Martin Luther, II, p. 380.   
               
"Reformed theologians, in order to support their denial of the illocalis modus subsistendi of Christ's human nature, have sought, in their exposition of John 20, an opening in the closed doors, or a window, or an aperture in the roof or in the walls, in order to explain the possibility of Christ's appearance in the room where the disciples were assembled."
            Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1950, II, p. 127.





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