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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sermon 04152012 Easter 1, First Sunday After Easter

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray, Jesus Christ is Risen from the dead, Alleluia!  Just as the disciples gathered in the upper room with fear and doubt of the events of the last week, may we who gather here this morning understand fear and doubt is overcome by Jesus Christ.  For in Jesus Christ offering His life, we can more fully understand that our freedom is the gift of eternal life You freely offer to each of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

The disciples were afraid and doubted, but He is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia!

In the movie “Soul Surfer”, Bethany the main character after losing her arm in a shark attack, gets back up on the board, because she is a surfer at heart.  But reality deals her a cruel blow and the once champion, fails at the one thing she enjoys most, a surfing competition.  At a complete loss, searching her soul and about to give up, Bethany along the sea shore hears some words of wisdom from her father in the query of her question, “What do I do?”  Her father says, “Listen for what comes next”.

This morning we find ourselves with the disciples in the upper room following the tragic events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  The disciple like Bethany, don’t understand what to do, their leader, teacher, companion and friend, Jesus Christ was nailed to the Cross and died.  But the women now are telling them, “Jesus is alive”.  “He is Risen”!

Yet, in great fear of the Jews and the potential of experiencing the same fate that Jesus had experienced, the disciples have gathered behind a locked door.  But who should arrive, Jesus Christ Himself.  And immediately, Jesus Christ overcame the disciples fear.  The doors of the disciples hearts that had cowered in fear and ran when Jesus was taken by the soldiers was melted away like snow on a warm summer day.  The disciples who had walked with Jesus Christ, recognized Jesus Christ, not only His voice, His mannerisms and His sacred touch, but His mere presence radiated the love He had for His companions.  Jesus Christ overcame the fear that shackled the hearts of the disciples, because He was physically present with them in the upper room.

Not only was their fear melted away, but Jesus Christ overcame the disciples doubt.  Historically from the Gospels and Jesus miracles, when Jesus would raise someone from the dead, whether the little girl, Lazarus or the boy being carried to his burial, Jesus to prove they were not a spirit and were in fact alive, would tell the people, give them something to eat.  But Jesus Christ proved His being alive and melted the doubts of the disciples by showing His Hands, His Feet and His Side.  Jesus Christ made very tangible proof that He was not a ‘figment’ of their collective imagination, but really there with them in the upper room.

And Jesus first words to them were “Peace be with you”.  This Peace offered to the disciples was a peace of forgiveness.  With all of the disciples fleeing the Garden when He was taken, Peter’s denial in the Courtyard and now cowering in fear and doubt behind a closed locked door, Jesus saw into their hearts and forgave them for the doubt and fear and turned it into a strength for proclaiming, “He is risen”! 

You see, the disciples unlike we today had a tangible Jesus Christ present with them in a personal way.  The disciples could put their fingers into Jesus Christ wounds, feel the caress of His loving and forgiving hands and their doubts and fears disappeared.  For Jesus Christ offered to the disciples and to us freedom through His sacrifice.  The freedom they experienced was to proclaim to each other and the entire world the message of salvation found in Jesus Christ.  The disciples who saw the resurrected Jesus Christ like the women who went to the tomb early in the morning could now say, “He is risen”!  What is so amazing is that the message “He has risen” frees each and everyone of us this morning from the bonds of sin, death and the devil, because of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary.

The message of peace that Jesus Christ proclaims to the disciples and which Thomas wouldn’t believe until he touched Jesus Hands and Side, we believe today here at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Goodland Kansas on faith.  And this faith given to each of us through our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection, emboldens all of us to overcome our own individual doubts and fears and gives us the freedom found in Jesus Christ to proclaim the message of salvation for all of humankind.  We are emboldened by Jesus appearing in the upper room to proclaim “He is risen” and enabled to live not bound by our sins, but freed from our sins because of Jesus Christ.  For Jesus Christ clearly told the disciples, including Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.  For this is ‘what comes next’, our opportunity to share the message of salvation, not only with and for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  But we have the opportunity to spread the saying, “He is risen” to the ends of the earth since it is the salvation message won for all mankind through Jesus Christ on Calvary for you and for me and all of the saints of all time and place.  “He is risen” and we respond with the proclamation, “He is risen indeed, Alleluia”.  AMEN.


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