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Readings for Easter Wednesday (C)

Jesus-OpenArms

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, by the glorious resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, You destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light.  Grant that we who have been raised with Him may abide in His presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

First Reading: Acts 3:13–15, 17–19

13“The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. . . .

      17“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out. . . .”

Epistle: Colossians 3:1–7

1If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

      5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.

Gospel: John 21:1–14

1After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

      4Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them,  “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6He said to them,  “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

      9When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them,  “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them,  “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

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The Substance of our Faith

19On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”

      24Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

      26Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

      30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.  [John 20:19-31 (ESV) ]

1 What unbelief, not just doubt, looks like

The devil, the world, and our sinful flesh are mighty foes indeed to faith.  Truly, unbelief is an easy thing.  It comes natural to all of us.  As the Psalmist says, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5).  From birth man is cursed with an unbelieving heart.  Of ourselves and by ourselves, we do not know what it is to truly have faith in the Lord Jesus, for of ourselves and by ourselves, we are not able to receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to natural man, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned, as God reveals through the hand of St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:14).

It is a result of sin that natural man does not believe the promises of God or the Holy Word of God.  To remedy this state which man is in naturally, help must come from the outside, not from within.  Thus did God the Father send His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).

Man must be born anew and not remain in his first birth of sin and death.  Therefore does God give His Holy Word and Baptism, Word and water, by which your are washed of your sins and made clean, declared His child, and birthed anew of water and the Spirit (John 3:5).  Through the waters of your Baptism, God makes you new creatures.  The old has passed.  The new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Through Baptism, God gives faith, the faith given by means of the Word.  It is that Word, God’s Word, ‘in, with, and under’ the water, that gives new life.  Baptism is not water only.  It is water and God’s Word applied to the one who is Baptized.  God does the doing.  And God doing the doing means that it is done.

Faith takes this to be so.  Unbelief does not.  Unbelief wants proof, evidence, and verifiability.  It wants to see and know for itself with tangible kinds of evidence that can be handled, felt, and experienced. It doesn’t go on what another says.  It goes by what is felt in the heart, seen with the eyes, and known in the mind according to reason.  Such was the case with Thomas.  Whereas unbelief trusts what it knows according to the senses, faith in God rests in God and His Word, hoping for what it does not see and resting in another’s Word and Promise and not its own (Romans 8:24-25).

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the twelve disciples of our Lord, was a man with a nature such as we too are born with.  This one was not with the other disciples when the risen Lord Jesus Christ had first appeared unto to them on that first day of the week called Easter, the Resurrection of our Lord.  Though the others had certainly told Him the good news that Christ Jesus was alive and no longer dead, this news and their words fell on deaf ears.  Thomas did not believe them.  With hard-headedness and in unbelief did Thomas, one of the Lord’s chosen disciples, say that he would not believe that the Lord had risen form the dead, unless he would see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place his finger into the mark of the nails, and place his hand into his side (John 20:25).

This is a sure sign, not of doubt, but of stubborn unbelief, unbelief that denies the word of not only one voice, but several voices testifying to what had indeed been seen.  So much for the picture of a Holy Saint Thomas who believed what was told him and had not a thread of sinning unbelief yet in his heart!  But what of St. Peter, who dared rebuke the Lord Jesus for speaking the truth of what was to be, that Jesus was to suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day (Matthew 16:21)?  What of him who also denied the Lord three times and all who scattered like sheep when their shepherd Jesus was struck and arrested (Matthew 26:31, 56)?

Holy Scripture reveals such testimony of God’s people, and even His disciples, as sinners, sinners to whom God is gracious and kind, yet sinners who remain sinners, sinners with failings and weaknesses, sinners who doubt and even disbelieve God’s Word and promise.  This is given for your comfort and for help, for you, like the examples of God’s people in the Testaments, both Old and New, are of the same flesh and blood.  You too do not believe as you ought.  You have been given the witness of Christ risen from the dead, but you still at times fear.  You are at times uncertain.  You at times give in to temptation. Though you have God’s Word placed before you, it is not always evident that you are full of confidence and have complete trust in God’s Word alone all times and in all places.

 

2 The grace of God and the blessing of faith given from Him through His Son

But you, like Thomas and others throughout the Bible, are not left without help.  Yur Lord is compassionate to the troubled, kind to the meek, and gentle to the lowly (Matthew 11:29).  The stubborn He reproves and the exalted He humbles (Mathew 23:12).  Our Lord did not leave Thomas in unbelief, for Jesus had surely known what state Thomas was in on that eighth day when He appeared unto him an declared, Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe (John 20:27).  But these were not Jesus’ first words to Thomas and the disciples on that day.  Jesus’ first words were as the week before, but now Thomas also heard for himself and with His own ears that word which first proceeded out of the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).  That word was peace.

Peace unto you, Jesus said, who also stood in their midst, not as one dead, but as one who had died and was now risen from the dead (John 20:26).  With these words, Jesus calmed their fears and put to rest their anxieties.  Also for Thomas.  And also for you.

The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead is no myth, untrue event, or merely a teaching of what some had believed to have happened, but with no basis in reality.  Thomas and the other disciples had seen the Lord with their own eyes.  Thus does John write in his first letter,  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3).

The Word of life that John speaks of is none other than Christ, the crucified Christ, the risen from the dead Christ. Jesus who once was dead has burst forth from His three day prison.  If it had not been so, utterly vain and futile would our faith in a dead savior truly be, and more pitiable than all men would we be.  But now Christ is risen from the dead! (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, 20)

No longer are you in our sins.  Christ has conquered death.   This means your life.  The Good News is true.  Fear and anxiety is cast aside in the resurrected glory of Christ who has overcome death and the grave and through whom you too overcome death and the grave.  Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead means your bodily resurrection from the dead, which means that you need not fear death and the fear of death, for these Christ has overcome and swallowed up in His victory (1 Corinthians 15:54).

Holy Scripture testifies to the Good News of Christ’s resurrection from the dead and that peace with God through Jesus which the world cannot give and which passes all human understanding.  And through God’s Word preached and proclaimed, Christ speaks peace to your heart, blesses you with confidence before God in Jesus Christ, and gives you His grace and favor.  Unbelief is replaced by faith in God’s Son for your salvation, not because you see, but by God bringing about that faith in you through His mighty and effective spirit and life Word (John 6:63).  By means of that Word, God creates faith within your heart that you believe what you have not seen and trust alone in His promise through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God does not leave you on our own.  He does not abandon you to unbelief.  Rather does He, by means of His Holy Word, call you to the truth.  In His Word, you know that Christ is for you and not against you, Christ dying your death and Christ in the grave no longer.  But go not by His Word, and on your own and in your sin you will continue to be.  But thanks be to God!  God  has revealed His Son that you not remain in sin, but have eternal life.  Christ comes to you, revealing Himself as your risen Savior.  In Him is true confidence of a loving God and sure hope of the life to come.

3 The purpose for the Gospel of St. John, indeed, for all of the Holy Scriptures generally

The Thomas in our text did not believe until the Lord showed Himself to him.  But the Lord was kind and gentle to the troubled Thomas who trusted not in the word of others but only the self-seeking evidence of his own heart.  Jesus appeared to Thomas, nail prints, spear mark, and all.  And then did Thomas confess with his mouth what certainly was believed in His heart of Jesus, My Lord and My God! (John 20:28).  He confessed what was right and true because the Lord revealed to Him what was so. He denied it not any longer.

And that you may continue in the confession of Thomas, saying with him, My Lord and My God unto Jesus Christ, Jesus reveals Himself to you, too.  By means of His Word, even the testimony of the Apostles and prophets, God makes known unto you that we are indeed sinners, but sinners for whom Christ died.  These things, writes St. John, are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you have life in His Name (John 20:31).  You stumble and fall, but your Lord who comes unto you is gentle and kind.  He speaks to you the word of peace; peace with God, sins forgiven, and life everlasting in Christ Jesus.  He gives you His Word, that you hold to it and believe it, trusting His promises.  And thereby does He give you certainty of His favor and mercy.  Amen.

The peace that passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

The Authority of Jesus’ Word, even over death

1Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

28When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus wept. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

38Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. (John 11:1-53)

The words of Caiaphas, who was high priest at the time he said them, were prophetic.  When He said to the others, It is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish, he was speaking the truth, even the truth of our salvation, though he knew it not.  Caiaphas was saying these words to the Sanhedrin in order to direct them on how to save themselves from the Romans coming in taking their place and their nation.  What He didn’t realize, though, was that he was also speaking of God’s love, not only for the Jews, but for all people, that Jesus die for the sins of all, though He Himself had none.

The background for all of this discussion of the Sanhedrin, the council, the chief priests and the Pharisees, concerning Christ Jesus was none other than what we heard in the Gospel account of St. John, even the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

The man Lazarus had been dead for four days, four days, when the Lord cried out with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth (John 11:43).  Here was a man who had no breath and no life, but Jesus raised him who was dead from the grave.  Here, Jesus demonstrates His authority over death.  He shows His power over the tomb.  The stone did not prevent Lazarus from coming out and neither would death itself keep him from approaching at the Lord’s call.

The Lord’s call to Lazarus did not go unheeded.  Nor does the Lord’s call today go unheeded.

Jesus indeed had said, Truly, truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live (John 5:25).

Christ speaks to you the very Words of life.  He raises you up from the deadness of our sins to new life in Him.  Because His Words are spirit and are life, they give what they say and say what they give (John 6:63).  He speaks forgiveness.  You are forgiven.  He speaks life.  You live.

The power of God’s Word does this.  Jesus Christ is that Word incarnate, through whom life, even eternal life, is given.  In the deadness of your sins, there is nothing awaiting you but death, even eternal death, but because of Christ, eternal death is no more a threat.  Even temporary death, the last trial of life, does not defeat.  When the Lord returns in glory, you shall meet as He is in our resurrected bodies.

As Jesus had said to Martha, the sister of Lazarus, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die (John 11:25-26).  Of Himself Jesus speaks.  Right in front of her was THE resurrection and THE life.  Though He Himself would die, even as Caiaphas had said, It is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish, so He would also rise again on the third day.  Death would not hold Him.  The grave would not keep Him.

And so it is for all who live and believe in Him.  Such is the promise of the Lord, He shall never die.  What is meant here is not the physical death of the body, where the heart stops beating and the lungs cease.  What is meant here is that one who lives and believes in the Lord will not die eternally.  God grants everlasting blessedness and joy to they who trust in the Lord’s salvation, even Christ Jesus, who died for the people that the whole nation, the whole world, would not perish but have everlasting life.

The fact that the dead man Lazarus was raised from the dead was a work of God that none could deny.  Even the Pharisees, upon hearing the news, could not denounce the testimony of so many witnesses.  They were not able to refute the evidence that Lazarus, the one who was dead, was now alive.  And they say as such when they said, This man Jesus does many signs; signs, by the way, which they themselves were not capable of doing, and signs, too, which they could not disprove nor speak against.

In speaking as they did, and as unbelieving as they were, the true colors of the Pharisees and chief priests showed through. Because they did not believe, they could not but act against the truth that they saw with their own eyes.  Their hearts were hardened and something was to be done.  Where hearts are hardened, the truth of God will not only not be accepted, but fought against.  This we see here.

In their deliberations, meetings, and planning, their disdain for the truth, Christ Himself, and the love that they had for themselves appeared through the words of Caiaphas, words that they all agreed upon.  Jesus must die.  It would be better Him, the scapegoat, than us and our positions of honor and our nation.

The council of the Pharisees and the chief priests agreed to bring about the death of another in order to protect themselves.  They were not concerned about the people nor about peace.  They were concerned about what would come of them.  Their thoughts and motives were turned inward on their own well-being rather than on that of their neighbors.

What a distinction we see between the motives of the self-righteous Sanhedrin to protect their own selfish interests at the expense of another and the motives of the other on whom the Sanhedrin would dish out their death wish.  The Sanhedrin were completely self-centered.  Christ Jesus was completely other centered.  They meant it for their own good, without the thought of any others.  Jesus meant only for the good of all people and not for Himself.

Though the wicked do not believe, and though the wicked act completely for themselves, even if giving the impression of doing things for others, as the Pharisees and chief priests in our text, God works selflessly for the good of others.  This we see going on in Christ.

Jesus had authority to lay down His life down that He take it again (John 10:17).  Jesus Himself says, No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again. This command I have received from My Father (John 10:18).

The Sanhedrin could take no action against our Lord except it be permitted them to do so.  Here foreshadow the words of the dialogue between Pontius Pilate and Jesus, where Pilate asks Jesus, ‘Where are You from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?’ Jesus answered, ‘You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin’ (John 19:9-11).

Pilate had been given authority from above to carry out the death of Jesus.  So had the Sanhedrin been permitted to arrest Jesus in the garden by the hand of Judas Iscariot.  But the truth remains that they did not have the last word.  Though the wicked have their way, God even works through what we cannot comprehend.  He saves through the death of Jesus that the whole nation and world not perish and to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

This is what Jesus did and does.  The Sanhedrin meant to do Jesus harm.  And they did.  But through that harm that they did to Jesus, even pushing for His death on the cross, Jesus would save the world and draw all men to Himself.

Through Christ’s death, God reconciled Himself to the world (2 Corinthians 5:18).  No longer are you at odds with God and He with you.  Your sin is no longer charged against you.  No longer are the children of God scattered abroad.  They come together in Christ.  He is your Head.  Christ and His truth truly unite.  The reason all are not united is because all do not accept the truth.  This is why there are so many denominations today.  But the Lord alone saves.  All people will not perish.  Christ our Savior has come.

Jesus has taken the full brunt of God’s wrath upon Himself, that wrath that you rightfully deserve because of your selfishness and your self-interests above the interests of others.  What Caiaphas the high priest said was true, more true than He ever knew.  Christ’s death was not only for them, sinners as they were, but for all sinners; and through Him forgiveness, life, and salvation is reality, reality for all who take a hold of His work and Word by faith, not doubting, but believing it as He says, and taking it as He gives.

All who believe in this Christ, this Jesus who died for all people, none excluded, who gave His life a ransom for all, that none perish but have everlasting life, these have the promises of God as their very own (1 Timothy 2:6; John 3:16).  Though some meant Christ’s death for His harm, God meant it for our good.

This is the truth that surpasses understanding.  Even through what isn’t right and what shouldn’t be, God works out the good pleasure of His will.  This in no way excuses what isn’t right or what shouldn’t be.  God’s good pleasure can and does work through these, but this doesn’t mean the stamp of approval is ever on what is not right.  God’s Word stands against wickedness and evil.  But even through these, God brings about good for His beloved, even us.

Though we don’t always see how these things are so, we don’t need to.  It’s not our concern.  What is our concern is what God has done and what He gives for our salvation.  By means of His Word, and Holy Baptism, and the Sacrament of the Altar, He assures you and gives you His grace and favor.  These are sufficient to give you that peace which the world cannot give, but only that which Christ can and does.  Amen.

The peace that passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

What Luther Says (Plass)

Resurrection

In his interpretation of 1 Cor. 15:2 Luther points out that here especially one should not consult reason and the senses.

3875 An Article of Faith in the Word, p1215

If you want to judge according to what you see and feel and, when the Word of God is set before you, want to pit your feeling against it and say: You tell me much; but my heart speaks a different language, and if you felt what I feel, you, too, would speak differently – then you do not have the Word of God in the heart but have quenched and extinguished it by your own thoughts, reason, and brooding.  In short, if you will not let the Word mean more to you than all your feeling, eyes, senses, and heart, you must be lost, and there is no further help for you.  For we are concerned with an article of faith, not an article of your reason or wisdom or human power and ability.

Therefore you must judge solely according to the Word in this matter, irrespective of what you feel and see.  I, too, feel my sin and the Law and the devil on my neck.  I feel that I lie under these as under a heavy burden.  But what should I do?  Should I argue according to such feeling and my own ability?  In that case I and all men would have to despair and perish.  If, however, I want to be helped, I must assuredly turn about, look to the Word, and say: I do indeed feel God’s wrath, the devil, death, and hell; but the Word speaks differently to me.  It tells me that I have a gracious God through Christ, who is my Lord over the devil and all creatures.  If feel and see plainly enough that I and all men must sink into the grave and there decay.  But the Word speaks differently to me.  It tells me that I shall rise in great glory and live forever. (W 36, 494f – E 51, 89f – SL 8, 1103)

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