Second Sunday of Easter – April 17, 2017

Christ Gives Us Peace and Proof

These are the readings for the Second Sunday of Easter.

God’s Word for This Week

In the face of doubt, Christ gives us proof and peace. To the doubting disciples, he gave certain proof that led to certain peace. Through his Word and sacraments, Jesus gives the same proof to all people of all time. “Peace be with you,” said our Lord. Then he sent his people forth with this message of peace based on the proof of his resurrection.

Traditional First Lesson – Acts 2:14a, 22-32

What was the purpose of the miracles that Jesus performed?

Peter said that those works were God’s certification that Jesus came from God and did God’s work. Those works bore witness that Jesus’ message was God’s message. They attested to the fact that he was the promised Messiah. As David, we too can be filled with joy and hope confident that God will not simply leave our bodies to decay in the grave. We are one of God’s “holy ones” certain of the joys of eternal life.

What do the words quoted from Psalm 16 teach us about death?

Our attention is once again directed to the empty tomb. While many religions hold out a hope of either blessings here on this earth or in the hereafter to their hearers, that hope is acquired as one earns them. Thus, one can never be sure and their hope is tainted.

Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” However, Jesus had good reason to let the disciples see him with their own eyes: they were to be his witnesses. When Peter stood before the crowds on Pentecost, we see the purpose for all the resurrection appearances of Jesus. He showed himself to them; he ate and drank with them; he let them touch his flesh and bones; he showed them his holy wounds. Jesus let them see and touch because they weren’t just looking for themselves. No, these eleven would be the witnesses of the bodily resurrection of Christ for all ages. Through the eyes of these eleven men, God gives his Church the gift of proof and the gift of peace.

Supplemental First Lesson – Acts 10:34a, 36, 39-43

How did new Christians receive the blessing of proof from Christ’s Easter resurrection appearances?

The Gentile believers to whom Peter spoke had never seen the risen Lord. But Peter had; Peter had watched Jesus eat and drink; Peter had touched and felt his risen body. God had made his disciples both apostles and witnesses of the resurrection so that they could provide proof for the Gentiles. They were sent to give this proof and proclaim Christ’s peace to these new Christians who fulfilled Jesus’ promise to Thomas: they had not seen, but yet they believed.

Second Lesson – 1 Peter 1:3-9

What does Peter mean when he says we have a “living hope”? (verse. 3)

A Christian’s hope is a “living hope” because it is founded on Christ, our Savior, who has conquered sin and death and has given us the sure promise of eternal life.

Gospel – John 20:19-31

What greater meaning did the common greeting, “Peace be with you!”, take on when spoken by Jesus that first Easter evening?

Peace was one thing the disciples did not have. They had questions, concerns, and doubts. But they had no peace that Easter evening as they huddled behind locked doors. Jesus was dead—killed on a Roman cross—and now fear held them in its icy grip. They lacked more than peace of mind; the disciples also lacked any peace of spirit. Shame hung heavy on their shoulders. Grief and guilt weighed down their hearts. They had great doubts about their Lord, their lives, their salvation. But then Jesus came! In the face of all their doubts he offered proof that he was alive and sin was dead. Jesus showed them his nail-marked hands and riven side. These holy wounds are the proof positive that God is at peace with us. Thomas could be the poster child for our existential culture. No matter how many times the others told him about the resurrection, he set himself against them all. Thomas required more evidence. He must see him with his own eyes; he must touch the wounds—more than that, he must thrust his hand into Jesus’ side (cf. the coarseness of the Greek). Unless he got the evidence that he demanded, he would in no way ever believe it. What grace we see in Jesus! He comes again and repeats Thomas’ objections nearly word for word. Again, he gives the ultimate proof that he was alive and sin was dead. Jesus gave the proof that led to peace for Thomas, peace that could only be found in his Lord and his God.

What comfort was gained when Jesus showed the nail marks?

It absolutely proves that he wasn’t a ghost. The nail marks also were a visible reminder of the forgiveness that was theirs through Christ.

What did Thomas confess?

After having struggled with doubt earlier, he now boldly confessed that Jesus is the one true and eternal God. Thomas confessed that Jesus was indeed his gracious Savior. Jesus had overcome the doubt and unbelief of Thomas.