Text: Revelation 1:4-18
Date: Easter II + 4/3/16
Peace be to you and grace from Him who freed us from our sins.
Except for Christmas and Easter this is the only Sunday of the year when we have the same Gospel for all three years of the lectionary. The record of the appearance of the risen Lord Jesus to Thomas seems to want to help us deal not only with any doubts like he had but to be taught how the now risen, ascended and ruling Savior, Jesus Christ the living King of the universe, changes us and how Jesus is now and remains closer to each believer even than He was during His earthly ministry. It’s really something to imagine what it would have been like to actually touch Him, eat with Him, hear Him with our ears. But it is really something more not to imagine but to know and be aware of what it is like to have Him so close now to spiritually and sacramentally, to really touch Him, and He us, to eat with Him, to hear Him with our ears. So this same Lord Jesus comes and is among us today, right now reassuring us saying, “I am alive forevermore.”
St. John the apostle and evangelist reports at the end of his Gospel how, in answering the apostle Peter’s question, “the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple [John] was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’” John did die, a martyr or witness for the Lord not in deed but in will. As an old man on the isle of Patmos around the year 95 ad Jesus gave John the revelation that would be the last word of the Lord, that is of the inspired scripture that forms the Bible. It is through these words that Jesus now speaks to us during this entire Easter season.
“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are you who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. That blessing is that you are already participating in the victory of the heavenly banquet of the bride and the Lamb. You received this blessing as I have already washed your robes in the blood of the Lamb, my blood, in your holy baptism. This is the only place you can hear and be certain that you indeed belong to me, that your name is written in the book of life, that you are a member of the household of God, a holy one of God’s own creation, because here in the golden lampstand of my Church we communicate in the word of my crucifixion and resurrection and in Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
“The blessing is spoken by my Father, Yahweh of old, from him who is and who was and who is to come, the Alpha and the Omega, the Almighty. It comes from God the Holy Spirit with His seven-fold gifts. It comes from me, Jesus, God’s Son. The nail marks in my hands and gash in my side show that I am the faithful witness of God, the firstborn of the dead. I am the only-born of my human mother, Mary, but I am only the firstborn of the dead as you are in line to be among the multitude and myriads of believers to also rise from the dead on the Last Day.
“On that Day I will be coming with the clouds and every eye will see me; every eye not only of those alive at that time but also every eye of every person who ever lived, raised from their graves for the final judgment. As I said while I was still with the first disciples, ‘the powers of the heavens will be shaken and all will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’ (Lk 21:25-28). Even now your redemption is drawing nearer than when you first believed (Rom 13:11).
“But what about right now, today and every day? John saw me. As he saw me briefly on that mount of transfiguration, finally he saw me standing in the midst of seven golden lampstands. I am still standing there in the midst of my Holy Church wherever it gathers in my name. I am still standing here in the midst of you. He saw me with a long robe as your great High Priest with the golden sash of my royalty. The whiteness of my head and hair proclaim my splendor and righteous wisdom, the splendor of my victory through and over death and my righteous wisdom of salvation for you who believe.
“Look into my eyes! The flame of fire you see means all who look to me as you are now are being purified from all sin and evil. My penetrating glance is not one of anger but of love, love that destroys all evil and death itself. And I am here to remind you that I do this all for you, for your benefit, for your salvation, for your life.
“John saw my feet standing on all having conquered death and the grave and all enemies. When John heard my voice it was aloud with the power and majesty and glory of God. The seven stars are you, my Church, firmly holding on to you with my right hand of mercy to bless and to comfort you every day all along the way. My word of Law and Gospel, of judgment and grace is like a two-edged sword, ‘piercing to the division of soul and of spirit…and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart from which no creature is hidden, all being exposed to my eyes to whom all must give account’ (Heb 4:12). John saw my whole person as brightness like the sun, the One through whom the glory and the life-giving light of God are now present for you.
“As with John so now I lay my hand, my right hand of mercy on you and say to you, fear not. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid of me or of anything evermore. All the power of God, the mighty power that not only created the world but now has delivered the world from the destruction of sin, death and the devil, all this power is now for you. Now I remind you today I am alive forevermore for you. I have the keys of death and the grave and now I bring you life, eternal life; life now as you are present with me in spirit and sacrament, and life forever in the resurrection.
“Dear Thomas of old, who is now with me in paradise, was only being honest when he demanded to see the physical proof that I was crucified and now am alive again. When he then believed he called me his Lord and God. And so I am, so I am also your Lord and God, your saving Lord and God. Unlike Thomas, however, you don’t have to see me with your eyes but with your ears and heart and spirit. Now I go with you today and all your days. Now you see me here, in this place, the golden lampstand of my Church where I assure you, saying, do not be afraid, peace be with you.”
Thank you Lord.
Grant us Thy peace throughout our earthly life,
Our balm in sorrow and our stay in strife;
Then, when Thy voice shall bid our conflict cease,
Call us, O Lord, to Thine eternal peace. (LSB 917)