Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Second Sunday of Easter

Second Sunday of Easter (C)
April 11, 2010
Text: John 20:19-31

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!!

Beloved in the Lord, Christ is risen, and we, His people, have tasted in full measure that the Lord is good. We have heard the Word of life. We have been forgiven of our sins. We are baptized into His death and resurrection. We have literally tasted His goodness in the bread and wine of the Supper, the true body and blood of our crucified and risen Lord. Yet St. Peter entreats us, as we entreated one another this morning in the Introit, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2; ESV). Milk? Really? In other words, the basics? Do we really need to return to the basics? Long for them, even? We so often tire of the pure spiritual milk. Especially after a spectacular holiday, holy day, like Easter, where with great pomp and circumstance we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. We feasted. The feast continues this morning. But Peter tells us to long for milk. We’d rather spice things up a bit. No more of this milk, all this talk of the “basics” of the Christian faith. We want less doctrine, less body and blood talk, less of the same, more change, any change, different worship, more excitement, more warm and fuzzies. Enough with the wholesome milk. Give us the volcano nachos and the cotton candy.

But here is the problem: We are infants. Our stomachs can’t handle the volcano nachos and the cotton candy. Nor are they good for us. They have no nutrition. They do not feed us. They make us unhealthy. We need milk. We need pure spiritual milk. Because this pure spiritual milk gives us peace, the peace the world cannot give, peace in the midst of doubts, peace that dispels all doubt, peace with God, the peace of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. On the evening of our Lord’s victorious resurrection from the dead, He came into the midst of His disciples who were locked away for fear of the Jews, who doubted the good news that Jesus had conquered sin and death, and He gave them pure spiritual milk. He spoke His Word: “Peace.” “Peace be with you” (John 20:19).

Beloved, this pure spiritual milk sustains our very lives in Christ. It is a matter of eternal life and death that you get this spiritual milk. And thanks be to God, it is readily available to you. The milk is the Word and the Body and the Blood of our dear Savior. His Word is peace. Peace flows from His wounds, His thorn-pierced head, His nail pierced hands and feet, His spear-riven side. It flows from His wounds and to you who believe in Him. He gives it to you right here and now, where He forgives your sins. For His peace is nothing other than the Holy Absolution, the forgiveness of sins. It is peace with God, from whom you once were separated, with whom you once were at enmity because of sin. All of that is over, because Jesus speaks His peace to you. The peace that Jesus gives is reconciliation with the Father, who is now your Father though your Baptism into Christ. The peace flows from His wounds. By His wounds you are healed. The peace comes not through the volcano nachos and the cotton candy, not through anything else but His Word of peace, preached, read, and distributed in the Sacrament. His peace comes to you through the pure spiritual milk.

This is why our Lord, on this night of His resurrection, instituted the Office of the Holy Ministry. “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld’” (vv. 21-23). Jesus established the Office of the Holy Ministry, beginning with the Eleven apostles, that the called ministers of Christ might distribute His peace, the peace of sins forgiven, by feeding His people with His pure spiritual milk: preaching His Word, Law and Gospel, teaching young and old all things whatsoever the Lord has commanded, conducting the public worship, baptizing, administering the Lord’s Supper, forgiving the sins of the penitent and withholding forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent. These are the basics, and Peter says that this is what you need, because in these means of grace your Lord Jesus gives you peace, real peace, His peace. And so also in this way, your Lord breathes on you the same Holy Spirit He breathed upon His apostles, the Spirit who creates and sustains faith, gathers you into the Holy Church, and gives you life in Christ.

You so need this milk, whether you know it or not. You so need this peace of Christ. You so need this Holy Spirit. Because you are infants. Like the disciples you fear, and lock yourselves away. Like Thomas, you doubt, and demand the Christian faith on your own terms. But this milk is given, these things are written “so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (v. 31). The only cure for fear and doubt and idolatry, the only cure for any sin, is the peace of Jesus Christ that flows from His wounds and is distributed in His Word, the pure spiritual milk.

You get that milk here. The milk is the Word and the Sacrament, the basics. St. Peter pleads with you to long for that milk. Long for it, because of your great need for it, and because you have tasted that the Lord is good. Cultivate within yourself and within your family and this congregation an appreciation for these gifts of Christ, a longing to receive them. Here are some practical tips for doing just that. First of all, be here! “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:25; NIV). Look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of your faith (Heb. 12:2). Come often to meet Him. Come as often as possible. Come to worship and pay attention. Pray that the Word of God enters your ear and fills your heart and proceeds to your lips in confession and praise. Listen to the sermon. Hang on your Lord’s every Word. Receive His body and blood with great rejoicing for your forgiveness and strengthening. Come to Bible class. Make sure the kids are in Sunday School. Learn as much as you can about your Lord and His marvelous grace. And this is not just a Sunday thing. Set aside time each day for the Word of God and prayer. Read the Scriptures daily. What a gift that you can pick up the Bible for yourself and read it with your own eyes. Not everyone can do that. It is illegal to own a Bible in some places in the world. It is illegal to be a Christian in some places in the world. Rejoice in the gifts you’ve been given. Do daily individual and family devotions. Utilize the resources of the Church. Immerse yourself in the Catechism and hymnal and prayer books of the Church. What a great resource we have in the Treasury of Daily Prayer. Use the Portals of Prayer that are free to you on the table in the narthex. Receive the Lord’s gifts. Don’t be legalistic about it. These things are free to you. But don’t withhold Christ from yourself in the name of Christian freedom. Receive liberally from His liberal hand. And having received, give. Confess. Confess Christ. Take Him into your daily vocations. Speak of Him with all those with whom the Lord puts you in contact. Love your neighbor with the love of Christ and provide for his needs. Live in your Lord’s gifts. Live by faith. Live by the milk. Live in your Lord’s peace.

For when you meet the living Christ where He has promised to be for you, in His gifts, you do indeed taste that the Lord is good. For He gives you His peace, dispelling all your fears and doubts. He gives you His pure spiritual milk. He forgives all your sins and imparts His Spirit. He speaks His dynamic and life-giving Word and places you in relationship to God as your heavenly Father. This is the victory that our Lord won on Easter when He burst open the tomb, defeating death forever. He did it all for you. There is nothing you can add to His victory. You only receive. Like infants. For it is all by grace.

Beloved in the Lord, He is risen! He is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!! In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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