Quasimodogeniti (Easter 2)
Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
April 15, 2012
Central Passage
John 20:19-31

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

A wicked and adulterous generation asks for signs.  No sign shall be given but the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the belly of the earth, and on the third day He shall rise again.

God gives His own witness about Himself.  He doesn’t depend or rely on our witnesses of or about Him.

Thomas demanded a sign. Jesus rebuked Him.  We demand signs. The Lord rebukes us.

We’re pretty sure we’re not going to be shown the stigmata on the hands and feet of Jesus, not until the end of days, anyway.  So we ask for other signs, for other proofs that Jesus is real, that Jesus loves us, that Jesus is who He says He is.

A job offer that goes through is seen as God’s love for us.  Of course, lots of unbelievers have better jobs that many Christians.  A winning lottery ticket must mean that God loves us. Of course, lots of unbelievers win the lottery, too.   If we have good friends and a kind family we say that God has blessed us and loves us.  And He does. But there are unbelievers who have a good family life and good friends, too. 

If a Christian survives what should have been a fatal accident, we say this is a sign of God’s love.  But what do we say when they don’t survive?  Lots of unbelievers survive near fatal accidents, too.  God gives daily bread to all people without our prayer, even to all evil people.  What is meant by daily bread?  Everything that has to do with the support and needs of this body and life.

What signs do you look for to prove to yourself that God loves you?  A perfect marriage? Perfect children? A peaceful church? A full church?  A raise at your job?  A new home?  A trouble-free life?  Better health?  Repent, for no such sign will be given.  Here is God’s sign to you, His proof to you that Jesus is risen from the dead and that you are loved and redeemed by God: His Word preached to you and His sacraments given to you.

God gives His own witness about Himself, about His will for us.

But how can we prove that Jesus rose from the dead?  How can we convince the unbeliever? How can we convince the one who has doubts?  We can’t.  Only God can convince the unbeliever.  Only God can convince the one who doubts.  Only God can convince you.

But many churches and many Christians think that God’s witness is not enough.  They like the preached Word, but they want more.  They think others need more.  So they invent witnesses and rely on other witnesses that what God gives.  They go on and on about dreams and visions, puffed up by their imagination.  They think that by their unique experience others will believe.  But faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ.

I’m not saying these visions and dreams are a lie or don’t happen.  God be praised if they do happen.  But they are not witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus.  They are not the witnesses we stake our belief on or by which we bring others to the faith.  For faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ, not by the testimony of men.

And here is the testimony of God: the Spirit and the water and the blood. But even here, many of you are still waiting for me to prove it.

Like Thomas, we continue to look for proof, and we will our whole life long because the devil has made enthusiasts of us all.  But most of us aren’t really looking for proof that Jesus rose from the dead.  We’re okay with taking that on faith.  Most of the time.  No, what tempts us is to hunt and look for and demand proof that Jesus is here with us and that He approves of us.  That He is in control of our lives.  That He is indeed the Good Shepherd.  And with so many proofs to the opposite – the death of our loved ones, sickness, poverty, addiction, abuse, hatred, divorce, abandonment, and other such vile things – we are desperate for proof that Jesus does in fact love us, that He is indeed with us, and that He does indeed approve of us.

An adulterous and wicked generation asks for a sign. No sign shall be given except the sign of the Son of Man, the witness of His apostles and the bread that we break and the cup that we bless.  This is the testimony of God by the Spirit in the water and through the blood.  But like Thomas did not believe the witness of his fellow apostles, but demanded signs and proofs greater than what was given, so we do not believe the Word and sacraments, but demand proof.  We hunt for other signs, other proofs that Jesus is with us and approves of us.

So instead of depending solely on God’s witness in Word and sacrament, we talk about how we know Jesus is among us because of the types of hymns we sing or because the sermon moved us and inspired us or because church was full or beautiful.  Our biggest sign is our emotion.  We want to feel like Jesus is present.  We want to feel like He approves us.  We want to feel like we’ve worshiped and have been accepted.  It is easy to imagine that Jesus is present when everything is wonderful and like we want it.  It is something else to stand alone on the Word of God when everything has gone to pot.

That’s why so many churches abandon the Word and sacraments – the witnesses of God – and embrace whatever makes them feel like God is present.  Man’s witness will always be emotional and sensational because man always demands proofs more than what God gives.  Man is always a wicked and perverse generation asking for more signs than the sign of Jonah and the witness of the Spirit, the water, and the blood.

But we Lutherans are not enthusiasts.  We do not believe that Jesus is present among us and with us because of our preparations or feelings.  Jesus isn’t here because the hymns and songs are particularly moving and inspiring or because the sermon might give us the chills and make us feel good about ourselves and our lives.  We believe Jesus is among us because He has said He is among those who gather in His name and adhere to the apostolic teachings, which is why doctrine really does matter.  Regardless of how we feel or what’s going on in our heads and hearts, Jesus is among us according to His promise: I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age.

So what if we invited our friends and neighbors to this gathering, the Lord’s gathering, without fear of what they’re going to think of us?  What if instead of inviting them to church, which has all manner of stigma attached to it so they ask what type of church, what do we do at church, what should they wear to church, and so on and so forth, detracting from what is really going on here.  What if instead, we invited them to come and see Jesus?  What if instead of saying to the Christian who doesn’t go to church because she believes that Jesus is in her heart and finds Jesus wherever she feels spiritual – something that isn’t true and certainly not in the Bible – we said to the non-church going Christian that Jesus is going to meet us this week and we’d like them to be there with us.  At the very least this would open some heretofore closed doors of communication and thought about what attending this sacred gathering is all about.  And we might just gain our brother.

Blessed are you who have not seen the nail marks in His hands and feet, and yet believe according to His word that He is risen and is with you and among you even unto the end of the age.

+ In Nomine Iesu+