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Absolution

April 7, 2018 Pastor: Rev. George Fyler

Verse: John 20:19

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John 20:19-23 ~ Absolution       Easter 2 "B"   CELC, Cleveland, Oh.     April 8, 2018 

INI

On 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."           John 20:19 ESV

In the name of the Father and of the (+) Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Dear beloved of the Lord:

Alleluia!  Christ is risen! … He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            The disciples are behind locked doors …afraid …fearful of the Jews.  "They murdered Jesus. What will they do to those who followed Him? Peter, you denied Him. The rest of us abandoned Him. Double check the locks Peter! Are we secure?

            Fearful disciples on that first Easter evening mimic Adam and Eve hiding from God in Eden’s bushes. Ten disciples on Easter eve are hunkered down, afraid to face anyone. After all, their sin is immense: denial and abandonment. But the big sin is  that they do not trust a suffering, beaten, crucified and grave yard dead Jesus to be of any good for them now. What will happen to them now? Punishment … a one-way ticket to hell?  Then Jesus shows up.  He comes right into the middle of the room full of fear-filled sinners. He doesn't even knock nor ask for permission to enter. Their Good Shepherd stands smack dab in their midst, AND HIS GOOD FRIDAY WOUNDS ARE SHOWING!

            The first word out of His mouth is: "Peace be with you." Peace? Yes, PEACE, it’s a liturgical word in John’s gospel, almost sacramental. The word “Peace” comes with the flesh and blood Jesus or there is no peace. He, their Peace, holds no grudge. In His Peace, they are not enemies. With His Peace, Jesus is not out to get them, but to reclaim them. He's their Good Shepherd gathering His sheep.  He’s the Savior, who’s Good Friday wounds have won the peace that means reconciliation."Peace be with you." Their sins are forgiven. He's put away their sin. Buried them in the black hole of His tomb. Why? Why would Jesus forgive them? They don't deserve it. They haven't earned it. He forgives because He loves them and died for them. "He showed them His hands and His side," sure signs of His death on the Cross.  At this revelation of His wounds, the disciples “rejoice.”  That’s right, Christ’s bloody wounded presence reminds them of the promise He made them that their sorrow would turn to joy. “… you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22

            Freshly risen from the dead He gives them a holy gift: "Peace," this is Holy Absolution and His words do what they say. They give what they say, forgiveness and peace. They are pardoned for everything; for all that's gone wrong, Peter's denying, their running away and not trusting their promised future in Him as He suffered and died.

            With the absolution spoken by the living voice of Christ—there comes fruitof the Spirit … joy. "The disciples were glad when they saw the Lord." No wonder, because they are forgiven, absolved; they didn't see that coming. The Lord Jesus Himself said so. They heard His voice: "Peace." He's not at war with them.There is peace. He died, He rose, and He's given them the benefits of His work in the speaking of Holy Absolution.

            Of what are you afraid? Whom do you fear? From what are you hiding? From whom are you hiding? "Nothing, Pastor.Everything's fine, Pastor. Don't worry about me, Pastor, I'm just fine."I know. I know. Pastors hear that all the time. But I know that's not true. Because you're no different than the full-of-fear—locked behind closed doors—disciples.  You are sinners, who, when push comes to shove, deny the Lord Jesus …Sinners, when the rubber hits the road, that run away as fast as you can …Sinners, who can't take the chance to trust Jesus with your lives, your sin, or with your death … Sinners locked in fear who believe falsely that Jesus is woundless, and that He will crush you when He finds out what you've done. So you hide.Pastor, I just got done telling you … nothin's wrong …everything's fine!" Oh, I heard you the first time. And you know what? That's just your way of staying behind locked doors. Hiding your nakedness from the Lord with flimsy excuses: afraid to trust Him with everything, especially your sins. You act as if Jesus is your worst enemy. No wonder there's lack of joy in your life. No wonder you're scared to death.  No wonder you brag about your sacrifices, your efforts, and your righteousness in order to overcome the truth of your guilt and fear.

            But right into your midst comes Jesus. The crucified and risen One! YourSavior … not your enemy and not your foe.

            He comes and speaks a Word that's full of the life giving Holy Spirit. His Word is absolution. 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 any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."

            Pastors are commanded by the Lord Jesus to speak absolution to sinners who struggle with sin and lead locked up and fear filled lives. "I forgive you all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son (+) and ofthe Holy Spirit," the pastor says.

            When you hear those words you're hearing the living voice of Jesus Himself.There's only one forgiver. And that's Jesus who died and rose. Absolution is His. And He speaks it through the pastors He sends to serve His Church.You are to receive the absolution from the pastor as from Christ Himself—believing and trusting that your sins are forgiven, totally and completely forgiven. Thereby accepting that the Pastor’s word of absolution does and gives to you what it says.

            On Sunday mornings we confess our sin in general and all together as a congregation. Christ's living voice is heard in the Holy Spirit filled absolution spoken by the sent Pastor.You also have the freedom to confess specific sins that bother you to your pastor in private before the altar in full confidentiality. You're free to go to him and confess sins that oppress your conscience—sins that won't let you rest—sins that lock you in fear and cause you to hide from Jesus.

            What's that? You say you don't have any sins that bother you? Really? Then your sin situation is much more of a problem than you will admit. You needJesus more than ever. Examine your life according to the Ten Commandments. They are God's spiritual CAT SCAN. Soon you will see just how big a sinner you are. You'll be shocked and amazed. The poison of sin goes very deep.

            And yet there's something even more shocking. In fact, it's quite amazing. Jesus forgives you. Your sins are not too big for Him. In private confession with your pastor you have the privilege as the died-for child of God to hear the living voice of Christ in the Pastor speaking Holy Absolution to you.

            What will the Lord do with you there? He'll forgive you with His Holy Absolution.The living voice of Christ is right here in your very midst. What a superb gift from your Savior.

            Thank you Jesus. Thank you for your Word of Absolution.

 In the name of the Father and of the (+) Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Alleluia!  Christ is risen! … He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

In the name of the Father and of the (+) Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

S.D.G.