Second Sunday of Easter
[John 20:19-23] 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.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
Jesus Risen & Sending
P: Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
C: He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!
On the very evening of His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples who were hiding in the upper room. He showed them His wounds and said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” “In the way that the Father has sent me, I am sending you in the same way”, Jesus was saying.
Brothers and sisters, just like how God the Father sent Jesus to you, so now Jesus is sending you in a similar way and for the same purpose. For what was Jesus sent?
You are being sent. Those eleven disciples, the apostles, were indeed sent. We know for what they were sent. Just as Jesus had been sent to them at the beginning of the Gospel to preach to them the Good News that the Kingdom of Heaven had now drawn near through Jesus, now, at the end of the Gospel, these apostles are sent to proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection to all the world. They are sent to be witnesses of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Beginning with Jerusalem, these disciples do go into all the world. They go to the Jews dispersed throughout the Roman empire. They go to Gentiles, non-Israelite people, in the middle east and across the Mediterranean as far as Rome, Italy and maybe even further. Some traditions say that Thomas – unfortunately labeled “doubting” Thomas – was sent all the way to, perhaps, India. They were all sent proclaiming to all people the Good News that a Savior, Jesus, had saved them. Death was defeated. This man Jesus is risen.
So, they were sent, and they went. Just as God has sent Jesus, now Jesus had sent them. But, brothers and sisters, just as the words “Peace be with you”, spoken from our Risen Savior’s mouth, are not words just for those disciples, so also the words “I am sending you” are not meant just for those disciples. “Peace be with you” is the word of our Risen Jesus for you. And “I am sending you” is the word of our Risen Savior for you.
You, brothers and sisters, are sent. Just as God sent Jesus, Jesus has now sent you. What are you sent for? Just like the disciples, you are sent to be witnesses who witness to – who speak to others about – all that your Savior Jesus has done. You are witnesses who tell people that Jesus died for them. You are witnesses who tell the dying that Jesus rose for them. You are sent to tell others all of what Jesus has to say to them and all of what Jesus has already done for them.
So what should you do, dear Christians? You’ve been sent. What should you do? Should you now go running through the streets shouting with a megaphone? Should you shout and annoy people on all their front porches, knocking on all their doors, and strong arming them all into a conversation about Jesus? Should you hold signs on all the street corners? Quit your jobs, say good-bye to your families, and all become travelling preachers? You have been sent after all. Should you all say goodbye to your nation each of you become missionaries to the depths of the deepest jungles? You have been sent after all, right?
Jesus has sent you, brothers and sisters, to be His witnesses. But what does it mean to be sent? When God sent Jesus, He was sending the Son of God to preach the Good News as the Son of God. When Jesus sent the Apostles, He was sending Apostles to preach the Good News as Apostles. When Jesus sends a man into the pulpit, He is sending a pastor to preach the good news as a pastor.
And when Jesus sends a mother to her child, He is sending that mother to preach the Good News as mother to her child. And when Jesus sends a father, Jesus is sending a father to teach the Good News as a father. And Jesus sends husbands to speak the Good News as husbands to their wives. And Jesus sends the wife to speak the Good News in the way that a wife speaks to her husband.
You are somebody’s friend. Jesus now sends you to speak the Good News in the way that a friend speaks to a friend (which perhaps is different person to person). You are a brother or a sister. You are a son, daughter, or grandchild. You are an employee of a boss. You are a boss of a worker. You are a neighbor to the person next door. You have various roles in life. Jesus has sent you to speak the Good News in these various roles, in the way that is appropriate for each role.
A few might be sent to be pastors. A few might be sent to the jungle. A few might be just right for knocking on someone’s front door. But you all have some of those various roles in life as friend, neighbor, mother or father to a child, sibling to a brother or sister, employee, employer, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, god-parent, child of an ailing mother or father, and so on.
Just as the Father has sent Jesus, Jesus has sent you into these various roles to be a witness of the Good News. The Good News is the news of what Jesus has done for that other person. You are sent to tell them. Jesus is Risen and He Is Sending, sending you.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” More specifically, Jesus was sent for what? Jesus was sent for what purpose? Jesus was sent for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus was sent to forgive sins.
God the Father sent our Lord Jesus Christ into the world not to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through Him [John 3:17]. The Father sent Jesus to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” [John 1:19].
Jesus died on the Cross for all sin – not His sin; He had none – but He died there for all of your sin and for all the sin of mankind. Jesus died the death of all the guilty. By Jesus’ death, the wage of sin is paid [Romans 6:23]. Sin is forgiven for the sinner. By Jesus’ resurrection to life, Jesus raises all the dead to new life. Through Baptism you have died and risen with Jesus [Romans 6:3ff]. Through Jesus, the sinner has died to sin and sin is forgiven. Guilt is cancelled. Sin erased, death gives way to life.
Jesus came for this forgiveness of sins. The “as the Father sent me” means “as the Father sent me to forgive sins” so now I am sending you. Just as Jesus was sent to forgive sin, so now Jesus is sending you into those various roles to bring into those roles the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is sending you to bring the forgiveness He won on the cross to those other people - and to bring that forgiveness into those relationships. Think of your many relationships. You are sent to be the one who brings Jesus’ forgiveness into that relationship – just as Jesus was sent to bring the forgiveness of God into the world.
God’s will is that you love one another. To do that you must forgive one another. You must love with the love of God in each of your roles in life. That is what Jesus has sent you for.
One role that I mentioned is the role of Pastor. I only mention it because Jesus did. The role of Pastor in the Church today is an outgrowth from the role of those Apostles in the Church back then. In a special way, Pastors are sent by Jesus to bring the forgiveness of sins to the whole Church and to individuals in the Church – to all who are repentant.
Jesus said to His disciples in that upper room on Easter evening, as He breathed His word onto 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.” [John 20:22-23]
This is where our practice of Confession & Absolution comes from, whether for individuals, privately, or in a group setting like on Sunday morning. Jesus has sent men into the role of Pastor to forgive confessed sins in a concrete way to give assurance that the sin is forgiven. He has even sent pastors to retain sins sometimes to help a person come to repentance. The goal is always God’s will of forgiveness.
God has not appointed most of you to be a Pastor, but He appointed you to many roles. In each of those roles, when you speak the words of the Gospel – when you say, “Your sins have been forgiven. Jesus died for you”, that very same forgiveness of sins is at work in those to whom you speak.
And, brothers and sisters, when you forgive a man or woman or child who has sinned against you, the love of God has come to that person through your act of forgiving them. When you forgive that person who sinned against you, the love of God encounters them and they can come to know God’s love.
You, brothers and sisters, are witnesses to all the good that Jesus has done for sinners. You are loved by the Risen Jesus. And just as Jesus has been sent for you, you have been sent to many. Forgive. Show the love of Jesus by your love. And share the truth about what Jesus has done for them. Amen.
P: Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
C: He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!