Sermons by Pastor Walter Snyder plus announcements, articles, videos, and anything else that doesn’t fit Ask the Pastor or the Luther Library.

07 April 2013

Sermon: Easter 2 C (Gospel)

7 April AD 2013

Title: Freed to Speak Freedom (MP3 Audio)

Prisoners Summary: Like the jailed apostles in today’s reading from Acts, all of us are trapped. However, these same men are imprisoned already in the Gospel. As Richard Lovelace wrote in To Althea, from Prison, “Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage.” These men were prisoners of their own minds, their personal and corporate faithlessness.

The apostles weren’t alone. It might be external pressure or internal fear; excessive carnality or delicate spirituality. Take your pick: War, disease, famine, doubt, worry, accident, financial woes, or death — even times of wealth — any and all of these can confine us more tightly than the most imposing prison of stone and bars.

Fear had turned the key on the apostles. Similarly fear — or lust, self-pride, self-loathing, and any other sinful attitudes and actions — shut and seal the doors on us. Yet into the locked upper room — and the locked hearts and minds of the disciples — came the One who declared freedom to the captives (cf. Isaiah 42:7 and Luke 4:18) and who effected their release through His suffering, death, and resurrection. Proving Himself risen, He freed His apostles from their sinful fears that He might then free those who heard the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection from them.

To this day, the Lord forgives and frees people through the Church and her ministers. That first generation of apostles, pastors, and teachers gave way to hundreds and thousands more who have received and believed the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. In preaching, teaching, and absolving, they breathe out this life-giving, fear-ending, jail-breaking Good News and, as the Spirit works, their hearers’ faith is kindled, fed, and constantly refocused on its Object, Jesus Christ.

The minsters’ message is the message of the entire Church. Whether we hold vocations churchly or secular, we have the privilege of testifying about the “reason for the hope that is in [us] ... with gentleness and respect.... (1 Peter 3:15)” This hope is the certainty of our freedom from sin, death, and devil and Christ’s blood-bought guarantee of everlasting life in Him.

Jesus and Thomas Text: 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.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 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.”

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”

But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:19-31

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Freed to Speak Freedom.

NB: For some reason, a few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio if Windows Media is their default MP3 player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 148; Acts 5:12-20; Revelation 1:4-18

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