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

John 20:29

Exodus 20:1-6; John 20:19-29 “Christ is Lord”

  • Sermon Details
  • Pastor Name: Rev. Daniel J. Commerford
  • Date & Time: April 10, 2016

They may not be the best movies, but some of the most memorable movies are those that have twist endings. Those are the types of movies that stay in our memories forever. Many of us still remember that moment when Charlton Heston’s character realized that the ape-filled land was not some far away planet, but rather his own planet earth in the distant future. All of us remember that moment in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader reveals that he is Luke’s father. And most recently, I am sure a lot of us were shocked at the end of The Sixth Sense when it turned out that Bruce Willis’ character was dead the whole time. But these endings don’t just shock us that moment. They change the way we look at the entire movie. When a film has a great ending like that, I always find myself going back and re-watching the movie and seeing everything differently in light of my knowledge of the ending.

As people who follow the Risen Lord, we approach our faith in the same way. Two weeks ago, we celebrated the joy of the empty tomb on Easter Sunday. But the empty tomb does not just change the ending of the story. Rather, it changes the entire story of God and his relationship with all of us. The empty tomb validates Christ’s claim to be God’s son, and it validates his teachings that command us to love God with all our heart and to love our neighbor in the same way. The empty tomb also changes the way we look at the entirety of Scripture. So as Christ’s disciples, everything we read in the Old Testament is read through the lens of Jesus Christ.

This is especially true with the Law, which is laid out in the 10 commandments that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. As people who believe in the empty tomb, we know that Christ did not come to abolish these laws, or to usher in a new law. Rather, he came to fulfill them and reveal the God’s intention for the Law in the first place. For that reason, we are not called to throw out what God has spoken to Moses and the Prophets of the Old Testament, but rather view them through the lens of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ that was fulfilled with his resurrection from the dead. With that in mind, we are going to spend the next 5-6 weeks to look at the Ten Commandments and see how we can use them to have a fulfilled faith in light of Christ’s resurrection.

So, starting in the Book of Exodus, God takes Moses up on Mount Sinai to give him 10 commandments that Moses and his people must follow if they want to be completely righteous. And the first 6 verses lay the foundation upon which every other commandment is built. “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt. You shall have no other gods before me.” At the very core of God’s relationship with Israel is that they put God before everything, and everything else that they value falls within the context of their relationship with God. And I think God made this first because he knew that it was Israel’s biggest struggle. Time and time again, Israel would worship other gods, and only came to their true God when they were in trouble. In a nutshell, Israel had a hard time making God their Lord at all times, and because of that, it made it impossible to perfectly follow any of the other commandments. It all started with their failure to make God their Lord.

In the Gospel story we read, Thomas was having the same problem. At this point, Christ has been raised from the dead, and his lordship had been proven to all his followers. But Thomas had a hard time believing. He didn’t believe because it didn’t make rational sense to him. So it wasn’t a lack of faith in Jesus that made Thomas doubt, it was his adherence to his own set of possibilities that prevented him from initially believing in the Risen Lord. Instead of making Christ Lord and reorienting everything in his life to flow from his lordship, Thomas chose to make his own rationality the most important thing in his life. In the beginning of this story, Thomas wasn’t ready to submit his own sense of possible and impossible to Christ. For that reason, he did not initially believe.

Thomas’ temptation to attach stipulations to his belief in Christ is something that I think we all struggle with from time to time. Through Christ, we know that the 1st commandment God gave to Moses can only be followed if we make Christ the Lord of our lives. But instead of doing just that, we all make the same mistake that Thomas made and attach those stipulations to believing and following Christ. That’s why, when we hear Thomas’ story, it’s kinda hard not to feel for him. I mean, who wouldn’t have a hard time believing that someone was alive after being executed three days earlier? For some of us, we share Thomas’ struggle to make Christ fit into our own ideas of what is right and wrong, or our own ideas of what does and doesn’t make sense. For others, we struggle with giving up our sense of pride, or our desire to control everything. And for others, we struggle with abandoning that one thing we do that we know is wrong but just don’t want to stop doing. All of us, like Thomas, struggle with surrendering every part of our hearts in order to make Christ Lord.

That’s why I love how Jesus responds to the situation. He had already proved everything he needed to prove when he was raised from the dead. Jesus had every right to lock Thomas out for his inability to believe. But Jesus didn’t do that. Instead, he went to Thomas and offered his hands and his side. Even though he didn’t have to, Jesus did what was necessary to get Thomas to believe. In the same way, Jesus, in his mercy, gives us all multiple opportunities to realize his revelation and recognize him as Lord. He knows that all of us have our struggles, and that all of us come to him with our own stipulations. But instead of holding that against us, Jesus does what is necessary for us to come into his presence and believe! He gives us his Spirit to speak to us every day, he gives us the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper to remind us of his grace, and he gives us each other to learn and grow together. These are all ways that Jesus gives us grace.

But, while Jesus gives us grace, he also expects more from us. Jesus showed his wounds to Thomas, but also told him that those who believe without seeing will be blessed. Making Christ lord of our lives is a continual process of giving our all of our hearts to him unconditionally. That means we don’t just go to him when we are in need of something. We don’t just go to him when it’s convenient for us. If we truly believe that Christ was raised form the dead on Easter morning, then we are also called to make him the Lord of our lives, giving up our own sense of what should be so that our will can be aligned with his. That means a lifetime of submission, giving up what we think should be ours so it can be Christ’s.

And while that will be hard work, it will ultimately lead us to a faith that is fulfilled in Christ. As many of you know, I’ve been a drummer for a long time. But I never took serious lessons until I was in college. By the time I got there, I had taught myself a lot about drumming, and could do a lot of cool things. But my instructor let me know that I had to let go of that and rebuild my chops so that I could become a better drummer. He said I had built a tower that went high, but had missing floors that I had to go back and build. And that was hard work! But as I gave up my own sense of drumming and let him teach me from the ground up, I became a much better drummer.

In the same way, we can rejoice that the God who we are called to make our Lord is a living, loving, and eternal God! My prayer for us this sermon series is that we all take time to reflect on the core of our faith, which is the revelation of Christ risen at the empty tomb. And as we see how his resurrection changes our faith, we have an opportunity to reshape our faith around him. So let us journey towards Christ together, making him Lord so that our faith can be fulfilled in him forever. To God be all glory, honor and praise, amen.