Resurrection Reality: The Living Lord Gives Proof and Peace

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Watch the livestream beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. After the livestream is finished, the video will be available to watch at any time.

First Lesson: Acts 18:1-11 (NIV)
Second Lesson:  1 John 1:1-4 (NIV)

Gospel: John 20:19-31  (NIV)


  • Hymn: CW 563 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”
  • Hymn: CW 938 “This is the Feast”
  • Hymn: CW 456 “O Sons and Daughters of the King”
  • Hymn: CW 830 “We Walk by Faith”
  • Hymn: CW 824 “This is the Threefold Truth”

Salem Lutheran Church 

Pastor Jon Enter                 SalemLutheran.org 


Theme: Looking For Jesus

Text: John 20:24-31


A defendant was on trial for murder in Oklahoma. There was strong evidence indicating guilt, but there was no corpse. In the defense’s closing statement the lawyer, knowing that his client would probably be convicted, resorted to a trick. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for you all,” the lawyer said as she looked at her watch. “Within one minute, the person presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom.” She looked toward the courtroom door. The jurors, somewhat stunned, all looked on eagerly. A minute passed. Nothing happened.

    Finally, the lawyer said, “Actually, I made up the previous statement. But you all looked on with anticipation. I, therefore, put it to you that there is reasonable doubt in this case as to whether anyone was killed and insist that you return a verdict of not guilty.” The jury then left to deliberate the verdict. A short time later, the jury returned and pronounced a verdict of guilty. “But how?” inquired the lawyer. “You must’ve had some doubt; I saw all of you stare at the door.” The jury foreman answered back, “Oh, we did look. But your client didn’t.”

All of the disciples were staring at the door—waiting. They were looking for Jesus to again walk through that locked door at any moment, just like he had on Easter Sunday evening. Most of them…but not Thomas. Thomas was convinced Jesus was dead.

Thomas had not seen with his own eyes the resurrected Jesus and so he doubted he could be alive. At the time of our text (a week after Easter Sunday), Jesus had been busy making resurrection appearances. He revealed himself to Mary Magdalene at the tomb on Easter Sunday morning (John 20:10-18). He made a special one-on-one resurrection appearance also on Easter morning to Peter to lift up his downcast soul after he denied Jesus three times (Luke 24:34). Jesus caught up to two of his disciples who were fleeing the danger and emotion of Jerusalem on Easter Sunday afternoon and he spoke with them along the way to the town of Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). And still on Easter Sunday, now at evening, Jesus miraculously caused his glorified body to pass through the security of a locked door as he appeared to his confused and scared disciples showing he was, in fact, risen from the dead (Luke 24:36-49).

There is one common thread to each of these experiences. Every single follower of Jesus that he appeared to was absolutely convinced that Christ was still dead. Some of them, even after seeing Jesus alive needed more convincing. Mary spoke with Jesus at the tomb and was so tearful she thought Jesus was a gardener. The disciples on the road to Emmaus were so distraught they spoke with Jesus for over an hour and didn’t recognize their Master. The disciples were so terrified of Jesus that they thought he was a ghost. They thought they were seeing things!

Have you ever imagined what it must have been like for Thomas to be the one left out disciple? Have you ever pondered how shocking it must have been to behold the image of Jesus staring back at you? Well now, you don’t have to wonder! That’s right! Step right up…step right up for your own personal resurrection glimpse at Jesus! Yes, that’s right folks…destroy any doubt you might have in the resurrection of Jesus. For just $1,518 dollars, you can buy a plane ticket for tomorrow morning and fly to Turin, Italy, to see the Shroud of Turin and witness with your own eyes the image of the glorified and risen Lord Jesus! (Are you picking up on my sarcasm?)  

Actually, save your money. If you fly over to Italy, you wouldn’t be able to see it. It’s only been on display four times in the past 100 year. What is the Shroud of Turin? It’s the alleged burial cloth of Jesus; this ancient cloth is 13.5 foot long by 4 foot wide in a single piece of fabric. The Shroud of Turin is thought to be the burial cloth of Jesus because it has an embedded depiction of a bearded man who was crucified. 

Historians argue back and forth as to the authenticity of the Shroud. Some say it must be the burial cloth that Jesus left in the tomb on Easter Sunday because they didn’t have the technology in the 1300’s to embed an image in the cloth that is only visible in negatives of photographs. Others shout out that it’s a fake, a fraud, a phony because no one knew about it before the 1300’s. Both sides vehemently defend their position.

As with anything that deals with faith, we let the Bible guide us. A simple reading of God’s Word reveals two fatal flaws to the Shroud of Turin. “Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs” (John 19:40). Did you catch them? 1) Jesus was buried in strips of linen and not one large sheet. 2) Jesus was buried according to Jewish burial customs. The Jewish custom was to wrap the body in a multitude of linen strips while the head received its own special cloth. This cloth was wrapped around the head in such a way as to keep the face exposed. This completely separate cloth for the head is backed up within scripture as John described the scene of the empty tomb, “The burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head was folded up by itself, separate from the linen” (John 20:7). Looking at the Shroud of Turin, it is one large sheet that covered both head and body. The Shroud of Turin is obviously contrary to the Bible! 

So why do people view it? Why did 1.5 million people make a pilgrimage to see its fraudulent fibers back in 2014? They want something tangible; they want to see to believe. They end up basing their faith on some visual proof (that is no proof at all). The people interviewed who left the viewing of the Shroud continually commented on how it made them feel closer to God because it was a glimpse of Jesus right before their eyes. Christ felt more real to them now.

How sad. They have not digested the words of scripture! They have not applied to their lives Christ’s words embedded within the fibers of His Holy Word! When Jesus appeared in the upper room a second time, He showed Himself to Thomas. After Thomas saw Jesus and came to the realization that Christ was truly alive, Jesus said. “Because You have seen me, You have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

Those who believe they are spiritually blessed both in this life and in the afterlife by viewing the Shroud are looking for Jesus in all the wrong places! What started 700 years ago with a long sheet of cloth is still happening today. People are looking for Jesus in all the wrong places. The image of Jesus has been found in a candy bar, in a frying pan, in the smoke of the Twin Towers on 9/11 and, most famously, on a grilled cheese sandwich that sold on the internet for $28,000! Apparently, looking for and finding the image of Jesus is big business; but it is also a big bust for your faith.

Again, let the words of Jesus echo in your ears. “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) Looking for Jesus in your next Big Mac from McDonald’s might net you a few bucks on Facebook Marketplace but it can bankrupt you spiritually. We know those examples of finding Jesus are ridiculous. But it is also spiritually ridiculous to look for Jesus, to look for answers to any of life’s questions, in any other place than the pages of scripture. It’s spiritually dangerous to look for your self-worth and approval from your job. It will fail you. From a romantic relationship. It won’t sustain you spiritually, eternally. From your children or parents. They aren’t your reason for hope, for peace, for security, for your self-worth. There is one place, one Person, that fills your soul and makes you worthy! 

Thomas wouldn’t believe without seeing Jesus’ resurrected body. God knows we are like Thomas so He recorded in great detail that Jesus rose. And Christ appeared not just to the list of people we discussed before. Jesus appeared to over 500 believers proving He was alive! 

Our proof is found in the pages of Scripture preserved and protected in truth throughout the centuries! “But these are written 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 20:31). God’s Word is the only answer to the doubts that any of us have. Everything we need to know to enter into His eternal glory is contained within His instruction manual. We have no need to search elsewhere for understanding. We have no need to look to a shroud, a grilled cheese sandwich, a horoscope or even the opinion of the historical experts. We need simply to take our fingers and our eyes and look for Jesus in the pages of scripture. There He reveals Himself to us—His love, His perfection, His mercy.

When we read His Holy Word, He cries out to you as He did to Thomas, “Doubt not, believe!” “Doubt not that you are worth my love. Doubt not that you are forgiven even the most damnable of sins. Doubt not that I care for you and watch over you. Doubt not that the rough patch that you are stuck in is for your eternal good. Doubt not that when you bring your sins, your trials, your temptations and even your tinniest of concerns to Me, they become My priority.” Friends, doubt not these words of Psalm 103:8-12, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities…as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” 

Thank the Lord that He does not treat us as our sins deserve. The Lord declares, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8). These words do not cause us any doubt. These words do not cause us to go looking for more proof of His love. We have all the proof we need in the Bible and in the continual blessings He pours upon our lives. It’s time to celebrate—to celebrate His goodness to us! No matter the storm that attacks or assails us, Jesus is the solid foundation of our faith. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand (Christian Worship Hymn 563). You are standing firmly on the rock of Jesus. Amen.   

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