Within the larger Thomas story is one of the the seed beds of Christian Doctrine. There are three places in scripture where Jesus gives to certain people the authority to bind and to loose sins. And it is really all three of them working together that gives us the full picture of God’s “superabundant grace and goodness.” This sermon starts from the seat in this text and preaches the forgiveness of sins specifically understood through the Office of the Keys and the Pastoral Office. With special attention paid to God’s both/and when we often desire an either/or.
Thomas and his doubt usually get pride of place today, but in the text Jesus repeats on phrase three times. And when Jesus repeats something it is usually worth paying attention to what that is. In this case it is peace, or more specifically “Peace be with You”. The Lord desires that his disciples have peace. The question is what does he mean by peace.
This sermon ponders on what type of peace the Lord brings. How that peace differs from what the world calls peace. And how that peace comes to reside in us and the life that it gives us. The resurrection peace of Christ be with you.
Authority is one of those words that, depending upon your context, can be a dirty word today. That is truly a shame because it used to be something that was exercised with wisdom. Those with authority knew they also had accountability. Those with it respected where it came from and its proper use. They knew authority came in multiple forms – hierarchical and moral – and that you couldn’t last long with the first if you didn’t respect and preserve the second. Authority was always a grant, a gift, a grace. It was never something that you earned. If you took it you were a usurper.
This sermon has a simple movement:
1) Our current trouble with authority
2) Authority abused by the chief priests and elders of the people and proper authority in Jesus
3) Jesus’ grant of his authority to his people in discipleship
It traces a deep vein in the Gospel according to Matthew of the sources and uses of proper authority.