How Christ Enters our Hearts

Easter 2 Sunday

John 20:19

“But on the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were gathered and the doors locked out of fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them: “Peace be with you.””

 

In this gospel reading the fruit of faith is praised and faith’s nature is indicated. The fruits of faith are, among others, also these two, peace and joy, as St. Paul says to the Galatians, in Galatians 5:22, where he enumerates all kinds of fruits: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, gladness, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, chastity.” Accordingly, two parts are indicated here. First, Christ stands there among his disciples who sit in fear and fright and whose heart is not content, must expect death at any hour – to them he comes, comforts them by saying: “Peace be with you!” That is one fruit of faith. Second, from the sweet word follows the second fruit, that they were glad that they should see the Lord. Later on, he gives faith power and authority over all things in heaven and on earth and exalts it most highly and truly when he says: “Just as the Father sent me, so I send you,” and then: “Receive the Holy Spirit; if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; and if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Now we want to consider one after another. As we have often said, faith should be such that each appropriate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have now said enough times that it is not enough to believe only that he rose from the dead. For neither peace nor joy, neither power nor might result from such faith. Therefore, you must believe in this way: He rose for your sake, for your benefit. He was not placed in a position of honor for his own sake, but in order to help you and all who believe in him. Sin, death, and hell have been overcome through him. This is what the figure means that Christ enters through the closed door; that he steps into, and stands in, the midst of the disciples. For the standing means nothing but that he stands in our hearts; there he is in our midst so that he is ours, just as he stands here in the gospel and the disciples have him with them. And as he now stands in the midst of our hearts, we soon hear a lovely voice when he says to the conscience: “Be at peace; there is no distress. Your sins are forgiven and taken away. Nothing shall ever harm you.” And the same kind of entering the Lord does into the heart he did through the closed door, entering through wood and stone while leaving everything intact and not breaking anything, but still he enters to them. This indicates the way in which the Lord comes into our heart and how he stands in us: It happens by means of the preaching office. Thus, since God commanded to preach his Word, we should in no way despise the mortal man into whose mouth God has placed his Word. Accordingly, we should not think that each should wait for a special sermon from heaven in which God would speak to him orally. Therefore, if God wants to give faith to any, he uses the means that he carries it out by means of the human sermon and through an outward, bodily word. This is what entering through closed doors means: when he enters the heart through the Word while he does not break or upset anything. For when God’s Word enters, it does not injure the conscience, does not upset the heart’s understanding and the external senses – unlike the false teachers who destroy all doors and windows, break in like thieves, do not leave anything in its place, and cause all life, conscience, reason, and mind to become incorrect, false, and injured. Christ does not do this. Now, this is the power of God’s Word. Thus, we have two parts, preaching and believing. His entering is preaching. His standing in our heart is believing. For it is not enough that he stands before our eyes and ears. He must stand in our midst, in our hear and offer and give us peace.

 

St. Louis ed., 11:724-726.

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