First Sunday after Easter.
At that time when there was a great famine in Samaria, it happened that a woman because of hunger had boiled her son and ate him, but the other woman would not allow her son to be slain. When the Samarian or Israelite king heard this terrible thing, that because of hunger a woman had boiled her son and eaten him, he became angry with the prophet Elisha who had promised, in God's behalf, that the Israelite nation should become rescued from the war of the enemy. The king thought that the prophet had lied, and therefore he intended to kill the prophet. But prophet Elisha said to the elders of Israel, "See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away my head?" Then the messenger of the king came down unto him and said, "Behold this evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?" (2 Kings 6, 25-33.)
Natural man awaits the Lord as long as all goes well with him, but when the Lord does not come quickly to help, he says, "Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?" That is to say that nothing comes from God. And then he begins to hate those who have encouraged him to await help from God. So that evil king thought that it was the prophet's fault that such great famine came to the city that a woman boiled her son and ate him. But the prophet again gave a merciful promise in God's behalf, that the Lord will truly save the city, and that grain will be sold very cheap the next day. But the king's counselor did not believe God's promise through the mouth of the prophet, but said, "If the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be?" Then the prophet said to the king's counselor, "Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shall not eat thereof." And so it happened according to the prophesy of prophet Elisha, that the king's counselor could see with his eyes the grain of God, but he could not taste of it, for he was trampled to death by the people. These matters and happenings are written in 2 Kings, 6th and 7th chapters. The effects of unbelief are of many kinds, as this king's counselor showed his unbelief openly when he said, "Behold, this evil is of the Lord, what should I wait for the Lord any longer?" It is heard that impatience is the first fruit of unbelief. When a person cannot have things as he wishes, he becomes impatient and becomes angry with God. He does not become angry with the devil who made him unfortunate, but he becomes angry with God, who does not help as soon as a person wishes. This evil king did not become angry with the enemy, which surrounded the city and caused famine to the people, but he became angry with the servant of God, who had promised them help in God's behalf. And when hunger pressed the people so greatly, that some woman lacking a conscience boiled and ate her son, then the king became angry with the prophet, as though he would have been the cause of the enemy surrounding the city. Or was the prophet the cause of that, that the woman lacking a conscience ate her son because of hunger? No doubt the evil king so thought, that the servant of God was the cause of all the misfortune and wretchedness which happened to the people. When the devil reverses the eyes of the unbelieving ones, they begin to accuse the Christians that because of them God punishes the heathens, although some sorrowless have the belief that because of the Christians the world is being preserved. But the heathens also have that belief that God protects them from all misfortune, not because of the Christians but instead because of the meekness of the heathens, for the heathens have such a faith that heathens are no worse than Christians, and heathens do not consider Christians to be people at all, as long as Christians condemn the heathens. But if the Christians would stop condemning the heathens and would begin to drink, whore and fight with heathens, only then would the heathens believe that Christians are the right kind of people. And the hatred of heathens would especially cease if the same kind of faith would come to the Christians and the same kind of life as heathens have. Prophet Elisha had rebuked the people of Israel of their ungodly life, and the king was also angry toward him. Nevertheless the servant of God could live so long as the outward distress was at hand, and the prophet had also promised in God's behalf that the enemy would not get to ravage the city. But all patience ended as soon as one unruly woman, lacking a conscience, slew her son and ate him because of hunger. The king's intellect became offended by that, and now he decided with his blind intellects that the prophet was a false prophet when help did not come soon, according to the promise of the prophet. Now he had to teach that false prophet, who had supposedly lied when he had encouraged the king and the people to await help from above, and this help did not come as soon as the king hoped. Then all patience ended, all faith, all hope; and that false prophet, who had supposedly lied, must now first receive his well-merited punishment, but that unruly woman who committed such an abominable deed was freed of all punishment. Such is the faith and order of salvation of a heathenish person: a Christian who encourages to repentance must be killed, but he who does such abominable deeds is freed of all punishment. A heathen becomes angry with the Christians for that good teaching, but he does not become angry with the enemy nor with other heathens who commit abominations. This evil king cast all his hatred upon the prophet who was innocent, but he was not angry with that murderer who had boiled and eaten her son. There is also another example of the unbelief of the king's counselor, which shows that he did not believe at all that the Lord can help the people from famine and the oppression of the enemy. This counselor especially showed his unbelief also with those words when he said, "Behold this evil is of the Lord, what should I wait for the Lord any longer?" No doubt he thought that it no longer pays to trust on the Lord, when the Lord punishes so severely that parents because of hunger eat their children. But also another word showed his unbelief, when the prophet gave him that promise that flour would be coming the following day, and so cheaply as it had never been before, then the king's counselor said to the prophet, "Behold if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be?" This was only a natural matter, and therefore more possible than spiritual ones are, which are difficult to believe, although many say that a person cannot trust bis body in God's care. But how then can he trust his soul if he cannot trust his body, which is nevertheless the less valuable part of a person. Surely, for that matter, all heathens easily trust both when there is no distress, but in time of distress they do not trust either.
Through God's grace, we must more broadly observe the effects of unbelief, and how terribly unbelief has become rooted in the heart of man. May that great Author and Finisher of faith, who has saved many unbelieving souls from the bog of unbelief and doubt, draw and raise up those wretches from the bog of doubt, who are sinking there up to their armpits. And you unbelieving Thomas, put your finger into the prints of the nails, if you dare, or cover your eyes and go away in shame. Only watch out that you do not tear the wounds of Jesus anew if you begin to dig at his wounds with black fingers. Hear, you great Author and Finisher of faith, the sigh of the doubting ones. Our Father who art in the heavens, etc.
The Gospel: John 20:19.
Since many a Thomas still struggles with unbelief, although he is truly a disciple of Jesus, so through God's grace at this time we must take heed and consider: Why does Thomas not want to believe that Jesus has arisen, even though ten witnesses testify to it?
Put your finger into the prints of the nails now, Thomas, if you do not want to believe otherwise.
Thomas has surely seen Jesus dying on the cross, he has stood with the other disciples near the cross, he has wept and lamented with the other disciples. Therefore Thomas's old faith has entirely ended, he is no longer able to believe, no matter who would tell him that Jesus is living. Thomas does not believe that others too have seen the Lord. There now is one fruit of unbelief, that Thomas does not believe that the other disciples were in a better condition; he does not believe that the other disciples have seen the Lord. But where was Thomas when Jesus appeared the first time? Was Thomas then in the liquor merchant's house? We cannot believe that either, that he was in the liquor merchant's house, for the soldiers and murders of Jesus usually go to the liquor merchant's house on Easter Day. Is Thomas then in the wedding halls when he is not among the disciples on Easter Day? I believe that Thomas has such great sorrow over the Saviour's death that he is not able to run after whores. For the whores, and especially those meek whores, prepare marriages and weddings on Easter Day. But the sorrowful disciples of Jesus, who are in penitance and in doubt, for that reason are not able to run after whores on Easter Day. Or had Thomas gone to Nicodemus to consider where the body of Jesus had been taken? Even that is not believable, that Thomas was able to go to a meek lord of the world, but some natural trip was before him, when he was not with the other disciples in the meetings of the Christians. I think that Thomas was traveling alone then, for he truly was in great doubt, but he was such a spiritual ox who wants to travel all alone, and to seek the way to the kingdom of heaven alone. Such a person does not stay in the company of the disciples, nor does he again stay in the crowd of the world, but he sometimes comes to the Christians meetings, and if the other disciples speak something to him of Christ's resurrection, then he says immediately: "Except I shall see in His hands the prints of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
You are unfortunate, Thomas, you poor thing! since you do not believe at all that the other disciples have seen the Lord. You do not believe them to be Christians, you do not believe that the other disciples have a spark of living faith, you do not believe that the other disciples now have joy in their hearts over Christ's resurrection, although you have nothing else but doubt, sorrow and unbelief. Woe, woe, you wretched Thomas! You are so unfortunate with that unbelief, and if Jesus did not have such great love toward you that He wants to draw even you up from that wretched state of unbelief, than you would soon go to hell with your unbelief. You would soon go to follow Judas' footsteps. And if you knew, Thomas wretch, how much you vex Jesus with your unbelief, then you would immediately go into the corner to be ashamed.
But now Thomas says, "I know that Jesus has truly died, but I cannot believe that he is truly resurrected, no matter who would tell it to me," But do you know, Thomas, what great anguish Jesus has over you because of your unbelief? Since you cannot or do not want to believe what the other disciples testify of Jesus' resurrection, then your pitiful condition of soul comes as great anguish to Jesus. You trouble Jesus so much with your unbelief that you cause Him to be sorrowful. Such great sorrow has already come to Him over that unfortunate Judas, who through deceit left that small flock, and in that way one unfortunate lost sheep went into the woods of sin, and became meat to all the beasts. He had to receive sorrow also from Thomas, who also has come into sorrow, and nevertheless loves Him and would want to believe, but nevertheless does not believe for self righteousness has risen to the head and preaches there in the intellect that Jesus has not been resurrected, and "Except I shall see in His hands the prints of the nails and put my finger into the prints of the nails, I will not believe."
And for what reason do you not believe, Thomas, that Jesus is arisen? Yes, for that reason you are so unbelieving, that you have an intellect in your skull which is too large. Selfrighteousness and egotism rose to the head and you now believe what selfrighteousness preaches in the intellect, but you do not believe what the Bible testifies; you do not believe what the other disciples testify. Do you believe that the other disciples have seen the Lord? You probably do not even believe that. Or do you have such a feeling that you are not worthy to see? Don't worry. You are truly not worthy to see, but you must see nevertheless that you will finally believe, for otherwise you will go to hell with your unbelief. And if you knew, Thomas, how much you vex Jesus with your unbelief, you would immediately go into a corner to be ashamed.
But since you have vowed, Thomas, that you will not believe before you put your finger into the print of the nails, then try now, Thomas, to see how bold you are to thrust, when Jesus comes and commands you to thrust. Who knows if you will even dare to thrust although you have vowed to. Who knows if you have such clean fingers that you would dare to begin to feel the Saviour's wounds with those fingers. Take heed, Thomas, of how clean your fingers are before you go to feel the wounds of Jesus. You must remember, Thomas, before you go to feel the wounds of Jesus with your fingers, you must remember that with those fingers you have formerly sometimes mixed the old leaven, and sometimes dug devil's dung, and who knows, you have even dug whores' butts, and now you have intended to begin to feel the wounds of Jesus with those fingers. Who knows, Thomas, do you dare to put your fingers into the prints of the nails? I think, Thomas, that you must go into the corner to be ashamed when the Lord Jesus, Himself, that crucified One, shows His wounds to you and asks you to feel them. Why did you not feel them now, Thomas? Be not unbelieving but believing; who knows how many times the Crucified Lord Jesus will show you His wounds before He will ascend into heaven, and you remain on the earth to long and to cry out, "Jesus, thou Son of David." Does He hear your sighs any more in heaven, when He is so far away from you. Does He hear the cry of the penitent and doubting ones any more, since He has gone to heaven and has already here shown His wounds to the doubting souls, and they have not believed.
How many times has the Crucified One shown His wounds to those wretches who, because of unbelief, sit in the cave of darkness and sigh? How many times has He reproved the prisoners of unbelief, who have not believed that He has arisen? But those wretches always vex that heavenly Parent, they always cause Jesus to be sorrowful, they always shut themselves out of the kingdom of heaven. They always want to make liars of the disciples of Jesus. They always allow the blood of the Lamb of God to flow to the ground in vain. Who knows how many more drops will fall from the wounds of Jesus any more. Who knows if the last drops are already dropping upon the sinful earth from the wounds of Jesus. From where then will the doubting ones receive cleansing when all the blood of the Lamb of God is gone? The sorrowful disciples of Jesus are slow to crawl to the foot of the cross. The sorrowful disciples of Jesus are fools and slow of heart to believe all that which the prophets have written of Him. They are slow to believe what Jesus has already earlier testified of Himself. Who knows how many times that merciful Lord Jesus will show you His wounds any more, you doubting souls. He has showed His wounds already many times to the world and said, "Behold, you hardened ones what kind of wounds I have received because of you." But the world only laughs and says, "Certainly not because of us have you received those wounds; no doubt you have hurt yourself." Now He still shows His wounds to the sorrowful, penitent and doubting ones, and those who are despised by the world, but not even those wretches can believe that Jesus has received those wounds because of them. And even if they did believe that Jesus has received those deadly wounds because of them, they cannot believe that He has risen from the dead; especially Thomas, who wants to make all the other disciples liars. Is it not a great sin and a shame, Thomas, that you want to make the other disciples liars, who have testified and said, "We have seen the Lord." Why have you not believed those testimonies? Put your finger now into the prints of the nails, if you do not want to believe otherwise. Put out your hand and thrust it into His side, or go into the corner to be ashamed. But you did not dare to thrust it; did you not have to begin to believe without thrusting. So we think that you have to believe against your will, against your intellect, against your nature, and against your feelings. You must believe against your former words, and now you must go into the corner to be ashamed because of your unbelief and say, "My Lord and my God," "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." Amen.