Seven Days Makes One Weak; God Gives an Eighth

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

The three-year-old in our Sunday School has already learned this important teaching of the faith: God created the world, everything in the visible and invisible universe, in six days; and then He rested on the seventh. In a perfect world only seven days were necessary. Six days to work and the seventh to rest. For in six days did God create the world and on the seventh He rested. Seven is the number of completeness. No more days were required in that good place where Creator and His creation were in perfect fellowship, communion, and harmony.

But as you are well aware, from both your life and from the Holy Scriptures, we don’t live in a perfect world. The good creation has been corrupted by sin which brought death with it. The seven days of the week—Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday—the days in which we are created, born, live, work, play, rest, and die are not enough. You and I needed another day added—an eighth day, a day in which we may be re-created, born again, born from above, and live eternally. So God, in His mercy, grace, kindness, and love, has given us exactly what we need to have—an eighth day.

Our sermon text is John 20:26-28. Please listen to that portion of Scripture once again under the theme of “Seven Days Makes One Weak; God Gives an Eighth…”

“Eight days later, His disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”

This is the Word of the Lord.

Let’s begin by saying that Thomas gets singled out and kind of picked on. History calls him “Doubting Thomas.” Actually, he was, at the time, “Unbelieving Thomas”; but he was really no different from any of the other disciples. St. Luke tells is that on Easter morning Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the women, “and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest… but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them” (24:9-11). Not one of the men, Thomas included, believed the women’s words. They seemed like fairy tales.

That night, however, the risen Savior appeared to His doubting disciples. They were in a locked room so that nobody could get in; and suddenly, Jesus was there in their midst. He declared peace to them and showed them His hands and His side. He breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit, and declared that they would preach His Word to forgive and retain sins. The disciples knew that Jesus is risen—body and all. They’d been in His presence. They’d seen Him and heard Him. And they were glad.

Unfortunately for Thomas, for one reason or another, he wasn’t there at the time. When the other disciples told him what happened, he was skeptical. “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it.”

And so, on that Easter Sunday, the first day of the week, Thomas was without faith in the risen Lord. And for seven days, from Sunday through Saturday, he walked the face of this earth in unbelief. He was, however, no different from humanity as a whole, or from you or me or any other individual. In our fallen world, unbelief is the sinner’s fallback position. It is the state in which we are conceived and born and live until the Holy Spirit gives us faith through the Word of God, until the Lord blesses us with an eighth day.

 Seven days makes one weak; God gives an eighth.

There is something very special about the eighth day.

In Genesis we read of the unbelief that filled the earth and only eight people were spared. The Lord told Noah that after seven days the judgment of God in the form of flooding rains would descend from the heavens and cover the earth. The eighth day was the day of salvation and only those on the ark saw it and were delivered from the floods of the deep. After the flood waters receded and after a dove returned to the ark with a freshly plucked olive leaf, Noah waited another seven days, and sent forth another dove. When the bird did not return, it was safe for the eight to leave the ark on the eighth day (Genesis 8:10-11).

At its dedication, the Glory of the Lord filled the temple and on the eighth day the people of Israel held a solemn assembly (2 Chronicles 7:9). Hundreds of years later, the children of Israel returned from Babylonian captivity. And day by day, from the first day to the last day, [Ezra] read from the book of the law of God. They kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the ordinance (Nehemiah 8:18).

And on the eighth day since His birth the Christ child began the atoning work as the sin-bearer. He observed the Old Testament Law, taking humanity’s place under the Law and shedding His first blood. He was circumcised and received the name announced by the angel; the name of Jesus. Three decades later, His life-giving blood flowed freely and completely as He died on the cross.

Having spent His Sabbath rest in the tomb, Jesus rose again from the dead and entered the eighth day—the eternal day. Luther writes: “For Christ rested in the sepulcher on the Sabbath, that is, during the entire seventh day, but rose again on the day which follows the Sabbath, which is the eighth day and the beginning of a new week, and after it no other day is counted. For through His death Christ has brought to a close the weeks of time and on the eighth day entered into a different kind of life, in which days are no longer counted but there is one eternal day” (Luther's Works, Vol. 3: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 15-20. p.141).

Christ is risen! He is no longer subject to time or space. And so, a solemn assembly convened on the first Easter evening, on Jesus’ eighth day. His Word to them on His eighth day is one of Good News, “Peace be with you!” In other words, “May the peace which I won for the world in My death on the cross be yours.”

Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” The gracious Lord Jesus granted an eighth day visit to Thomas. For seven days Thomas lived a faithless life. But seven days offers no hope in this dying world. An eighth day re-creation is essential for life with God. Seven days simply makes one weak; weak to the point of dying. God gives an eighth day; God gives life. If properly understood, we might say that Christians are Eighth Day Adventists. For those who stop at and only count on the seventh day, they miss the eighth day that never ends. They become like the Pharisees who tried to please God and be acceptable in His sight by their attempts to keep the Law.

Salvation is the ark on the eighth day after seven days of flooding rains in Noah’s day, the exit from the ark on the eighth day after the dove’s return with the olive branch, the sacramental circumcision of the Old Testament on the eighth day, and the naming of a child on the eighth day—all these relate to the Resurrection and Baptism. For this is where God grants each of His children their eighth day. God drowned sin in the same waters that He preserved His people in the ark. Just as Noah and his family entered a new creation when they left the ark so do you enter the new creation through the water and Word of Holy Baptism.

The Scriptures declare that “in [Christ] also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:11-12).      

St. Paul proclaims that “we were buried therefore with Him by Baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Romans 6:4-5). The Resurrection like Christ’s will be one in which we are no longer subjects to days or weeks. We will no longer be plagued by the old sinful nature and the sin which clings so closely.

The number eight has been associated with Baptism from the earliest days of the Church. To this day, many baptismal fonts, including ours here at St. John’s, are constructed with eight sides. “Our Christian ancestors knew what they were doing. For eight is the number of the new creation. And by Baptism we are newly created to live in the risen life of Christ” (Senkbeil).

Dear people of the Lord Jesus Christ, you and I have been privileged to behold this divine drama unfolding once more on this eighth day after the resurrection of our Lord. Another human being has been ushered out of eternal death and brought into the life of the eternal eighth day. Gunnar Allen Pickard, as he continues to live in the seven days of this world’s week, now also lives in the promise of the eighth day. We have also publicly recognized the Baptism of Madyn Logyn Bucher and Briyr Katelyn Bucher. Baptism is theirs and yours and my personal eighth day. It is our new creation as sons and daughters of the risen King.

Seven days makes one weak; God gives an eighth.

For those who continue to live in their baptismal grace, there is the blessed knowledge that they live in the eighth day. So, when the day within and of this creation comes when we fall asleep in Christ and our eyes close for the last time in this world—whether it be the first day of the week or on the seventh day of the week or any one of the in days between—we are already living in and will continually live in the eighth day.

Do you not remember that it was on a Friday when a certain sinner was brought to faith in Jesus the King of the universe and said law-breaker entered his personal eighth day, hearing his Redeemer announce, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43)?

The disciple whom Jesus loved described this place where the eighth day never ends: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’…

“These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:9-17).

What is your reaction to this wonderful gift given to you from God? Perhaps you feel you don’t deserve it. You are right, of course. But remember, your personal eighth day is a gift earned for you and given to you. Perhaps you feel that your faithlessness and doubt disqualifies you. You hear Jesus speaking to Thomas and think of yourself: “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it on My side; do not be faithless, but believing.”

However, dear people, this does not have to be condemnation but commendation. This is Good News! Don’t you hear Jesus inviting you to believe? God’s grace is greater than your convicting conscience and He knows all things (1 John 3:20). Do you not hear the Lord’s Word? “Peace be with you!”

Now, what is your reaction to this wonderful gift of the eighth day given to you from God? Join with your brother named Thomas and confess Jesus as your Lord and your God! Teach Gunnar and Madyn and Briyr and all the other children to make this good confession. Pray God that you believe it with your mind, hold it in your heart, confess it with your mouth, and live it with your life. Go out on this eighth day, for as long as it may last, praising your God and telling others of the Good News of the risen Savior who brings true peace. He was crucified for your sins and raised for your justification. For His sake you have salvation and eternal life. You are living in the blessed endless eighth day. You are forgiven for all of your sins.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
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