Posted by on Apr 8, 2021 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Showing and Believing

Our gospel lesson for the 2nd Sunday of Easter is from John 20:19-31. This is a continuation of our lesson from Easter Sunday that revealed to us Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

In this reading, which is the evening of the resurrection, we see the disciples still hunkered down in the Upper Room out of fear of the crowds on the streets, which included the Jewish temple leaders as well as the Roman rulers.

Mary Magdalene, as well as John and Peter, had told the disciples what they had seen in the empty tomb and Mary had brought them the message Jesus wanted her to give to the disciples. John does not say how many disciples are there, but it can be assumed that all of the women who were following Jesus as well as the disciples were there.

These disciples had been in this room since before Jesus was arrested, beaten and crucified. They left the crowds and escaped to safety and the only one who had witnessed the crucifixion was John. Peter had run away when he heard the cock crow and remembered what Jesus had said about his denial of Jesus three times.

I am wondering what they all thought of what Mary had told them. Were they skeptical of what she saw and said Jesus had spoken to her? I would imagine they were. Then…suddenly Jesus appeared in the room through the closed, locked door. Jesus first words were, “Peace be with you.” This is a normal greeting but would have possibly been rather shocking to the disciples when they heard it.

Here, these people had been following Jesus for 3 years and were just now realizing what Jesus had been teaching them when they were meeting as a small group. He told them countless times he would suffer and die but would ascend to heaven. He states to Mary, “I am ascending to my Father and to your Father to My God and to your God.” Now…he is here with them.

Jesus showed them his hands and feet, to release some of the skepticism they had been experiencing. They rejoiced….as what they had seen was that the Resurrected Christ was also the Crucified Christ. Jesus then commissioned them to tell others what they had seen and breathed on them, giving then the authority to forgive other people that they would be teaching and ministering to.

The breathing on the disciples was symbolic of what they would experience when they were given the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Spirit could not come to the people until Jesus had risen and had left them. But what we DO see, if that Jesus is acknowledging in action that He is also the Spirit that would be following them in their work.

Just look at what we have seen in the past two weeks. We have seen Jesus give us his body and blood in the Lord’s Supper…what he did for all of us. Now, the disciples are receiving the symbolic gift of the breath and blessing of the Holy Spirit that would be given to them (sent to them) later.

Now, we come to an experience that occurred 8 days after this first appearance of Jesus. Jesus appears again to them, but this time, Thomas is with them. Thomas had been voicing the skepticism during these 8 days that the disciples had most possibly voice prior to Jesus’ appearance. He wanted to see what they had seen. He wanted to experience what they had experienced. We don’t know if Thomas was in the room when Mary came to them the morning the tomb was discovered to be empty. But I would assume that he, along with all the other disciples, were skeptical. Thomas was just open in his statements about wanting to see what the others had seen.

So, now, 8 days later, Jesus again appears to the disciples through the closed door. Again, he greeted the disciples with, “Peace be with you.” Thomas had been with the disciples when Lazarus was raised from the dead and had warned the other disciples (John 11:16) to not leave Jesus alone…but to accompany him, no matter what the danger was. Tradition tells us that Thomas brought the gospel message to the eastern people after Jesus’ ascension.

Jesus offered to have Thomas touch the wounds on his hands and feet, which was totally different from what Jesus told Mary. Thomas didn’t need to touch the wounds. His declaration of “My Lord and My God” was immediate and powerful enough that nothing else was needed. It was a GREAT confession. With this statement, Jesus commissioned Thomas, also. This commissioning was different…in that Jesus challenged Thomas (and us) to think about the fact whether his statement was made because he saw, but to think about those people he would teach that would not be able to see the actual wounds.

Now the disciples have been commissioned…as have we…when we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, when we have restated our baptismal vows, when we have followed him and not locked him out of our lives. I’m sure we can all agree that even if we have tried to lock Jesus out of our lives, he keeps knocking on our hearts to open up and accept the free gifts he gives to us.

So…what now? How do we show that we are a follower of Jesus? Do we show this through our words and our actions? Do we show this through doing good for other people? We show our story and our mission and service every day. What do other people see that shows faith is alive in God’s people…of which we are a member?

Through our words and our actions, we show the difference that following Jesus makes in our lives and how we live every single day. We have work to do in our community of faith. Jesus gives us the direction, the freedom and knowledge that he will never leave us or forsake us. It is in this way, we live out verse 31 of our gospel lesson when John said that this information was written “so that all may come to the knowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah” and that our mission from now on is that of evangelism…bringing the word others by showing who we follow that they may believe.


April 2021


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