Posted on Sun, Apr 27, 2014
April 27, 2014
Second Sunday in Easter
Gospel Text: John 20:19-31 - “CHRIST is with you; PEACE is with you!”
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
Jesus and Thomas
24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28 Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
The Purpose of This Book
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
I really think Thomas gets a bum-rap when he has been labeled as “Doubting Thomas” throughout history. As far as I can tell, he is the most “human” of the group. Notice the timing of the text, on the morning of the day Jesus rose from the dead, appeared to the women, and they believed. In today’s text, on the same day, in the late afternoon, he appears to all of the disciples while they were hiding in a locked room. For some reason, maybe he went to Starbucks, but Thomas was not with them. John tells us that whenever Jesus appeared to the women and then the disciples, they were all definitely in a state of fear or extreme sadness; but when the resurrected Jesus greets them for the first time he always says, “Peace be with you.” The reason he says this is because he us stating a fact, that the Peace of God, which IS Jesus, is standing before their amazed AND FEARFULL eyes.
Because the room was still locked late in the afternoon, AFTER THE WOMEN had told they had witnessed Jesus alive, AND Peter has even run to the tomb to find it empty and has returned to the locked room, it appears they men still did not believe that Jesus ALIVE!
I notice that there is no comment about the women being present in the room or not at this time; But then, finally, Jesus appears INSIDE the room that is locked, and says to the men, ‘Peace be with you.’ After they witness a risen Christ with their own eyes, they rejoice. And then, there seems to be a description of an early Pentecost. John records Jesus saying, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” In John’s Gospel, Pentecost comes as soon as Jesus appears to the disciples, for Luke and the book of Acts, the disciples will receive of the Holy Spirit a different time.
But what about this Thomas and his reputation as being a “doubter?” As far as I can tell, the disciples are no different than Thomas. Until Jesus took the initiative and appeared before them, IN THE ROOM THEY LOCKED, they too needed to ‘see’ a resurrected Jesus before they would believe. They only had the advantage of seeing Jesus when Thomas wasn't present. The women told them that Jesus was alive but they didn't believe. Peter saw the tomb empty, but either he was too afraid to tell them what he saw, or they didn't believe him either. It took a week of waiting before Thomas would be satisfied, but on the following seventh day after the resurrection, Jesus appeared before our very human, “Doubting Thomas,” and used that familiar greeting, “‘Peace be with you.’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side.”
How often have you heard the statement, “seeing IS believing?” When I read this text, I see God forcing humanity to really think about the core issue we “hope for.” We are forced to consider a hope that will only be satisfied through faith. Paul says in Hebrews:
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
After all the disciples witnessed and were taught by Jesus all along that long route around Galilee, southern Lebanon, and down through Samaria, what were the disciples supposed to “hope for” when they arrived in Jerusalem. By reading the complete story it is clear that the disciples, mere humans they may be, but JESUS’ DISCIPLES WITH ALL THE INSIDE TEACHING we only hear a small part of, still didn't understand the core issues that plagues the human heart. Who or What is God? IS THIS JESUS, REALLY GOD? If Jesus is God, what is this Jesus/God really able to do? … for me? Does God even care or know that I exist? Sound familiar?
Even after all they had been taught and seen, they still could not “see” Jesus as their Messiah, the Savior of the World. They couldn't see, even though they were told, that through the cross, there would be resurrection and therefore God’s victory over death, and hell (our separation from God).
Maybe I should give the disciples a break. After seeing someone alive after you have known that they had passed is not something anyone I know, would be expected to believe, expect or even hope for; And I am not just thinking about life and death miracles… How many of us, after hearing SECOND HAND that there was a “tsunami warning,” think to ourselves, “I won’t believe, or act on the rumor, until I hear it for myself?” it is human nature, human yet without faith nature.
And then we have all these programs looking for proof of Jesus, or God’s existence… We see these programs all the time, even on the History Channel. “Is it really Jesus’ face on the Shroud of Turin?” Recently, they were teasing the viewer that the face on the Shroud of Turin it could be the face of Leonardo DeVinci! It could be the face of my dog Brewski, but that whould have no bearing on whether we believe in a crucified and risen Christ!
If you are looking for, and demanding, that you need proof that God exists then you are only searching for meaningless idols, not a living God.
But we still look for proof of God’s existence, or at least seeing Jesus face in the shapes on our toast, the bark of a tree, or on a Doritos’s chip… The issue is, no one today has seen Jesus’ resurrected face, yet we still and do come to faith without seeing Jesus’ face, touching His scars or putting our hands into his side. How does someone come to faith, if they can’t SEE Jesus?
The scripture says we are “Created in God’s image.” This becomes true especially when we do acts of justice and mercy; this becomes true when we speak words of kindness and forgiveness; It becomes true to when we teach our children the acts of Jesus. This becomes true when we feed the hungry, visit the sick or imprisoned, speak up about peace and injustice and give thanks in worship and praise. It is during these times, we as individuals, through faith, become the BODY OF CHRIST, and at that moment we see Jesus in the person of each member of our church!
We know that Jesus looked like an olive skinned, dark haired Palestinian man, but when we love as Jesus loved, forgive as Jesus forgave, speak up for the orphan, widow and stranger, then and only then, Jesus looks just like you, your neighbor and your church!!
This is how our church has meaning and real relavence in the world!
“Peace be with You!”
Now you say, “Peace be with you!”
I just saw Jesus!
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