Posted on Sun, Apr 7, 2013
John 20: 19–31
April 7, 2013
Second Sunday in Easter
Gospel Text: John 20: 19–31 “Just Being Honest!”
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.’ 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If 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. 25So 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.’ 27Then 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.’ 28Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29Jesus 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. 31But 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.
Can you recall the times in your life when you were most afraid or alone? A time when you felt you were totally at the end of your rope? Despondent? Maybe even like a cornered rabbit, with no escape, only a gaping mouth daring you to try to escape only to be devoured…
This is how the disciples felt on the morning of today’s Gospel text. Only John and the women stood at the foot of the cross to witness Jesus utter the words, “Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” … And … “It is finished.” But they all knew what happens at crucifixions, and all they could think of was, “if the religious leaders could convince the Romans to crucify Jesus, surely they are looking for us right now, in order to for us to be given the same fate.” If they get the leader, surely they will come after Jesus’ close band of ‘disciples.’
They were afraid for their lives! I can only imagine how they must have jumped when the women returned from the empty tomb and knocked on the door with energetic urgency.
It is very clear that they didn't believe the women, because John clearly states that they were “hiding in fear.”
Then, without the need to open a door, John just says that, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’
The room is filled with deafening silence… what could they say? They women told them that the tomb was empty and Mary made it clear that she had, ‘seen the Lord!’ But it didn't appear that they believed Mary. Why would she lie to them? Why would she try to trick them? They could see it in her face that she was telling them the Truth, but according to human logic and reasoning, what she was proclaiming to them, could not possibly be true.
They know what happens when a person is crucified! They saw him scourged, they saw the blood, and how could anyone be alive after such torture? EVEN IF HE DID PROMISE THEM, EVEN IF HE DID PROPHESY TO THEM, THAT HE WOULD BE RAISED ON THE THIRD DAY?
But then, in that locked room, where they hid like frightened rats, Jesus appeared and was standing amongst them… and he simply greets them by saying, “Peace be with you.”
But his statement, “Peace be with you,” is more than a greeting, Jesus is just stating the Truth. He is telling them the meaning of him standing in their midst… even if their heads are only filled with the feeling of disbelief. The grammar in English is awkward, but in the Greek he is saying something that means more like, “I am your Peace, and I am with, beside, over, under, inside YOU.”
They are hiding in fear, therefore, what do they need more than anything? They want freedom from the grip of fear and doubt; they want peace, hope, and a reconnection with the Lord and Messiah.
Then, in order for them TO BE ABLE TO BELIEVE, Jesus breathed on them (RUAH!) the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, and then they had the power to believe in the resurrection of Jesus.
In order to Re-Create them as disciples FULL OF FAITH, Jesus breathed on them in the same way God created everything with the wind of God. The Ruah of God. Ruah means the spirit or breath of God.
We need to understand the power of the Holy Spirit and what is going on here. The disciples are all trapped by the power of fear and doubt, but Jesus has been raised from the dead, yet EVEN THOUGH JESUS IS STANDING AMONGST THEM they are still trapped by fear and doubt. But when Jesus ‘breathes’ on them, they are ‘Re-Created’ with the gift of faith, empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We need to understand the power, role and purpose of the Holy Spirit. As human beings we cannot even utter the holy name of Jesus, without the power of the Holy Spirit breathed on us by the Holy Spirit, ONLY after Jesus has been raised from the dead.
That means whenever we pray, sing, teach or proclaim, we are witnessing the working of the Holy Spirit before our eyes. When you pray, it is only through the gift of the Holy Spirit that first gives you the power to believe, and then the faith to talk directly to your Savior and Lord. That is why we are never to take the name of our Lord in vain; Just being able to utter the name of Jesus came at the cost of suffering and dying on the cross.
And poor Thomas… Thomas represents honesty and the fact that he is a human being. ‘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.’ After everything they have gone through, who wouldn't sound like Thomas? I’m surprised he doesn't sound more cynical. Hats off to Thomas!
Unless I see the goods, hold them in my hands, feel its weight, kick a few tires, check under the hood, you haven’t sold me on anything!
He wasn’t a doubter, he was human… and as a human, still separated from God because he is still held in the power of doubt and fear, and he has not yet received the Holy Spirit, he simply represents the Human Condition.
But I like how Jesus responds exactly to Thomas’s needs. A week later, when Thomas was among them, Jesus appears before Thomas and simply says, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’
Jesus had big plans for Thomas. Tradition says that at the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost Thomas was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, and Persians; he ultimately reached India, carrying the Faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves "Christians of St. Thomas."
The disciples were all afraid and trapped by the power of fear and doubt, but Jesus recognized their condition. Jesus understands all of our feelings, whether we are feeling full of faith, or empty and afraid. Jesus not only understands our feelings good or bad, but also responds exactly the right way and at the right time.
Do not be afraid, for when we are afraid, weak, lost or even doubtful, Jesus comes to us and says, “Peace be with You.”
Sing: “Jesus Love Me.” When we are weak, He is strong…
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