Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jesus in the John 20:19-31

19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors 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 side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
Jesus Appears to Thomas 24Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "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."
26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
28Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may[a] believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:19-31 NIV

Jesus is resurrected already, showed himself to women, and now we have two other appearances of Jesus. Was there a need for these two appearances to further verify and to have more witnesses? Was it to make sure for the disciples that he really had forgiven them?

Brian Stoffregen at Cross Marks Christian Resources says; "The purpose of this resurrection appearance is not so much to prove the resurrection as it is to send the disciples as Jesus had been sent. Easter is not just coming to a wonderful, inspiring worship service, it is being sent back into the (hostile) world, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to bear witness to the identity of God as revealed in Jesus." Whatever the reason, the scripture doesn't really say. But appear, Jesus does. It does seem that important that Jesus first words to the disciples is, "Peace be with you". Yes, it is a common greeting, but is this not the peace that Jesus promised them in John 14:27. And it does seem that it is imortant that Jesus appeared to the disciples behind closed doors. The doors did not stop him, or keep him out. In their hiding, they were found by Jesus. He intended to find them, to come and be with them.

And what does he do, but show them his hands, and side. He was intuitive to their need to be able to see. And he certainly was no ghost. Once again he tells them Peace to you and I am sending you, just as my father sent me. And then he breathes on them the Holy Spirit! Here is a little Pentecost or perhaps the beginning of Pentecost. In my book it does make them a new and different community of faith. And with the breath of the Holy Spirt, he empowers them to forgive and at the same time to retain the sins of any, they are retained. Can you believe it that he has left in the hands of these disciples the beginning of the church, the mission of the Kingdom of God, the spreading of the gospel around the world? Well can you believe he has left it into our hands to do this? Can you believe that he has even breathed his Holy Spirit into us to be able to do this mission? Jesus is echoing back to that creation story – giving the gift of breath, spirit, wind to his followers. “Ruach” in Hebrew and “pneuma” in Greek, the languages used in those writings, mean all three. Wow a new beginning for these disciples and for us. Isn't interesting this power they are given to forgive and at the same time they too had been forgiven. And what about us, we too have been given the power to forgive and we too have been forgiven. Eugene Patterson translates it this way in the message: "If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?"

Have we gone in hiding ourselves?
Are we living in fear?
Have we recieved the peace of Jesus?
How does seeing the hands and side of Jesus effect us?
How have we responded to the breath of the Holy Spirit?
And how have we dealt with the power to forgive that has been given us?

I know I have hidden behind closed doors in my life. And I have been afraid too. I hope I have not stayed behind those closed doors, and hope I haven't continued to live in fear. I believe that Jesus' peace, presence and breath of the Holy Spirit has set me free and has empowered me to forgive in ways I never knew possible.


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