Preaching to the Choir

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

Saturday, March 29, 2008

One last thought before Sunday, Easter 2

And now for the last part of the passage, John 20:24-31(CEV) and Jesus' interaction with Thomas.

24Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn't with the others when Jesus appeared to them. 25So they told him, "We have seen the Lord!"

But Thomas said, "First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won't believe unless I do this!"

26A week later the disciples were together again. This time, Thomas was with them. Jesus came in while the doors were still locked and stood in the middle of the group. He greeted his disciples 27and said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!"

28Thomas replied, "You are my Lord and my God!"

29Jesus said, "Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!"

30Jesus worked many other miracles [a] for his disciples, and not all of them are written in this book. 31But these are written so that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in [b] him, you will have true life.

Here we come to the appearance of Jesus to Thomas. He didn't have to do it did he, after all, Thomas just missed him the first time. Jesus could have said; " You just had to be there." " Too bad, You missed it." He could have not appeared at all and left Thomas in his loss and doubts. Instead he recognized that Thomas needed to see his wounds to touch his side. and so he made it possible for Thomas to do so.

Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Once again the doors were shut. Once again the Risen Christ miraculously appeared and stood in their presence. Once again, the Risen Christ greets the disciples with his offer of peace to them. And here they are behind locked doors, still afraid, still in hiding. And yet the locked doors does not keep Jesus out.

-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.’ Jesus was offering the evidences of his wounded hands and his side. He offers himself, his wounded hands, his wounded scars to us even today. He is forever scarred. Forever wounded, all for all of us.

Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Without touching Jesus’ hands and without touching the wound in his side, Thomas confesses the most profound yet simple confession of faith: “My Lord and my God.” This is what Christ is looking for from us: that we come to that time or place in our lives where we simply confess, “Jesus, you are my Lord and my God.” The confession is personal and says a whole lot about our relationship with Jesus.

-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.’ That is our situation today. We have not seen the way Thomas saw and experienced the Risen Christ. Jesus’ response to Thomas is not scolding, nor is he scolding to us. What another beatitude? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe. St. Augustine put it this way; " Late have I loved you, beauty so ancient and so fresh. Late have I loved you. Behold, you were within and I was outside, and I was seeking you there. I, deformed, was pursuing you in the beautifully formed things that you made. You were with me, but I was not with you. Those things held me far away from you, things that would not exist if they were not in you. You called and clamored and shattered my deafness; you flashed and gleamed and banished my blindness; you were fragrant and I drew in breath and now pant for you. I tasted and now I hunger and thirst for you; you touched me and I have been set ablaze with longing for your peace. "(St. Augustine, Confessions [10:38], translated by Scott MacDonald) Jesus knew then and knows now that some of us are going to come to this late and not right off the bat. And with Jesus it doesn't matter, he loves us!

So many of us are like Thomas we want a God with flesh on, its too hard to believe in a God in the sky kind of God. Jesus was God in the flesh. But that was many many years ago. Who is God in flesh today? Who is it that people can touch the wounds in the hands in the side? Who is it that carries the scars of the cross, the whippings, the scourging, the thorns on the brow for people to see, and say it is you? No we don't have the real live flesh in the blood Jesus. Instead the world has you and me to represent that Jesus to the world. And oh my aren't we scarred and wounded in some way? But we try to hide that and most of all we try to hide Jesus. We need to come out from behind the locked doors and show others Jesus and show others our true selves our scars our wounds.


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