Resurrection and the life

Acts 2:14a, 22-32
Psalm 16
John 20:19-31

Reverend Dr. Stephen R. Caine

 

20:19 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, 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 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.” 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. (John 20:19-31, NRSV)

 

Let us pray: Living God, long ago, faithful women proclaimed the good news

of Jesus’ resurrection, and the world was changed forever. Teach us to keep faith with them, that our witness may be as bold, our love as deep, and our faith as true. Amen.

 

Here we are seven days out from Easter, but it seems much longer than that.  Seven days, since we were last here, with beautiful music, Easter lilies, the glory of a beautiful day, complete with a risen Lord and Savior!  They call this Sunday, “Low Sunday.”  I am not sure of the origins of that term, it could be the low attendance, it could be the low offering, it could even be the low emotion and truncated excitement level, all very normal after a huge celebration just seven days ago.

 

As the days have passed and time has gone by the glory of Easter seems to have worn off.  So, it is fitting that we read about Thomas and his desire to see, to touch and to feel the Lord’s scars before he believes.

 

The disciples have been told by several people that they have seen the Risen Christ and that his tomb is empty. The two Marys gave an eye witness report of seeing Jesus.   But the disciples are still afraid and they have locked themselves in a room out of fear.  It is significant, because even with the reports of good news doesn’t necessarily take away our fear.[1]

 

We Christians tend to be cautious folk.  We aren’t sure we want to witness to Christ in a world populated by multiculturalism, political correctness, and religious hypocrisy.  Maybe it would inspire us to be bold in our witness if we actually saw the risen Jesus miraculously pass through our locked doors.  But sadly, we don’t and that is why we are more like Thomas than we would like to admit!

 

Thomas, has been given the nickname “Doubting Thomas.” It is, however, a misnomer.  The word John uses here “doubt” does not mean lack of faith instead it connotates “unbelieving” (apistos) which may not seem like a dramatic difference except it is.   John uses the word believe as a verb, not a noun.  Believing for John is a statement of abiding in Jesus.  For John, to believe in Jesus is not a Creedal Statement that one must agree to.   No instead, it is as if he is saying, “I abide in you and you abide in me.”  It is about the relationship not certainty.[2]

 

Which is fitting that today, we baptize Brock Berghausen, the infant son of Fritz and Chelsea Berghausen. We recognize that relationship that God has with Brock, as God is with each of us.  We affirm our commitment to raise Brock in the faith so that as he matures and grows his relationship with God will shape the rest of his life.

 

Ultimately isn’t that what we all want. We come here to worship week after week, longing to see Jesus, hoping to find some sense of meaning, wanting to know that our faith matters.

 

Just like Thomas, we too may be realists, who come to worship each week seeking Christ.  To see, to touch and to know the Risen Christ.

 

May we go out in the world with those same eyes, looking for Christ…because frankly if that was all we had in a relationship ended at death it would be hard to come back to worship after Easter.  It would be hard to keep going after the death of a loved one.  But, somehow, someway, we survive the Good Fridays and the silent Saturdays to emerge on the Easters and then keep on walking in the hope of the Resurrection.

 

As Christians, Easter people, we are not left only with the past, with memories.  As Easter people, we have a future.  Because we believe, we see.  We know there is joy after sorrow, spring after winter and there is life after death.

 

Thomas is a Realist, he wants to see, touch and feel for himself before he believes.  So, when Thomas and Christ meet, there is a moment of profound intimacy. Thomas touches Christ’s wounds, and he pronounces the truth: My Lord and my God.  And that, my friends, is the reason for all our alleluias! Christ is Risen, he is Risen indeed! ALLELUIA! Amen!

 

Let us Pray:

[1] Reverend Dr. David Lose, Commentary on John 20:19-31

[2] Reverend Dr. Karoline Lewis www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=946