John 20:19-31

A
very sensitive and troubled young woman whom life had dealt some very hard blows
– profound physi-cal and relational dysfunction – spent six days in
Yosemite Park in California. She needed to heal and get her footing.

One
day while hiking she spotted a little tuft of grass growing out of the broad
surface of a huge rock ledge. This was like an epiphany to her – a miracle
in which God spoke! Out of the hard, barren, sterile soil of her life, God can
bring life out of death!

The
resurrection of our Lord is an even more decisive and dynamic disclosure of
what God can do. It is God’s grand opening of hope and life and joy and
peace!

I.
Jesus Christ Comes to Meet His Own (19-23)

The
episodic appearances of Jesus during the forty days are transitional, preparing
His disciples for their life ahead without the cons-tant physical presence of
our Lord.

Easter
Sunday has been a great day but emotionally very taxing. Jesus has appeared
to Mary Magdalene (and to Peter?), but the disciples gather “with the doors
locked for fear of the Jews..” What a picture of our lives oftentimes and
the Church today.

Twice
Jesus greets His own with the traditional: Peace! Meeting them now for the first
time together since His passion, it is significant He does not say: shame on
you! Rather He speaks of the health, the soundness, the wholeness which are
the very essence of what the Gospel brings, (Acts 10:36.)

Then
He shares Proof. Christianity is not afraid of investigation. Jesus want us
to be sure. The disciples were overjoyed. Quickly He moves them to their Purpose.
In John’s version of the Great Commission, our Lord directs them to their
calling – “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”

But
their need for the endowment of Power is addressed as He breathes on them and
says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Is this a prophecy, a prayer or a
plea? Now they are ready to face into their Prerogative (think of the systems
of error built on these words on the forgiveness of sin). They must mean that
Christ’s own have the message of forgiveness and the privilege of assuring
those who truly pray for forgiveness that they are indeed absolved in accordance
with the promise of Scripture and the provision of Calvary.

II.
Jesus Christ Comes to Minister to One of His Own (24-31)

But
one of twelve was not present – absentee, drop-out? Jesus goes after the
one sheep who has strayed.

As
a melancholic, Thomas is in a deep blue funk. Remember his earlier roles in
John 11:16, 14:5. Like some, he retreated into his shell, into isolation. Here
he nurses his doubt and his depression.

The
following week he does gather with the others – who saw to it that Thomas
was present?

Jesus
came among them and again proclaimed, “Peace be with you!” How our
compassionate Savior personalizes and individualizes His marvelous grace and
mercy!

Jesus
enters immediately into the skepticism of Thomas, picking up the challenge on
the doubter’s own terms: “Put your finger here – put it into
my side – stop doubting and believe” (20:27).

Thomas
responds with a gusher of confession and praise: “My Lord and my God!”
Here is wonder, wisdom, worship! Then Christ gives His final beatitude: “Blessed
are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (20:29-31).

Jesus
wants us to believe and will meet us on our own ground. Like the man who testified,
“I believe, help my unbelief.” So He met John the Baptist’s doubts:
“Do we look for another?”

[This
would be a good opportunity to share some classical conversion story like that
of C.S. Lewis in Surprised by Joy. Or your own testimony of coming to faith
in Christ. Or possibly a live testimony to bring the thrust of the passage from
then to now.]

Come to the
Savior. make no delay
Here in His word He’s shown us the way
Here in our midst He’s standing today,
Tenderly saying, ‘Come.’
(George F. Root)

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About The Author

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David L. Larsen (B.A., Stanford University; M.Div., Fuller Theological Seminary; D.D., Trinity College) is Professor Emeritus of Preaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He pastored churches for thirty-two years and has taught at Trinity since 1981. He is the author of several books, including The Company of the Preachers, The Company of the Creative, The Anatomy of Preaching, and Biblical Spirituality.

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