The Grand Opening David L. Larsen January 1, 2005 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) Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.