John 20: 19-31
19 That evening, on the first day of the week, the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! "Peace be with you," he said. 20 As he spoke, he held out his hands for them to see, and he showed them his side. They were filled with joy when they saw their Lord! 21 He spoke to them again and said, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
Jesus Appears to Thomas
22 Then he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are unforgiven."
24 One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he replied, "I won't believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side."
26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. He said, "Peace be with you." 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don't be faithless any longer. Believe!"
28 "My Lord and my God!" Thomas exclaimed.
28 Then Jesus told him, "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven't seen me and believe anyway."
Purpose of the Book
30 Jesus' disciples saw him do many other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life. (1)
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to You, O Christ.
In this mornings Gospel reading we find the disciples afraid of the Jewish leaders and hiding behind locked doors. They had thought that Jesus was the promised Messiah and that He had come to lead them here on earth. They did not understand that the kingdom Jesus had talked about was not an earthly kingdom but a heavenly kingdom.
The Jewish leaders had Jesus put on a cross to die. They thought this would end all of the talk, signs and miracles that had been going on. The disciples' thought that the Jewish leaders would have them killed as well, so they were hiding behind the locked doors trying to figure out what they should do next when "Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! 'Peace be with you,' he said" They couldn't believe their eyes. The man they thought was dead was standing there before them, very much alive. He even showed them the scars in his side and hands, to prove it.
Then Jesus said "Peace be with you!" again to them and breathed on them giving them the gift of the Holy Spirit. He then told them to go out and spread the Good News to all people.
In the lesson from Acts we see Peter, the one who denied Christ three times before the rooster crowed, is out preaching the Good News that Christ is alive. He is telling the people that the resurrection wasn't just a one-day thing, that Christ had risen from the dead taking away everyone's sins and defeating the devil. This is as true for Peter and those who were listening to him as it is for us today.
Christ appeared to the disciples many times before He ascended to heaven. Preparing them to go out and preach His Good News to all people. He gave them the courage and the understanding they needed to share His story with all of the people. The second time Jesus came to them, Thomas was with them. He hadn't been with the disciples the first time Jesus came. Thomas didn't believe the disciples that Jesus was really alive. So to give Thomas what he needed Jesus came to him and told him to touch His side and the wounds in His hands. Thomas had told the disciples that he needed proof that Jesus was alive and needed to touch Him. Thomas got the proof he needed, and Christ will give each of us the proof we need to believe in Him.
Have you ever felt that peace that passes understanding? Have you ever felt guided when making a decision? Have you seen things happen in a way that you just can't explain? This is when we can see the risen Christ in action. Just as He was present to the disciples that long ago night as they were hiding in a room, He will be present for each of us and give us what we need to believe.
He is with us in our ups and downs and ready to help us in all we do. This story I received in an email is a good example of how Christ is with us.
Quilt of Holes
As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls. Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.
But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in every day life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.
I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened. My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.
Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose; each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise.
My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and wealth, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.
And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was. I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes. Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, 'Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.'
May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through! God determines who walks into your life; it's up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go.
When there is nothing left but God that is when you find out that God is all you need.
The cross on Good Friday looked like it was an ending. But the resurrection on Easter Sunday is just the beginning. That beginning wasn't just 2,000 years ago, it is a new beginning for each of us every time we turn to Jesus and let His light shine through us.
©Jann Martin 2008