Easter Reflection 2
Sunday 19th April - Second Sunday of Easter
John 20:19-31 CEV
The disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders, and on the evening of that same Sunday they locked themselves in a room. Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the middle of the group. He greeted them and showed them his hands and his side.
When the disciples saw the Lord, they became very happy.
After Jesus had greeted them again, he said,
“I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me.”
Then he breathed on them and said,
“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they will be forgiven.
But if you don’t forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven.”
Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn’t with the others when Jesus appeared to them. So 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!”
A 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 and said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side.
Stop doubting and have faith!”
28 Thomas replied,
“You are my Lord and my God!”
“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!”
Jesus worked many other miracles for his disciples, and not all of them are written in this book.
But 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 him, you will have true life.
1 Peter 1:3-9 CEV
Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on.
God has something stored up for you in heaven, where it will never decay or be ruined or disappear. You have faith in God, whose power will protect you until the last day.
Then he will save you, just as he has always planned to do. On that day you will be glad, even if you have to go through many hard trials for a while. Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. They will show that you will be given praise and honour and glory
when Jesus Christ returns.
You have never seen Jesus, and you don’t see him now. But still you love him and have faith in him, and no words can tell how glad and happy you are to be saved.
That’s why you have faith.’
We maybe have a sense this year of how the disciples felt in the upper room.
They are hiding away from those who wished them harm and were unwilling to venture out, in case they are spotted and taken prisoner.
They were afraid, lost and sad.
How confused they must have been because Jesus had seemed the answer to their prayers.
He was someone who helped people, who challenged the leaders and spoke about God in ways they had never heard before. They had followed him, leaving behind their jobs, eager to see what he was going to do. And now he was gone and they were disappointed and empty.
In the first few verses of the passage John paints a picture of the disciples as downcast with their focus on a Christ who had now gone and his story over. Then we see the difference it makes to them when they see him standing before them, and witness the marks of the nails, and the place where the sword had pierced his side.
This was the beginning of the Church, before Pentecost.
The disciples had to believe in the resurrection first to be able to go on to be equipped with the Holy Spirit to spread the Word. This was the point when they stopped looking down in fear and sorrow and looked up into the face of the risen Lord. They had to acknowledge that he had risen to be able to be faithful witnesses.
Verse 20 shows the difference in their outlook, they were happy and began to see Jesus for who he really was, and recognised him as the Son of God.
What of Thomas? He had missed the appearance of Jesus in their midst, he had not seen the marks on his body that spoke of the crucifixion and the miracle of the resurrection.
He wasn’t there! He refused to believe, even though he was told by the others.
For a whole week the others must have tried to persuade him, but he insists he needs to see it for himself. And so it happens, Jesus appears in the room and shows Thomas that he is alive and tells Thomas that he must stop his doubting and have faith.
It is this emphasis on having faith that Peter talks of in his letter to the early Christians. These were mostly second generation believers, who had never met Jesus and their faith was built on hearing the Word. Peter reminds them of the power and truth of the resurrection, and that Jesus has given them new life and a hope that lives on. He reminds them that although they may never have seen Jesus, they still love him and have faith in him.
This is the message for us too, in whatever situation we find ourselves in.
God’s power will protect us through our lives. God has something stored up for us in heaven, where it will never decay, or be ruined or disappear.
So, let our faith sustain us for the future,
and in our time of ‘lockdown’ may we not be downcast but lift our eyes to our risen Lord
and draw our hope and strength from him.