Reflection for Sunday 11th April 2021
(Joanna Fisher - Liturgical Assistant)
Based on John chapter 20, verses 19-31 ( click to read here )
And one shall tell another….
One shall tell another
and he shall tell his friend
You may well know this worship song written by Graham Kendrick in 1981.
Its subtitle and chorus are about ‘The wine of the Kingdom’
and it invites you to come and taste it, the new wine,
the wine of healing and forgiveness, the wine of the Kingdom of God.
Please do download it and listen to it if you have the ‘technology’.
It’s a wonderful invitation, just one week after the resurrection of Jesus!
However, I’d like to focus on the first verse of the song – one shall tell another –
because this resonated with me when I read the Gospel reading for this Sunday.
In chapter 20, John tells us about the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection,
first to Mary Magdalene in the garden, then to the disciples, and then to Thomas.
Two appearances on the day after the resurrection, and a further one eight days later.
And each time Jesus appears, the people go through, what we call in psychology,
an information processing sequence. It’s a series of thoughts and emotions that we experience in order to try and make sense of what is or has happened to us.
Starting with Mary Magdalene, she went to the tomb of Jesus early in the morning of the first day, having witnessed three days earlier, the shocking death of the person she loved.
In a state of emotional trauma, she would have arrived at the tomb expecting to see the body of Jesus – but it was not there.
Instead, were two angels who asked her why she was weeping.
As she turned around in her confusion, she saw what she thought was the gardener and,
as we know, it wasn’t until Jesus said her name that she recognised who it really was.
Mary’s first thoughts and feelings are one’s of disbelief – Jesus should have been there,
and he wasn’t. Then she saw him, heard him, and believed.
Jesus instructed her to tell the others – ‘one shall tell the other’. And so, she did.
And the sequence of events repeated itself.
Mary told the disciples that she had seen the Lord – and they didn’t believe her.
On that same day, they were huddled behind locked doors in fear and confusion.
Fear for their lives from the Jewish hierarchy, possibly fear of Jesus –
since they had denied and abandoned him in his hour of need.
Fear locks people down, it immobilises thought and action.
They couldn’t believe what Mary had said, they needed proof.
And so, Jesus appeared to them, through the locked door on the evening of that first day – offering visible ‘proof’, the scars on his hands and side, that it was really him.
Seeing led to their believing. Hearing his voice calmed and reassured them –
‘peace be with you’ he said. And again, ‘peace be with you’.
Having dispelled their fears, the disciples would now be in a better state to receive the instruction from Jesus as to what to do next - the ‘great commission’ – the sending out to forgive sins with the Pentecostal comfort and strength offered by the Holy Spirit.
So here with the disciples, we have the same sequence of processing information as had Mary – on first hearing - disbelief, then proof with either seeing and/or hearing,
then an affirmation of belief. And so, the disciples told another,
they told Thomas.
Poor Thomas for some reason had not been present when Jesus first appeared to them.
Unfortunately, he has been unjustly labelled ‘Doubting Thomas’ for wanting the same ‘proof’ as Mary and the others had.
Understandably, on being told by his companions that they had seen and heard the Lord, he didn’t believe it either.
And so, eight days later, Jesus appeared to them again and with the same greeting
‘peace be with you’.
In addressing Thomas, Jesus recognises Thomas’ need for proof, and he encourages him not to doubt anymore. Thomas’ reaction to this encounter stands as the highest affirmation of Christ by any person in the Gospel –
“My Lord and my God!”
Complete and profound belief – a perfect ending to this chapter.
There are a number of points that I think we can draw from John’s writings.
Both Mary and the disciples must have been traumatised by the events leading up to and including the crucifixion. Trauma is emotionally distressing and leads to confused thinking. When we are emotionally distressed, we too may not think clearly.
We may be immobilised, locked-down and not able to function well;
unable to believe things that we are told and needing tangible evidence.
It is often at these times that Jesus appears
through the locked doors of our hearts and minds.
Thankfully he is not restricted by them.
Jesus’ first words are ‘Peace’ (Shalom).
How we engage and communicate with others we meet,
especially if they are struggling to believe, is important
and we would do well to learn from Jesus in putting their wellbeing first.
Giving that initial message of love and acceptance allows others to feel safe.
When people feel safe, they are able to connect and process information more effectively; they are more able to receive what is being said.
What is being said is – we are being sent out in the power of the Holy Spirit to tell one another the good news; to expect that there may be an initial reluctance to believe,
but to be the face of Christ to those with whom we meet.
We are now to be the ‘proof’ that Jesus has risen and lives.
Others will see this in the way we live.
So, go tell another….
One shall tell another
And he shall tell his friend
Husbands, wives and children
Shall come following on
From house to house in families
Shall more be gathered in
And lights will shine in every street
So warm and welcoming