Friday, March 30, 2018

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed

It’s hard to get through an Easter morning without somehow finding your way to John 20.  Early in the morning Mary is headed to the tomb.  She brings back unbelievable news about the stone being rolled away.

Then Peter and another disciple, likely this gospel’s author—John—race to the tomb.  John won the race but stopped at the entrance to look in.  Peter caught up and went right on inside.  John followed Peter inside the tomb.

They saw the clothing that Jesus was buried in but there was no Jesus.  The scripture tells us that these two men did not yet comprehend what scripture had prophesied, that Jesus must rise from the dead.  They did all that they knew to do.  They went home, or at least to the place they were calling home for the time being.

Mary returned to the tomb and found two angels seated inside.  They asked:  Why are you crying?  Do you not understand what has happened?

See turned around and saw a man.  She didn’t know this was Jesus.  She thought it might have been the gardener, but he asked the same question:  Why are you crying?  Who are you looking for?

Can he not know what’s happening?  I am looking for my Lord.  Someone has taken him.  If it was you, please tell me where he is.

 Jesus replied:  Mary.  Jesus called her by name and instantly she knew who he was. 

She replied, Rabboni!  Rabbi!  Teacher!  There was not only recognition but joy in her voice.

She wanted to hold on to Jesus but instead, Jesus gave her instructions.  Go tell the disciples that you have seen me.

This was still early in the morning.  I could imagine the conversation among the disciples once they got this news.  Peter and John were probably thinking, “Hey, we were just there.”

I’m sure the disciples had a hundred questions that they asked a thousand different ways.  I would guess the place was abuzz with speculation.

That evening, with the doors locked for who knows that they might not be next to be nailed to a cross, Jesus entered the room and spoke a simple phrase, “Peace be with you.”

He showed them his wounds and gave them some preliminary instructions.  I am sending you into the world with this message of forgiveness and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  It would take about 5 weeks for this all to come together, but this thing that we call the church age was about to explode upon the world.

OBTW—Thomas was not there with the other disciples.  I don’t know if he had a dental appointment or was trying to be the crowd at the unemployment office—it did appear that he was out of a job, but he was not there when Jesus appeared to his fellow disciples.

And…  When he returned, he did not believe what his brothers had told him.  He was adamant that he would have to see Jesus for himself, wounds and all.  He wanted some hard evidence.

Now it was a week later and the disciples were all gathered in a locked room and Jesus appeared again.  He offered the same greeting, “Peace be with you.”

But the action moved directly to Thomas.  Jesus told Thomas to do what he needed to do.  Put your finger through the hole in my hands.  Feel the wound in my side.

It never got that far.  Thomas was overwhelmed.  He saw and he believed.  He acknowledged his Master:  My Lord and my God!

Next, we come to words for every believer who has professed Jesus as Lord for the next two millennia.

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

This is us.  This is your parents and grandparents.  These are the settlers on the American frontier.  These are Martin Luther and John Calvin.  These are the early believers in Antioch, Philippi, and Corinth. 

Something over 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus.  Everyone else has professed their faith without this physical appearance. 

We have believed the unbelievable, and Jesus said that we will be blessed for it. 

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.


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