When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (JOHN 20:19-31)
Through the written word, and the spoken word,
may we know your Living Word Jesus Christ our Savour. Amen
Jesus has changed everything.
Jesus changes everything. Jesus will change everything. The events of two thousand years ago have changed everything, including you and me. Maybe God loves us?
Christians everywhere, followers of this Jesus who has changed everything, have spent weeks, or was it years? It seems like was a very long time - plodding through Lent, daily being reminded of how sinful we are, how we make rotten choices and how easily we are diverted to thoughts, words and deeds that grieve our heavenly Father. After the necessary and helpful somber pilgrimage through Lent, we arrived at Good Friday, where it all got worse, The unthinkable, in human terms, happened. Jesus, the Son of God, the Christ, was crucified, killed. Good Friday? How can that be? And yet - it is. Because Jesus died. Because he was killed. And in his dying, changed everything.
Three days later, on Easter Day, all that misery was replaced with the celebration of the awesome power of our loving God. Jesus is no longer dead, he is risen, he is alive, God lifted him from death to life. He is no longer in the tomb, without breath, without light, without life. Death, the enemy, the devil, Satan, has been defeated, Is defeated. And things changed for him too. The only power he has now is the power we give him when we succumb to his charms, his deceits, his temptations.
Jesus changed everything for the disciples.
Isn’t this a wonderful story in today’s Gospel reading! Thomas is the one disciple I would really like to meet. He was missing when Jesus first appeared to the other disciples, and so had to hear about the miracle from his companions.
I wonder what the other disciples said to Thomas beyond the words recorded in this chapter of John. Did they make themselves out to be super special because they had seen the Lord and Thomas hadn't? I like to think they commiserated with Thomas because he wasn’t there to see Jesus with them.
They told him we have seen the Lord.
What? Really? I don’t believe it. I need proof. I need to see the holes made by the nails, and not just see them, but put my fingers in the holes, touch them. I will not believe unless that happens.
What would be our reaction if someone came into this place and said “I have seen the Lord’? Would we think him, or her, to be crazy, an attention-seeking delusionist? An interrupter of all that is Anglican, all that is decent and in order? Or would we praise our God for his kindness and goodness and for the great gift he has given the person who says he has seen the Lord. What an amazing thing to experience. Would we be jealous? Would we believe?
Thomas was not there with his fellow disciples when Jesus came into that room. Jesus knew he wouldn’t be, and still chose that time to appear to the disciples. And when he comes to them again, a week later, when Thomas ispresent, Jesus does not give Thomas a hard time for not believing that the other disciples had seen the resurrected Jesus. He does not put Thomas down for his doubts. He meets Thomas right where he is and builds on that. Can we do any less for the people, especially the unbelievers that the Lord puts in our lives?
And it seems to me that it is natural to have doubts sometimes. I do - there are seasons in my life when I question just about everything. The key to this, for me, is not to live in those doubts. I know I can share my questions, my doubts, with the Lord, in prayer, and trust that He will help me deal with them, however that looks and in his time. Our God, who changed everything by allowing his Son to die so that we can be saved from sin and death, can probably manage to help me with my doubts.
Julian of Norwich
And so our good Lord answered to all the questions and doubts which I could raise, saying most comfortingly; I may make all things well, and I can make all things well, and I shall make all things well, and I will make all things well; and you will see yourself that every kind of thing will be well . . And in these words God wishes us to be enclosed in rest and peace.
Why didn’t Jesus wait until all the disciples were there before showing himself to them? Perhaps it was because Jesus knew that 2000 years later, each one of us would need to hear this story - the doubt, the need for proof, Thomas’s declaration “My Lord and my God,” and Jesus’ words to Thomas. “ Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
We have not had the privilege of seeing, in person, the resurrected Jesus. We are still a blessed people if we believe. Jesus says so.
Jesus also changes things in our ordinary everyday lives.
James Ryle said
Healthy things grow
Growing things change
Change challenges us
Challenge forces us to trust God
Trust leads to obedience
Obedience makes us healthy
Healthy things grow . . .
Gene and I do our best, mostly, to follow Jesus. Or rather, to let him lead. That is harder for me than following. And because of this following thing, we also do our best to listen to God in the power of his Holy Spirit. We have recently experienced a change, a somewhat cataclysmic change — story of move to Regina. Word came to us as we drove home in June. Good things - house sold in a very down market, free storage space, found a great cottage in Regina. Not so good things - Dealing, through the grace of God, with less than helpful remarks such as ‘gee, I wouldn’t live in Regina if it were the last place on earth’. Just smile and wave, boys! Anyway, lots and lots of God-given change which has challenged us and delighted us and sometimes has caused us to grieve. And because Jesus is involved, our lives have changed, we continue to be challenged. And we also continue to work on trusting and obeying, mostly, and our spiritual health improves.
Jesus changes us - if we will only let him.
Today, as on every Sunday when God’s people gather to worship him and celebrate the Eucharist, we have the opportunity to acknowledge the magnificent event of Easter, the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
And as always when we encounter our Lord Jesus with open hearts and minds and hands, we will be changed. As we remember what God in his love and mercy has done for us and as we come to the altar this morning to receive Jesus Christ’s body and blood, to be changed, we, with Thomas, can proclaim “My Lord and my God”.