John 20: 19 – 34 / Jesus Stood Among Them
Intro: Two taxidermists stopped in front of a window where an owl was on display. They immediately began to criticize the way it was mounted, its eyes were not natural, its wings were not in proportion to its head, its feathers were not neatly arranged and its fee could be improved. Jas as the finished with their criticism, the owl turned his head and blinked. --- It’s easier to be critical when you don’t have all the facts. (adapted from an illustration in “Missouri Thomas” a sermon by John Beehler on SermonCentral.com)
I. VS. 19 – “On the evening of that 1st day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’”
A. Let’s be honest! If you were Jesus, would the first words out of your mouth be “Peace be with you”? Is this the greeting you would expect had your friends deserted you? At the very least I would have said, BOO! GUESS WHO?
B. Shalom Aleckem. Peace be with you! --- May God give you every good thing. Our greeting would probably be more like, MAY YOU GET WHAT’S COMING TO YOU.
C. Jesus stands among them and offers peace to their troubled minds. Earlier in his gospel John writes: Do not let your hears be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14: 1 – 3)
II. The gospel of John is a theological work. It was written to convey certain truths and ideas about Jesus to the early church and therefore to us.
A. The word disciples (mathētai – μαθηται) does not apply only to the 11 disciples. It is a word used by John to describe the entire “faith community.” It may likely have included the woman and other followers gathered trying to make sense of it all.
B. These were the colleagues of Jesus. He had trusted them and they had deserted him. Yet Jesus stands among them with a message of peace and a job to do. VS. 21 “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
C. To equip them to accomplish the work of being sent, Jesus gives them a gift. VS. 22 “And with the he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.”
III. There is only one problem with the story of the empowering and sending of the disciples. One of the disciples is missing: Thomas.
A. Thomas is no different than the others. He just wants what they have been given. He wants to be included. He wants to “belong.”
B. Isn’t that they way with our society in general? The driving force for most people is peer pressure. We all experience the pressure to have what others have, to do what others do, and to live like others live. In that regard, we are no different that Thomas.
C. VS. 27 “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” The story doesn’t tell us if Thomas did as instructed by Jesus. However, Thomas does declare his faith in VS. 28 by saying “MY Lord and my God!”
Conclu: In John Irving’s novel “A Prayer For Owen Meany”, the narrator John speaks to his friend, Owen Meany about the meaning of belief. Owen illustrates his faith in God by point to a gray granite statue of Mary Magdalene as twilight falls. When it has become so dark that the statue is no longer visible, Owen asks John if he knows the statue is still there. John is adamant that the statue is there even though he cannot see it.
I have in my hand a silver dollar. How do I know that this coin is worth a dollar? You believe a merchant will be willing to exchange it for a dollar’s worth of goods. You have faith in the government that backs the currency that it will make good on its promise of value.
It is not physical sight and signs that are necessary for faith. You may not physically see Jesus standing among us; but that doesn’t mean He isn’t here!