Summary: A sermon about the 2nd Sunday of Easter A sermon about the disciples, Thomas, and Jesus appearing to them
2nd Sunday of Easter
"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And 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; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, 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 in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe." Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but 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; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." 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 believe." Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name." John 20:19-31, RSV.
Grace and peace to you from the risen Lord. Amen
Our gospel lesson this morning concerns the disciples and one disciple in particular, Thomas. Thomas is the disciple that has received a certain adjective before his name, he is called doubting Thomas. But I wonder if that is fair.
Let us get a feeling for what was going on at this point in the lives of the disciples. The disciples were crowded into the upper room. They had heard word just that morning that Jesus’ body was no longer in the tomb. The women had come to tell them he had risen. But they didn’t believe. They had their doubts. John and Peter went and checked it out. Peter saw, but he couldn’t put it all together. John saw and believed. So, I would imagine that he went back and spent the rest of the day trying to convince the rest that what he saw, the empty tomb, the folded linen clothes, the head piece sitting by itself, that this was all the signs that Jesus had indeed risen.
Can you imagine the conversation that took place during that day? They were too afraid of the Jews and the Romans to go out and see, or look for Jesus, so they sat in that upper room sulking, praying, arguing, discussing, pondering, recalling the words of Jesus. I can imagine that John was leading the conversation and Peter boldly trying to make sense of it. The women, especially Mary was trying to convince the rest of her conviction that Jesus had risen, because she had traveled the long road of doubt and despair and had come to the conclusion, the realization, the belief that Jesus had indeed risen.
As they were all talking, pondering about the news the women and Peter and John brought back that the body was missing. Jesus appears in the room. Notice the first word out of the Jesus’ mouth was peace be with you. Jesus came and brought a calming effect to the disciple. He brought peace.
A peace that is seen in the following illustration.
An artist was commissioned by a wealthy man to paint something that would depict peace. After a great deal of thought, the artist painted a beautiful country scene. There were green fields with cows standing in them, birds were flying in the blue sky and a lovely little village lay in a distant valley. The artist gave the picture to the man, but there was a look of disappointment on his face. The man said to the artist, "This isn’t a picture of true peace. It isn’t right. Go back and try again.
The artist went back to his studio, thought for several hours about peace, then went to his canvas and began to paint. When he was finished, there on the canvas was a beautiful picture of a mother, holding a sleeping baby in her arms, smiling lovingly at the child.