Summary: Seeing is not believing!
Ants In The Pants – John 20: 19 - 31
Intro: If I had written the account of the resurrection of Jesus, it would have been a little bit different. For example: John would run up to Peter as he returned from witnessing the empty tomb. Excitedly, John would say, “Peter, I have good news and I have bad news.” Peter takes hold of John to calm him down saying, “Take it easy, John. What’s the good news?” John answers, “The good news is that Christ Jesus has risen from the dead.” Peter answered, “That’s wonderful news; but, what’s the bad news.” John looked around rather cautiously whispering, “Jesus is really angry with you about last Friday!”
I VS 19 – On the evening of that first 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 I am sure we have all had the experience where we are really involved in doing something like watching a scary movie, involved in reading a fascinating book, or playing an exciting game on the computer. Someone comes up to you without your knowledge and speaks your name. If you are at all like me, you probably jumped out of your skin.
B Do you think that might have been the reaction of the disciples? They might have thought it was a ghost! Imagine how you would feel if a deceased loved one appeared and spoke your name.
C The word disciples (mathetai – µa??ta?) is used to describe the entire “faith community” including the 11 apostles as well as others meeting to try to determine what to do next.
II Unlike my version of the story, Jesus appears and says a 2nd time in VS. 21 - Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
A Peace be with you was a common greeting at that time. It had many meanings: Peace be with you / May God give you every good thing / have a great day / bless you.
B Jesus comes to the very friends and colleagues who deserted him just days earlier greeting them as though all was forgotten and forgiven. We might say, MAY YOU GET WHAT’S COMING TO YOU!
C Instead of anger and resentment, Jesus greets them as friends and colleagues and not only gives them a job to do; but also, he gives a gift to make doing that job possible.
III VS. 22 – And with that he breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit.”
A There is a problem in the gospel with this story of the empowering and sending of the disciples. One of the disciples is missing: Thomas.
B VS. 25 – “So the other disciples told him ‘ We have seen the Lord!’ But he (Thomas) said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’”
C Thomas is no different than the others. He just wants what they have been given. He wants to “belong.” Isn’t that the driving force in our world today? We want what others have, to do what others do, to live like others live.
Concl: From the end of VS. 27 “Stop doubting and believe.” Gives us the rationale for “doubting Thomas.” I’ve heard it said that “DOUBT IS THE ANTS IN THE PANTS OF FAITH.”
I am holding a dollar. How do you know this piece of paper is worth a dollar? You believe a merchant will be willing to exchange it for a dollar’s worth of goods. You have faith that the government that backs this currency will make good on its promise of value.
VS. 29 Then Jesus told him (Thomas), “because you have seen me, you have believed: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
It is not physical sight and signs that are necessary to remove the ants of doubt from the pants of the faithful. You may not physically see Jesus standing among us; but that does not mean He isn’t here!
The only cure for the ants in the pants of faith is to have moments with Christ Jesus. Every time you hear the Word of God, Jesus steps into your life. Every time you receive the Lord’s Supper, Jesus is here. Every time we experience a baptism, Jesus is here. Through Word and Sacraments Jesus appears saying, “Shalom Aleckem.”