Summary: The resurrected Jesus appears to His disciples
April 8, 2018
Commissioned with the Power of Jesus Resurrected
We begin reading today’s gospel message and immediately get a very vivid picture of fear and confusion. The disciples are gathered together behind locked doors. They are very afraid that the enemies of Jesus will be coming for them next. Well isn’t that a very natural human response? To destroy a movement (Emerging Christianity was certainly a movement) first the leader(s) are sought and destroyed and next the followers. Perhaps a clear example is Hitler and the Nazi movement. When Hitler was taken out, it was the beginning of the end. More recently, a similar occurrence with Suddam Hussein.
It was the first day of the week, so it says in verse 19. So, let’s look at that for a moment. The first day of the week, would that be Sunday? Would that be the Sabbath? It is strange if not sad to me, to see so much divisiveness and confusion over whether the Sabbath is to be Saturday or Sunday.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.” Exodus 20:8-10
Clearly the Sabbath was originally ordained as the last day of the week or Saturday. Let’s dig a little deeper and read what His Word tells us in the New Testament.
“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.” Romans 14:5-6
Let us not get all tangled up and confused in some matter of legalism or semantics. Originally God commanded that the last day of the week be set aside for rest and worship – The Sabbath.
However, as we just read in Romans, how we establish and practice the Sabbath is left up to us. The key question has more to do with HOW we practice the Sabbath than WHEN we practice the Sabbath.
Moving on –
The disciples are huddled behind locked doors. They seek comfort from one another as they try to understand what has just happened and ponder their future. It is not a stretch to realize that there are churches today that seem to isolate themselves in a similar manner – inward. Inward in that they feel safe with themselves, in their own circle, in their established denominational traditions, more tolerant of newcomers than welcoming and not venturing out to serve others and share the gospel beyond the walls of the church.
As we read on, we see Jesus suddenly appears in their midst, saying: “Peace be with you.” Jesus immediately shows them His hands and His side. I believe that Jesus realized their fear and wanted them to know that it was indeed Him.
Jesus was there to give them encouragement and assurance. He was also there to empower them. How He breathed on them! The act of His breathing on them was the act of baptizing them with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit remains (dwells) within them and empowers them.
“..the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:17
So as to avoid any misconception in reading “the world cannot receive”, understand that the Holy Spirit is available to all. Being baptized in the Holy Spirit is not some elite achievement. The “world” cannot receive the Holy Spirit because the world is not comprised of believers nor even seekers. For sincere believers and seekers, the Holy Spirit is there for the asking.
Thomas wasn’t among them that night behind locked doors. When Thomas joined them, they were excited to share all that took place with Jesus coming to them. Thomas just couldn’t believe them and said unless he could physically put his finger in the print of the nail and his hand in the wound in His side, he simply would not believe them. Eight days later, when they were all assembled again behind closed doors, Jesus appeared a second time. This time Thomas was there. Jesus greeted them in His usual manner, “Peace to you”. Jesus immediately stood before Thomas and instructed him to touch the nail prints and the wound in His side. :” Do not be unbelieving but believing”.