Summary: Because we do not see the physical presence of Jesus among us does not free us from the ministry He has entrusted to us.
John 20: 19 – 31 Does Jesus Stand Among US?
Intro: My first year in college was really tough. I was away from home for the 1st time, living with a bunch of strangers, eating in a dining hall, an attending some of the largest classes I had ever seen. I didn’t know anyone, even the teachers were new to me. Like other freshmen, most of the time I sat staring at the desk out of fear. I was afraid the professor would call on me and I would make a fool of myself answering or failing to answer their question. I always looked for the biggest guy in the class and tried to hide behind them. I had not yet learned that if you had not done the reading or assignment for the day, you just didn’t go to class. So, on those days when I was least prepared, I sat in fear of being caught.
I. Verse 19 sets a similar scene. The disciples were together, sitting behind locked doors perhaps praying that no one would be looking for them. --- At least they didn’t have to fear the teacher!
A. The disciples (mathétai) does not mean specifically the 11. John is not talking about the apostolic leadership. --- This is a word used for the entire “faith community.”
B. We’ve all had the experience when we are intently working on something or involved in a book, or project and someone comes up to you without your knowledge and speaks your name. --- If you’re like me, you probably jump out of your skin.
C. I think that’s probably how the disciples felt when Jesus said, “Shalom Aleckem.” Just imagine how you would feel if you suddenly heard the voice of a deceased loved one.
II. Shalom Aleckem means a number of things. In this instance it takes on the meaning, “Peace be with you” or “May God give you every good thing.”
A. The gospel of John is a theological work. It was written to convey certain truths and ideas about Jesus to the early church. Not only is John speaking through Jesus to those gathered in the upper room, he is speaking to us through Jesus as well.
B. Remember, these were the friends and colleagues of Jesus. The very ones who had deserted him to the Roman authorities. Yet in Verse 21 – 23 he them the gift of the Spirit by “breathing on them.” Same terminology used in Genesis 2 for the Breath of God” that makes humanity what it is.
C. Jesus also gives them a job (“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”) - sent to forgive sins - (hamartia) – In John, sin is a theological failing not a moral or behavioral transgression. To have sin is to be blind to the revelation of God in Jesus. By loving one another as Jesus loves, the faith community reveals God to the world; by revealing God to the world, the church makes it possible for the world to choose to enter into relationship with this God of love. It is in choosing or rejecting this relationship with God that sins are forgiven or retained.
III. Does Jesus stand among us as he did in that room long ago? I believe he does granting us the same gift and challenging us to do the same job.
A. Verses 24 – 29 tells the story of Thomas, commonly called, Doubting Thomas. Actually, he is no different that the other disciples or us. Because it isn’t touching Jesus that leads Thomas to his confession in verse 28, it is Jesus’ gracious offering of himself to Thomas.