Summary: Sermon for the 2nd Sunday of Easter
John 20: 19 – 31/ Have You Seen?
Intro: If I had written the account of the resurrection of Jesus, I would have begun a little differently. When John returned from the empty tomb he found Peter and ran up to him. Excitedly, he said, “Peter, I have some good news and I have some bad news.” Peter took hold of John and calmed him down. “Take it easy, John. What’s the good news?” John said, “The good news is the Christ is risen.” Peter said, “That’s great; but, what’s the bad news.” John looking around rather cautiously said, “He’s really steamed with you about Friday!”
I. In VS. 19 it is the evening after the discovery of the empty tomb and we find the disciples together, sitting behind locked doors, afraid. They were afraid of the Romans and the Jews. Do you think they might have been afraid of Jesus?
A. The word disciples (mathētai – μαθηται) does not apply only to the 11 disciples. It is a word used 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. We’ve all had the experience when we are intently working on something or involved in a book or project, when someone comes up to you without your knowledge and speaks your name. If you are like me, you probably jump out of your skin.
C. I think that’s probably how those gathered in the upper room felt when Jesus said, “Shalom Aleckem.” Imagine how you would feel if you heard the voice of a deceased loved one speaking your name.
II. Shalom Aleckem has several meanings. “Peace be with you” or “May God give you every good thing.”
A. These were the friends and colleagues of Jesus; the very ones who had deserted him. Yet in VSS. 21 – 23 he gives them a gift and a challenge.
B. The gift is emphysao – Єμφυσάω breath. It is the word that translates the Hebrew word for the breath of God used in Genesis 2 that makes humanity what it is. Jesus gives them Holy Spirit by breathing on them.
C. The challenge is to forgive (aphiemi άφίημι) or retain (krateo κρατέω) sins (hamartia άμαρτια). These verbs are used only here in the gospel of John. In John, sin is to be blind to the revelation of God in Jesus.
III. This story ends with the story of Thomas (commonly called “doubting Thomas.) But Thomas is no different than the other disciples. They wanted to see and Jesus shows them (See VS.20)
A. VS. 27 Jesus says, “Do not be unbelieving” (apistos - απιστος) but “believing.”(pistos – πιστος) This is the only occurrence of these two words in the gospel of John. Both words refer to the grounds of faith.
B. The text isn’t about seeing or touching Jesus. Nor is the text about the doubt of Thomas. It is about confessing faith in Christ.
C. The gracious offer of himself by Jesus to Thomas is what leads Thomas to his confession in VS. 28. Jesus is giving Thomas what he needs for faith.
Conclu: We are so much like Thomas. We want to see with our eyes and feel with our hands. We live in a “show me” society.
You may not see Jesus standing among us; but that doesn’t mean He isn’t here! I cannot see your brain; but, I know you have one. Have you seen? Do you believe?
VS. 29 is intended to reassure us and all future generations of believers that seeing Jesus is not a prerequisite for faith. It is not physical sight and signs that are decisive for faith, but the truth they reveal. The truth is that Jesus is the Son of God and we can experience new life through His life and His work.
I’ve heard it said that doubts are the ants in the pants of faith.
Numerous disciples were executed because the refused to deny the resurrection. No sane person would die for something that didn’t happen.
There is only one cure for your doubt and that 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.