Summary: This sermon addresses the question of what Jesus resurection does for us.
SERMON FOR SUNDAY 18 April 2004
SCRIPTURE READING:1 John 1: 1 - 2:2
GOSPEL: John 20: 19 - 31
He Gave Us The Victory
Last week we heard how the disciples didn’t believe the women when they said that an angel told them that Jesus was risen from the dead. Peter and John had rushed off to the tomb, looked in, saw the body was gone, and then went home wondering what had happened.
That same night the disciples gathered together —probably in the same room where they had the last supper with Jesus — to discuss what had happened. They had the doors locked because they were afraid that the same people that crucified Jesus might come after them. They were a bunch of very scared and confused people. None of the men had yet seen the risen Jesus, and of the women only Mary Magdalene had seen him, and the men just could not bring themselves to believe what she told them. It was too incredible.
Suddenly, even though all the doors were securely locked, Jesus was standing in the middle of them. Luke 24:37 tells us that they were startled and frightened. I think that is a great understatement. Can you imagine the panic and fear that must have swept over them. IT’S A GHOST, IT MUST BE A GHOST!!! The doors are LOCKED!!! How could he get in!!
Then they heard the voice of their beloved master, "Shalom, Peace be with you." It was the normal, everyday Middle Eastern greeting, but it meant much more than just "Peace be with you." It meant, "May God give you every good thing," and in this case it carried an even greater meaning. In John 14:27 Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you-, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
When they heard his voice, and saw his wounds they knew that it was really Jesus that was there. John says unemotionally, "The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord." Oh my! Overjoyed? Overjoyed? What a fantastic electric shock of wonderful joy must have enveloped them! Oh Yes!! Over-Joyed. Their beloved master that they had seen crucified and buried was now standing in the room and talking to them. Just try for a minute to put yourself in their place. What would you feel if somebody that you loved with all of your heart died, and you attended the funeral -watched your loved one buried. Now suddenly your loved one is alive again and talking with you. What would you feel.
The bible doesn’t say so, but I can’t help but think there must have been shouts of joy, slapping each other on the back, hugs, and not a few tear filled eyes. Yes -overjoyed.
We of the 21st Century who call ourselves Christians —shouldn’t we also be overjoyed. In the past year we have followed Jesus’ life and teachings as told in the Gospels. We are familiar with his wonderful teaching about His self and ourselves, and how we can have eternal life. We have read about His magnificent love expressed in kind words, healings and even in restoring life to the dead. We also know about the tragedy of Judas’ betrayal, Jesus mock trial, His being scourged and finally crucified. Our beloved Jesus -crucified. Now He is risen, and He is with us according to His promise.
We have that song we sing, "Alive, Alive." Sing it with me now, and Sing with the joy of knowing deep down in your soul that it’s true.
After the disciples calmed down, Jesus spoke to them again, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." God the father sent Jesus on a mission to the world. That mission included teaching the 12 disciples the good news, the Gospel, of God’s love and how we can have salvation into His eternal kingdom. Jesus’ part of the job was finished. On the cross Jesus said, "It is finished." Now He, Jesus was sending the eleven to continue what He had started. From that moment on they were no longer just His disciples, they were the Apostles. The sent ones.
William Barclay in his commentary on the Gospel of John, puts it this way:
Quote "Jesus had come with a message for all men and now he was going back to his Father. His message could never be taken to all men, unless the Church took it. The Church was to be a mouth to speak for Jesus, feet to run upon his errands, hands to do his work. ..Jesus is dependent on his church" end quote.
Does this help to understand one of the reasons why the church is referred to as the body of Christ?