Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Doubters dare to believe! The SAS motto is?....Yes "He who dares wins. I dare you to stop doubting and become a winner. The prize? A peace that passes all understanding even when in crisis and for all who trust Christ, everlasting life.

(Illustrating joke) When Beethoven passed away, he was buried in a churchyard. A couple days later, the town drunk was walking through the cemetery and heard some strange noise coming from the area where Beethoven was buried. Terrified, the drunk ran and got the priest to come and listen to it. The priest bent close to the grave and heard some faint, unrecognizable music coming from the grave. Frightened, the priest ran and got the town magistrate, who also was a noted musician. When the magistrate arrived, he bent his ear to the grave, listened for a moment, and said, "Ah, yes, that’s Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, being played backwards." He listened a while longer, and said, "There’s the Eighth Symphony, and it’s backwards, too. Most puzzling." So the magistrate kept listening; "There’s the Seventh… the Sixth… the Fifth…" Suddenly the realization of what was happening dawned on the magistrate; he stood up and announced to the crowd that had gathered in the cemetery, "My fellow citizens, there’s nothing to worry about. It’s just Beethoven decomposing."

Here we are it’s Sunday night most of the disciples were together, I say most because one, Thomas was missing, the doors were locked and they were in fear of their lives, believing that the Jews would dish out the same punishment on them that their Master had to endure. I am a little surprised that they had not fled in different directions having witnessed the horrendous events of the crucifixion. Although the reason they stayed together is not made clear, Matthew Henry in his commentary states his belief to be that they met together to know one another’s minds, to strengthen one another’s hands and to concert proper measures to be taken in the present critical juncture. Critical juncture, I think is an understatement! All they had been taught, all they had been through and witnessed with Jesus must have seemed totally wasted. They were frightened, they felt abandoned, they must have been in total confusion and dismay. Although Jesus had tried to explain to them why he had to go to the cross and the victory it would bring, they hadn’t grasped it. John 20 v9 tells us they still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. Then Jesus came and stood among them and said “Peace be with you”. Try to imagine the scene, a room full of frighten men in fear of their lives, having been told about eternal life, yet unable to grasp what was meant by Jesus’ teaching of the victory over death by the cross. Do you think that they were instantaneously transformed into a cool, calm and collective bunch. I very much doubt it. I tell you from personal experience that when someone unexpectedly sees a ghost, they are far from calm. In fact if we read Luke’s account he confirms that they were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. Even after this event on the several other occasions Jesus met with them, some were still sceptical, and Jesus even cooked and eat a meal with them on a beach to prove he wasn’t a ghost. Ghost don’t eat! Jesus then showed them his hands and his feet where those large nails had been driven through. The disciples we are told in v20 were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean they were now calm, in fact Jesus said to them again “Peace be with you!” He then goes on to tell them that they were to be sent into the battlefield, they were to carry on in the same ministry as Jesus himself. However he first of all knowing their human weaknesses did what? He breathed on them. Why? probably for two reasons Firstly to let them feel his breath, dead men don’t breathe, but more importantly to anoint them with the Holy Spirit, because no disciple however well trained or read can be effective without this anointing. I tell you what a night this must have been, not only did they become reunited with Christ in person, but also were anointed by the spirit. What a special moment.

When told about this very special moment, Thomas didn’t believe them. Lets be honest the disciples were only ordinary blokes like any of us. How often do we kid each other wind each other up or worst still not tell the whole truth! However sometimes our limited understanding of a subject can often give us doubt and mask the truth, the reality of a situation. Just think about these examples and how we would have reacted! Lets go back just a hundred years: To pigeons speaking one tells the other in the future man will make a huge metal flying bird which will carry hundreds of people around the world in it's body". Two men playing snooker one says "Soon we won't have time to play this we will too busy watching live pictures from around the world in a wooden box in our homes" Do you get the picture? See what seems crazy or impossible may eventually become possible! This is especially so when we bring God into the equation! Virgin Birth and Resurrection a piece of cake for God!

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