(A sermon based on John 20:19-31 for the Second Sunday of Easter 2013)
[Note: the Abraham Baldwin College Chamber Singers led us in worship so I offered this brief message.]
Jesus is alive! And it is because Jesus is alive that we are alive! And it is because Jesus is alive and we are alive that we can offer Jesus’ life to other people!
The story in our text is set on Easter Sunday evening; Jesus appeared to his disciples who were huddled behind closed doors. There he gave them some gifts that would be necessary for their successful continuation of Jesus’ ministry.
One gift he gave them was his presence. He came to them and let them know that he was indeed alive; he gave them an experience with him.
Another gift he gave them was his peace. In his greeting “Peace be with you” was an affirmation of the ever-increasing wholeness and well-being that was their because of his life, death, and resurrection.
A third gift he gave them was the Holy Spirit. He conferred that great gift on them so that they would always know the presence and power of God.
A fourth gift he gave them was a commission. He sent them as the Father had sent him to offer hope and life to the lost and hurting.
Jesus has given us all those same gifts. We too are blessed with his presence, his peace, his Spirit, and his commission.
The next Sunday, after Thomas, who had been absent on Easter evening, was given the opportunity by Jesus to view his wounds and then expressed his faith in Jesus, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” What he meant was that after those who had been eyewitnesses to his resurrection had all died out, subsequent generations would have to believe in him based on the testimony—based on the lives—of those who bore witness to him.
What will they see in us—what do they see in us—that will help them to believe in him? How will they see him in us? They can’t see his presence, his peace, his Spirit, or his commission—although our inward possession of them might sometimes shine through us. What can they see?
They can see his wounds in us. They can see the wounds that we bear for serving and following him. Provided, of course, that we are willing to be wounded for his sake …