In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, â€œPeace to you!â€
21 Jesus said to them again, â€œPeace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.â€22 After saying this, He breathed on them and said, â€œReceive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.â€ â€¦
Jesus said, â€œBecause you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.â€
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book.31 But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name. Â Â John 20:19-23, 29-31 (HCSB)
Lectionary texts: Acts 5:27-32, Psalm 150, Revelation 1:4-8, John 20:19-31
Next Sunday, as it often happens every year, Thomas, one of only twelve chosen by Jesus to spread the Good News, is going to again be labeled â€œDoubting Thomas.â€ Not by me. I am bypassing this one incident in the life of this wonderful man of God who went on to take the Gospel into India and there died a martyr. I am going to focus on the orders that Jesus has for me.
Peace. It is much easier to grasp the peace that the resurrected Jesus brings when I am looking back over 2000 years. If three days after my son died as I was busily trying to dig out of the debris of Hurricane Ivan and prepare for the visitors that were expected, my son had suddenly appeared and said, â€œHey, Mom! Relax. I’m not really dead. Jesus sends you His peace!â€ it might have taken some mental and spiritual work on my part to grab on to the peace. But that’s a point I need to understand. Even in unexpected, mind-blowing, I-don’t-understand times, Jesus is there and His peace is sufficient for me. It’s not about intellectual abilities. It’s like 1 + 1 = 2. Jesus + nothing from me = Victory. I do not bring anything to the equation. I just have what He gives and it’s always a plus.
Go. The Father sent Jesus to be born, live His life in Kingdom building, die to this life so that He would live forever. And that is what the Father wants for me. â€œGo, Jody. Do not speed through life, thinking only of yourself. Do not coast through life without My purpose. And do not miss the opportunities to work in My Kingdom and catch of glimpse of what is to come! And don’t worry â€“ Jesus is the Way!â€ Whether I go and work in a village in another part of the world or help those in need in the town where I was born or reach out across the world wide web to teach and encourage, it is not about whether anyone else counts my steps. It is only whether I heard the Father’s voice and followed Jesus where He led me.
Receive. Too often I think we pay more attention to the â€œforgiving and retainingâ€ part of this passage and miss the bigger point. Jesus gave the power of the Holy Spirit to me. When I walk through my own desert of trial and temptation, I walk with His Spirit. When I am asked to speak or give what I have or wash the feet of someone or forgive someone who doesn’t realize how they are hurting/killing me, I have His Spirit for all that I need. I â€œjustâ€ have to receive it and that is about commitment to our relationship. Take the time to soak the Spirit into my spirit.
Believe. This can be the biggest stumbling block of all. A step of faith. Bible study and prayer are the essential water and fertilizer of our faith. But it is that daily step toward Jesus, believing that He is who He says He is, that brings Light into our lives and keeps us growing. Jesus said, â€œI am the vine. You are my branches. If you believe in Me, you will be able to do many things in the Kingdom. Apart from me, you can do nothing.â€ (John 15:5, my paraphrase) Simple but not easy order. Believe.
When You Believe written by Stephen Schwartz, from the movie Prince of Egypt