April 18-20, 2020
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: John 20:19-31 (EHV)
1. For those who are afraid.
2. For those who doubt.
3. For those who believe.
John 20:19-31 (EHV) “On the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were together behind locked doors because of their fear of the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you! Just as the Father has sent me, I am also sending you.” 22After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23Whenever you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven. Whenever you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24But Thomas, one of the Twelve, the one called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26After eight days, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Take your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue to doubt, but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30Jesus, in the presence of his disciples, did many other miraculous signs that are not written in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
One of the not so good things about this shutdown is I find myself watching more TV commercials. Normally Chris and I use our DVR to avoid watching them but recently since we are doing a little more TV watching we don’t have the buffer or the recording. One of those commercials brought a smile to my face. It was for Geico and had some people trying to hide from a killer. You’ve probably seen it. Instead of taking off in a car, they say “Let’s hide behind the chainsaws!” Really? Don’t you know what’s going to happen? It reminded me of the way so many dramas are set up. The lady is home alone. She has been threatened. She hears a noise in the basement. She goes to explore. The light doesn’t work. So she starts down the stairs. At that point you are just screaming. “Seriously, don’t you know what’s going to happen?” You want to jump into the program and stop them. I find myself feeling the same way as we walk with Jesus’ disciples after Jesus’ resurrection. Guys! Come on. Are you really going to be fearful, really going to doubt when Jesus has already given proof He is alive! Don’t you already know what’s going to happen? But it’s good for us to see how Jesus’ disciples act because we are Jesus’ disciples too. And we often act like they do. More importantly, we see Jesus and how he provides all his followers with exactly what they need to have peace!
It’s the evening of Easter Sunday. The disciples have heard from the women that Jesus rose from the dead. Peter and John have seen the empty tomb and folded grave clothes. The Emmaus disciples have rushed in and told them how Jesus walked with them. So of course they are rejoicing and celebrating and…No. They are behind locked doors afraid of the Jewish leaders who had opposed and killed Jesus. Fear will do that to you. It will make you act irrationally. It will paralyze your ability to have joy and happiness. But Jesus came. “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” Look how things changed when they knew, they knew, Jesus lives. Peace. That’s calmness even in difficult circumstances. Joy because Jesus lives. Purpose. Remember the real mission is to get folks forgiven.
Peace is what Jesus gives to his disciples who are afraid. Good thing too, because sometimes we are afraid. Fear can cause you to do things that appear irrational. I don’t know anybody who would arbitrarily say that shutting down a booming American economy, stunting the education of 54 million k-12 students and millions more college kids, having over 22 million Americans lose their jobs and not letting children see their parents in their last days of life is a good idea. Yet that very thing has happened. Why? Fear. Fear what the coronavirus could do. Fear because we don’t have all the facts. Fear that is robbing people of peace and joy. Maybe it is robbing you. But this is nothing new for us, is it? Like the disciples we have been told Jesus lives and rules all for our good. We have seen the proof in our own lives. Our personal history proves the proverb “If God brings you to it He will bring you through it.” But then the cancer diagnosis comes. Then the job loss comes. Then___________________. We feel anxious. Fearful. Sad. Stressed. Peace! Jesus lives! The conqueror of sin, death and the Devil lives and is with you. He rules for you. That Good News needs to be the focus of our lives.
Peace is also what Jesus provides for the doubters. Poor Thomas is always going to carry that label. He didn’t always doubt. He was the one who urged the disciples to go die with Jesus when He went to Jerusalem knowing full well the opposition he would receive. He has this moment of weakness. He’s heard all the testimony the others disciples have. Now he gets theirs. They keep telling him Jesus is alive. The response? “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Now I know we wanted to rush in there and try to stop him but it’s good for us that Thomas went ahead with his bold skepticism. It’s good because while sometimes we are like Thomas and are bold in our trust in Jesus at other times we are like Thomas and we doubt even though all of the voices in the Bible are telling us the truth, even though we can look back at the fingerprints of God in our lives but when a time of testing or trial pops up we doubt. Look what Jesus gives to the doubting. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Take your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue to doubt, but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Peace with proof. The exact proof Thomas had boldly demanded proving that not only does Jesus live but He is with us always. Do you think it made an impact on the rest of Thomas’ life to realize Jesus had been with him the whole time he was setting his conditions? Jesus lives so Thomas got peace.
Good news for us. Because no matter how many times Jesus gets us through another rough patch, no matter how many times he provides in a way were not anticipating, the next time there is a tight spot we find it so easy to doubt Jesus’ wisdom and power in our lives. We doubt that we will get through it. The result? No peace. But Jesus lives. And just like He gave Thomas exactly what he needed to believe Jesus has done the same for you and me.
Jesus pointed us to it when He said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” And then He had John write these words, “Jesus, in the presence of his disciples, did many other miraculous signs that are not written in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Peace. A calmness no matter what is happening, is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. It’s a blessing the Holy Spirit brings into our lives with faith. While Thomas believed because he saw, Jesus says it is better to believe because you have heard. He said those who believe on the basis of being told are blessed, made happy, at peace. Think about it. If I can only have peace once I see how God bailed me out that means I will live most of my life without peace because I can’t have peace until I have seen. If you can’t have peace until you see how this whole covid 19 thing plays out, you will have weeks or months of no peace. On the other hand if I have peace because God says so then I get to live the largest portion of my life at peace. I get peace right now because Jesus lives. Jesus who did so many more miracles than we know of. Jesus who rules all for the good of the church. Peace. Do you want it? You know how to get it. These things are written so you may believe in Jesus and have life in His name, a life of peace now that will extend to the perfect peace of heaven.
I urge all of you to continue to be in this word if you already are. And if you are not to make it your first priority to get that going. We don’t want people to have to look back at how we handled this or any other crisis and say, “What were they thinking? Didn’t they already know that Jesus lives?” Yes, we do. So we will have peace! Amen.