The Holy Gospel according to St. John 20:19-31
20:19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 20:20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the
Lord. 20:21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." 20:22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." 20:24 But Thomas (who was
called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 20:25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." 20:26 A week later his disciples were
again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." 20:28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 20:29
Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." 20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 20:31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of
God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. This is the Gospel of the Lord! Praise to You O Christ.
The King of the Babylonians had
a problem with a Dream...
L. Hello Children, what did you learn in Sunday School this morning?
Isaiah. We learned the story about Nebuchadnezzar' . . . the King of the Babylonians who had a problem with a Dream that he had..
L. Oh My – a Dream Problem; (to the congregation) I've had a few of those myself Lately! . . , Well Dear, That certainly sounds interesting. What part of the story was your favorite part?
H. I liked it when Daniel told the King All About his Dream. There was this huge statue thing made out of all kinds of Metal and Clay -- it was kinda scary, . . . . but That Daniel is one smart Guy!
J. Yea, it was really cool when Daniel knew what King Nebuchadnezzar Dreamed about and what it all meant. Even though the King would not tell anyone what the dream was about -- Daniel Knew What It Was!
I. I'm not sure if that makes sense Jacob. How can someone know what a Dream is about if they don't know what it's about!??
H. This is Weird! ! I remember in the Story that the King told his Magicians and Sorcerers that they had to tell him what the Dream was about or else he was going to get rid of them. . . . Like they were just supposed to know it Supernaturally or something . . . (throw your hands up in the air)
J. Yea, But if they didn't know it – He was going to wipe them out!! Now That was Motivation!
I. I still don't get it. How can someone just know something if they don't even get a clue??
J. You don't have a clue about anything Isaiah!
I. Do so!
J. Do not!
L. Ok Children . . . no need to fight about the matter. I wonder if our Seminarian, Matthew, can explain how someone in the Bible like Daniel could know how to interpret the King's Dream when the King would not reveal what he saw or heard in the Dream?
M. Ahh, we haven't covered that part yet in Seminary!?! . . . . However, I'd venture a guess that it's got something to do with Faith! (That's usually the right answer in Theology class.) Seriously though, I think God has given us the story of Daniel so that we would have a Model of a Wise and Brave man who had Great Faith! Daniel
surely had to Trust completely and Rely -- solely on God for the Answer. Let's see what Pastor Jon thinks.
PJ. H'mm, Actually, I Like what Isaiah Said, it certainly seems like no one could know what a King might have dreamed about without some kind of clue or insight! . . . . However, . . . there could be another illustration that can help us -- kind of along the lines of what Matt was saying–It's really about Faith!
J. Do you think that God has to give somebody faith to know things that can't otherwise be known??
L. I think that is a very interesting question and it reminds me of the situation in our Gospel Lesson this morning. Wasn't there Something in there about Someone who did not believe??
H. Do you mean, like when Thomas didn't believe that the other Disciples had seen Jesus after the Lord had risen from the Dead??
PJ. Yea, that's exactly what I was thinking of Hannah. Thomas couldn't believe in what he couldn't see, touch, hear or smell.
I. Do you think Jesus Smelled after he was raised from the dead??
J. Isaiah, You're so gross! Be Serious!
I. I am Being Serious!!
J. You are Not
I. Am Too!
M. (clearing throat) Ahmughhm!! From Paul's Letter to the Romans we know that "... Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ." (Rm10:17) This is why we have to Listen when the Word is Preached and we need our Pastors and Priests to explain what the Word is saying – so we can understand God.
Then, Like Daniel, we can take his Wisdom into our Lives. It's why we always want to learn more and more and more--about Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit.
L. So, it seems that our Old Friend Doubting Thomas must have been hard of hearing – or Slow to Understand things.
I. (pulling his ear–use old lady voice--mocking Linda)
"Ahh, What's that you say Sonny Boy?"
L. Are you mocking me?
I. Ahh -- No . . . Ma'am!
L. I'll pull your Ear into the middle of next year young man!!
I. Sorry Mrs. Knox . . . I won't tease anymore.
J. So I guess we have two different Examples:
Faith and Non-Faith;
There was Daniel who believed that God would help him understand the Dream of Nebuchudnezzer -- without any idea how God would reveal what that was about.
Then, on the other hand, We have Thomas, who, although he was Hearing what the other Disciples were saying about Jesus–he just chose not to believe.
M. Thomas was a man that we might call a Skeptic. He doesn't want to believe something that he cannot have absolute proof of. There's nothing really wrong with that, accept when you're being selfish, and not wanting to believe, because To Believe means you may have to deny yourself.
H. Didn't Jesus say something about denying ourselves, Taking up the Cross and following him?
PJ. Yes, that's right Hannah, we all have to consider Jesus' call for us to serve him, and serving Jesus means we cannot always get what we want. But Using the Faith that God Gives us, We can Move Mountains!
I. Maybe this brings us back to Daniel again. He had to place his whole life in God's Hands.
J. Like when he told the King that he would interpret the Dream. That was heavy duty Trust in God! Because if he didn't get the Dream right, then he was going to pay with his life. Talk about Faith!!
L. So, why do you think Thomas kept Doubting? Even when all the Disciples and the women were telling him that Jesus really had Risen from the Dead?
M. Maybe Thomas wanted to believe it was true. But he had to be sure. He did not want to believe and then have his hope shattered. One thing we do know: Thomas did eventually see the Lord and when he heard Jesus invite him to touch the wounds from the Cross – Thomas would Never be the Same again! He fell right on his knees and
professed "My Lord and My God!" That was Faith at Work.
I. So, maybe it's not always a bad thing to not have faith?
J. But you have to have some! Like, if you hear the story about Jesus and don't take it into your heart or start to live differently because Jesus died for you or me . . . then I think God wouldn't like that too much.
H. I think Jesus loves us even when we don't believe. If he didn't truly love us I don't think he would have died on the cross.
M. Good point Hannah, Our faith teaches us that the Cross is the absolute Proof of God's Love and that our Salvation is complete, because Jesus died on the Cross. We come to Christ like little babies (EVEN WHEN WE'RE ADULTS), we don't have anything to give back to God–LIKE TO DESERVE HIS LOVE, but like a Loving Parent,
God is there to take us up into his arms and to give us his VERY Self -- IN JESUS. Believing this requires Faith, and That God Freely Give us too!
L. Hhmm, And to think that most of my life I have felt guilty that I could not do enough for God. I've always felt that being a Christian is like having to meet a Quota. Do enough Good Deeds, and Maybe . . . just Maybe -- you'll make it to the Pearly Gates.... I Sure Hope St. Peter's Got me on that list of his . . . (looking up),
"That's L. Knox, with a "K" St Peter . . . don't they teach you how to spell up there?"
PJ. Ok, I hope St. Paul will get St. Peter straightened out! . . .
I think that Jesus chose to reveal himself directly to Thomas after the others had already seen the Lord Because Jesus wanted for Thomas to wrestle with the whole Faith and Believing thing a bit more than the others. Most importantly for us-- is what we see in both stories. God acts first–Usually in ways that we could never predict
or imagine -- Not Even in our Wildest Dreams!!!
Like requiring Daniel to know a Dream without even a minute detail to work from. Or for Thomas to believe Jesus is Risen from the Dead . . . After all, it had only been a few days after Thomas saw his Lord brutally Crucified and buried in a tomb. It Seemed there was absolutely no Hope!
I. God sure works in mysterious Ways!
L. I agree, God is not one we can easily understand, and yet, over my life-time I have seen so many miracles–things that I could never have Dreamed of both good and bad – but the Lord has still carried me through and given me faith each step of the way!
M. God is faithful to us, even when we're not. This really sums up the Word of the Gospel. God pursues us when we're not looking for him. God believes in us, even when we don't believe in him. God loves us even when we don't love him in return. God waits when we're impatient.
PJ. But what a Celebration takes place in Heaven when we do turn from our own ways and seek the Lord! The Angels rejoice greatly when we do believe and respond to Jesus call. That's a great thing about our faith in Jesus.
J. I want to always serve the Lord and I hope he will lead me and guide me each step of the way.
H. I want to believe and have great faith like Daniel! . . . .
I. Me too! I hope I'll be able to rise to every challenge life brings and do the right thing for God.
PJ. Let us say a Prayer Together:
All. Lord Jesus, help us to always seek your Face in all we do and in all we say. May you be Glorified in our Lives. For you are Holy and, by Faith, We place our Lives in your Hands. Amen!