The lectionary suggests for this coming Sunday we look at John Chapter 20: 19-31, which appropriately begins with the news that the disciples were all together in lockdown. The door was locked but not because of government guidelines but rather self-imposed through fear for their own safety. When Jesus arrives, he finds his followers afraid and uncertain and he offers them a Promise of release and a Plan of attack.
In verses 19-21 he offers three areas of hope: Firstly he begins by saying ‘ Peace be with you’, then he shows them proof that he was alive (‘After he had said this he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.’) and finally Jesus gives them a new perspective (‘As the Father has sent me, I am sending you’)
Did you notice in the reading that Peace was offered twice? We too can experience the reality of God’s peace transcending even our worst circumstances. As well as peace Jesus offered proof that he was alive, and we need to embrace the encouragement of knowing Jesus for real. In verses 24-29 we read that Thomas eventually knew Jesus for real, but he took a different route to the others.
Then in verse 21 the disciples are given a perspective which did not focus on their situation but upon the plan that God had for their lives to reach out into the community and share the gospel, the good news. After the promise of release from their current predicament Jesus went on to suggest a Plan of attack:
Verses 22-23 shows us that the perspective is achieved through receiving the breath of the Holy Spirit to empower them and the ability to proclaim kingdom principles and values to the world.
Those of you who know me will have noticed the alliteration bullet points: Peace, Proof, Perspective, Purpose, Power and Proclaim. All of these are encapsulated in verse 30&31, ‘Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name’ The good news is that this promise of release and plan of attack was for everyone who believes not just for the disciples.
I find it helpful to sing hymns to God but prefer to sing with a congregation rather than on my own. This week I have found myself singing a simple but very profound song, please feel free to sing yourself.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
look full into his wonderful face,
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
in the light of his glory and grace.
I have a sneaky feeling that it exactly what the disciples of Jesus did in John 20: 19-31.
Are you going to do the same?