April 27, 2003

John 20:19-31

Later on that [resurrection] day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you." Then he showed them his hands and side.

The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: "Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you."

They he took a deep breath and breathed into them. "Receive the Holy Spirit," he said. "If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?"

But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, "We saw the Master."

But he said, "Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won't believe it."

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you."

Then he focused his attention on Thomas. "Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don't be unbelieving. Believe."

Thomas said, "My Master! My God!"

Jesus said, "So, you believe because you've seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing."

Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.

[The Message]


1. We are facing a new creation with Jesus' resurrection. We don't get any new species or dramatic change in the old species. We are still humans, creatures. We are still created good and we still sin.

The Christian Community Bible comments, "The capacity to forgive is the only power able to release the great tensions within humankind. Although it does not easily conquer hearts, it is an invaluable secret and the Church should consider it as its own particular treasure."

Is this a secret to be told and revealed or kept for utilitarian purposes and used when it is to our advantage?

2. A sign of the new creation is not just new rules, but an appreciation of the role of doubt and curiosity within life. Fear and doubt are qualities we lock up and shut in to ourselves so we won't be challenged to that most difficult of work - changed living in the present to arrive at a desired future.

It is almost as if fear and doubt were valuable treasures. Why else lock them in? Blessed be GOD in Christ who will not be sealed out by our locks or inability to turn a handle from our side of the door. (This is a wonderful counter to the picture of Christ knocking at the door and the whole responsibility is ours to keep him locked out or not.)

3. Usually in the NRSV and NIV we get competing translations. What one uses as the main text and footnotes as alternative the other turns around and has the footnote as their main text and the other's main text as their footnote. In this case they both have John being written "that you may come to believe." The footnote in both cases notes that John was written "that you may continue to believe."

Does it make a difference for you which of these orientations you live out of? Is John an evangelistic tool for others or re-enforcement for your experience of being part of a larger community that is not afraid to not only receive Peace, but to be a sign of that Peace in the midst of the world?