Believe and Obey

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Receive, Then Give

Jesus With Us

The text the first week after Easter is always John 20:19-31.  This is mostly concerned with the story of Thomas, so-called “Doubting Thomas”.  There is another aspect to this story beyond that of the tale of Thomas, which is what I wish to focus on here.

The passage opens with the disciples locked in a house out of fear.  This is so much like us, even today.  We hide in ways real and figurative from the call of our Lord.  Yet, even when hiding Jesus finds us and comes to us.  Out of nowhere Jesus appears to those in hiding and offered them His peace.  He offers all of us His peace as well, even when we are in hiding.

How Will We Respond?

The reaction of the disciples was the kind of reaction our Lord would wish.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw Jesus.  Jesus then showed them His wounds and demonstrated to them that it was truly their Lord that stood before them.

Then Jesus breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit.  Then He gave them instructions “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” (Verse 23).  That is they are to go forward and give to others what they have received.  Proclaim the Good News, proclaim the Risen Lord, and forgive, then forgive some more.

Without going deep into the tale of Thomas and his “doubts”, it is important to note that we are like Thomas, we were not there when this happens.  We simply believe without benefit of the actual experience.  This does not lessen in any way the strength or reality of our faith, it simply, means that we are removed from the historical Jesus and presented with the Jesus of faith. 

However, the lesson of this passage still stands after all this time. Jesus has found us, even if we have been hiding.  He has found us in the people He has put in our lives and the many ways He is speaking to us, desperately wishing us to understand how much He loves us and wants a relationship with us.  We have received the Holy Spirit, and we must respond.  Our response should be guided by what Jesus taught here, that is go forth and give in the same manner as you have received.

So the takeaway is to keep your eyes, mind and heart open to the various ways Jesus is appearing to us today, the acts of witness, kindness and inclusion, as well as in the specific invitation to join Him and to receive the Holy Spirit.  Then go out and respond in kind.  You know the drill…believe, then obey.

Praise Be to God

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