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What Are These Other Signs?

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The Often Overlooked

The text for this Second Sunday of Easter, as always, is John 20:19-31.  This is, of course, the story of “Doubting Thomas”.  This story is as familiar as an old blanket.  This is also the story of the Apostles hiding out in a locked room.  Much has been written about these two aspects of this passage, including by me.  Since it is the same text in all three Lectionary Cycle Years. I will this year focus on Verses 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 author is pointing to a very real thing.  This book, the Bible, does not contain all that Jesus did or said.  We, as Christians, believe that this book is sacred and inspired by God.  It is a gift, that details for us the proclamation that God’s word is true, the resurrection is real, and that Jesus Christ is Lord.  This is what is meant by Verse 31.  The bible is not itself the Good News.  The Good News is that He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!  The bible is the container into which the Good News has been placed.  Martin Luther analogized it to a cradle holding a child.  The child being Christ and the cradle being the bible.  So, what are we to make of Verse 30 and these other signs?

The Bigger Picture

Long ago I learned from my pastor that the word of God is more than just the bible.  It is what is communicated in sermons, it is what is transmitted in study groups and formal classroom study.  It is, in fact all that we think, say and do.  This verse, so often overlooked, reminds us of this.  All that Jesus did in His earthly ministry were signs and acts of love, forgiveness, and grace.

Since we are to emulate Jesus as best, we humanly can, we should take Verse 30-31 seriously.  We should remember that God’s work is not limited to memorizing, and reciting scripture.  All that we do in this world has an impact, and all that we do can be about communicating the word of God in this world.  We should strive to live a life filled with so many signs of God that they cannot be contained in a book!

This can be any act of kindness, or service.  It may be as simple as a wave to a neighbor, or an invitation to someone often overlooked.  It may be more “formal” ministry or just smiling and asking how someone is today.  It might even mean letting someone cut in front of you on the way to work (although I know how great a sacrifice that is!).  The important thing to keep in mind is that most people will not be diving deep into scripture.  They will most likely experience God’s Grace through what His followers say, and do.  There is no end to the ways we can proclaim the all-encompassing love of God to those God places in our lives.  Our lives are our ministry, and one will never know what will grow from the seed of a grace filled act, or how permanently someone will be turned away from our failing to remember this.

Yes, Holy Scripture is the “official” record of what God has done for us through His son Jesus the Christ.  However, we should never be limited to just that.  Ours should be a life fueled by our responding to God’s good and gracious word , and then using that as a springboard to use everything we do as a means of communicating the joy that God has given us.  John 19:30-31 gives us scriptural support for taking this expansive view of God’s Word.  Use that as a launch pad to believe, then obey.

Praise Be to God

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