May 16, 2021

My Lord and My God 11-04-2021

11th April 2021
Second Sunday of Easter
Title: My Lord and My God
(Scripture Readings: John 20:19-31, Acts 4:32-35)
By Heeyoung Lim

The risen Christ is with us! The body of Jesus was not in the tomb, but the risen Christ has come to us. Whenever we are looking for Jesus, He comes to us wherever we are.
Jesus went back to Galilee where Jesus spent most of his time with His disciples. He returned to His betrayers. Jesus returns to us. The good news was that Jesus not only rose from the dead, but he was seen in bodily form afterwards. The risen Christ keeps coming to us, calling us as His Easter community of believers.
In today’s text, we see the followers of Jesus gathered behind locked doors full of fear, but then the risen Christ came to them. They did not come to Him; He came to them first. The risen Christ is coming to us and wanting us to live God’s ways of love, peace, and justice. We are never alone for the risen Christ will never leave us nor forsake us. We have Easter hope because Jesus has risen, and he loves us no matter what.
Who is Jesus? Our living Lord has conquered both sin and death. Our resurrected Jesus said to the troubled disciples, “Peace be with you!” when he first appeared to the group. He had promised to relieve the disciples’ grief by replacing it with joy in John 16:20; His promise has been fulfilled. Jesus offered them peace in place of fear; He showed them his hands and his side, and they knew He is Jesus. 
He also said to them, “I am sending you” and “Receive the Holy Spirit”. Jesus gave His disciples ‘Peace’, ‘mission’, and ‘the Holy Spirit’ in their times between the resurrection and the ascension. Sending disciples and giving responsibility are gifts bestowed along with the Spirit itself. Jesus has equipped us with peace and the Holy Spirit before He sends us on His mission field.
In verse 23, “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” If Jesus came to take away the sin of the world (1:29), disciples would continue the work of forgiving and peace-making through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
The disciples were fearful despite what Peter and John had seen and what Mary had reported. The Lord appeared to offer them His peace which is totally different with worldly peace before they could respond. The peace Jesus gave would enable them to go out. As God sent Jesus, he sent them into the world. The locked door could not stop the resurrection body of Jesus, it was nothing to our Lord. He showed them the nail prints in his hands and the spear scar in his side. The disciples saw and met the resurrected Jesus who died now living again and standing before them. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
But Thomas who was absent then said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Thomas doubted even though other disciples said to Thomas “We have seen the Lord!” He did not believe them. There would be mistrust between disciples.
A week later, in spite of locked doors, Jesus appeared and greeted them exactly as he had a week earlier. Jesus said again, “Peace be with you,” The Lord’s peace was related to individual’s inner peace and a community’s reconciliation at the same time; The peace within the community which needs to be one is significant. The evidence of the crucifixion continues in the resurrected body of Jesus.
Jesus did not scold Thomas or condemn his hesitation. He provided the evidence only then did He say to him, “Stop doubting and believe”. (26) Jesus gave doubting Thomas a second chance and Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God” And Jesus replied to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” God has given us the chance to be blessed by our faith. The disciples rejoiced, but Thomas’ response was praise. Praise and glory be to our God. Their joy was not an end, it needed to be continued to the glory of God.
He is our Lord and our God. He is alive. Jesus is coming to us first even when we are in the darkness with grief, depression, and frustration. He is giving us His peace, new mission with the guidance of the Holy Spirit after He breaks through our locked door. He is sending us out to the world in the power of Lord’s resurrection. Jesus wants us to become the Easter community which is a peaceful and Spirit-filled church with great joy. When it comes to spiritual truth, we need to be prepared to believe what we have not seen.
We are invited to trust our risen Jesus without seeing. We can overcome our trouble and suffering in the power of our Lord’s resurrection knowing the ultimate victory is His and ours. I hope and pray the transformation of fear into joy will be happening in our lives.
We can say to Jesus, “My Lord and my God” and believe in Jesus together hoping the unity of the church in Jesus. Jesus’ resurrection is not just a one-time event, the living risen Christ is the Centre of our lives and our faith community. What does the full acknowledgement of the resurrection mean? It means taking our eyes off the empty tomb and placing them on the Lord. Let us allow the resurrected Lord to handle our hesitation to obey Him in everything.
The living risen Christ is the Centre of the church’s creed. In Acts 2:43-47 & 4:32-35, Luke emphasized the unity of the church and added a message about its generosity in chapter 4. Early Christians were clearly united in their heart and mind. They were united, unselfish, and unafraid because they were witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were generous and shared everything they had.
In verse 33, with great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s grace was so powerfully working in them all. Early Christians knew what God expected of them and put their possession at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Money is not evil, but 1Timothy 6:10 proclaims that the love of money is the root of all evil. Hebrew 13:5 also says, “keep your lives free from the love of money”. The love of God was clearly displayed in their sharing of possessions. That is why “there was not a needy person among them” as in verse 35.
How might our church itself be an example that encourages faith? How do we embody the message of Jesus by our lives? We can share generously what God has given us, especially to those who need help. We can move forward with love to what Jesus wants us to do by looking at our resurrected Lord and taking care of each other.
Today’s text portrays the risen Jesus in all the abundance of His grace, but many individuals and congregations are back behind closed doors in their lives. I hope we can widely open our doors for Jesus even though He can pass through the closed doors repeatedly.
John invites us to see the life Jesus has given to the world in the life of wounds and pains. The risen Christ appears to us in God’s ways; He is giving us comfort and peace in our lives. Our pain and sorrow may turn into joy in the power of the Lord’s resurrection.
Jesus revealed himself by showing His wounded but living body to His disciples and people. We are OK in Jesus even when our weakness and wounded part are revealed to our extended family of Leighmoor and others just like Jesus because Jesus will make it possible for us to continue His work of sharing peace, forgiving sins, and giving love.
I believe that the Easter miracle is already happening in our lives in the power of resurrected Christ. I am sure Jesus is looking lovingly at our church members. The risen Christ is giving us His peace, comfort, and joy. I hope and pray that we can spread the gospel with joy and share God’s love with generosity to others. The risen Christ comes to us and walks along with us each step!

Thanks be to God! Amen!
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)