John 20:19-31New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin[a]), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah,[c] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name

May God bless to our understanding the words that we hear today

Today is one of the things that I love about the church year…just when we think that we only get one week, one Sunday to celebrate Easter, we are reminded that we actually get 7 weeks.  7 weeks to think about and remember and contemplate and act on the Good News of Resurrection Day. We are reminded that Easter isn’t just an event, it is a state of the heart, a state of mind, it is why we are who we are, it is why we live the way we do, why we make the decisions that we make

Today is the second Sunday in the Easter season and the scripture lesson that we heard is a wonderful reminder to us that Jesus is not finished yet; it is a sign to us that the work of the church has just barely begun. On this second Sunday of Easter, we hear the words of assurance that bring us joy…He is Risen (He is risen indeed

Will you pray with me please?  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen

Today’s writings from John are enough to make your head explode.  There is so much good stuff in it…Jesus appearing to the disciples through locked doors, a little mini-Pentecost with Jesus blowing the Holy Spirit on the gathered disciples, good old Thomas and his doubts, Jesus’ not so gentle rebuke of “Blessed are those who believe and have not seen” … I mean really there are at least 500 hours’ worth of sermons here, but what caught my eye this week were the last two verses in this very long selection, “Then Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. 31 But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name.”

I hadn’t thought that much about this statement before, but it was brought up in Bible Study a few weeks ago too and as we talked about it together I realized that I was a little irritated about the fact that there was a bunch of other stuff that happened that John didn’t tell us about. And I don’t know about you, but I want to know what they are!  I want more knowledge and understanding. I feel like I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure out, to understand this whole Jesus thing, to understand more about what it means to be a Christian and now I read that John says there was more stuff. What if this was exactly the stuff I needed to make everything about Christianity and faith clear? If there was more, why not tell us? What’s up with that John?

Whats up is that John is making it clear for us that he took specific selections from Jesus’ life and recorded them for us for a specific purpose and it is on us to believe, to stop messing around and get going with our faith and our ministry.

John, in his usual wordy and theological way is telling us that yes, there are more things, more signs, more teachings that I could tell you about, but I have recorded the things that you need to know about. I have written about works and signs that tell you about Jesus, his character, his power and when you read all these things, it should be enough, enough for you to believe that Jesus was the Christ, and that he was and is the One and Only Son of God.

.I am always intrigued by Johns writings because we believe that he is the only one of the four gospel writers who was actually there, he is the disciple who along with Peter and James is mentioned most often in the other gospel stories. he had a ringside seat for the majority of Jesus ministry, but unlike the other gosples there is nothing in his writings about Christ's birth, nothing in it about His baptism, or about the selection of His disciples. There is scarcely anything about the facts of Jesus' life at all. There is barely a word about His ministry in Galilee. There is very little about Jesus’ moral teaching he does not retell any of the parables and only mentions 7 of the 35 recorded miracles found in the other gospels.

Nearly half of John’s gospel is about the things which took place in the last week of Jesus' life, and the incidents of and after His Resurrection. The other half of his writing recounts several conversations which are based on the 7 miracles and John tells us that he only wrote about those seven events for us to read so that we can believe. 

Really? I’m supposed to believe all these incredible things about Jesus based on 7 signs?  I can find more signs to make me believe on the internet! Just yesterday I read about a woman in Florida who found a cross and a crown imprinted into her gold fish cracker that she knows is a sign from God…Someone else found the face of Jesus in their grilled cheese sandwich and yet another person had a Jesus shaped potato chip!  He was also seen in pancakes, a banana peel and Cheetos All signs of God I am sure!

What John is trying to get us to understand is that it is not the signs that are important, all of the miracles and parables in John’s mind they aren’t important, those are just things that Jesus did in order to help us to believe who he was.  What is important to John isn’t the miracles or parables or other signs, it is that Jesus is the son of God and we need to understand that the most important purpose Jesus had was to represent a new revelation of God for us. Jesus’s purpose was to bring us back to God, Jesus’s purpose was to help us to understand that it is not hard to have a relationship with God because God longs to have a relationship with us we just need to be available to let it happen, that a relationship with God is begins with the simple premise of love, that all we have to do is love God and love our neighbor.

I think that John understands far better than the other Gospel writers and even better than we do that the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection was not all about Jesus.  Everything that Jesus did, every parable that he told, every miracle he performed, he did so we could understand the amazing and all-consuming love that God has for us.  Even now, as we celebrate the season of Christ’s resurrection it is with the knowledge and understanding that Jesus didn’t make that happen on his own.  God did it just like Jesus told us God would and the message that we need to hear today is that if God raised Jesus from death into life, God will do the same for us.

So, while I may have started out feeling irritated with John for not sharing all of the secrets with us, for not telling us the things that would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the Son of God, I realize that is exactly the point he is trying to make…Jesus does not have to prove anything to us, he was exactly who he said he was, he told parables and performed miracles so that we could understand, not to make us believe but so that we could believe.

The love of Jesus, the love that God has for us has never been about forcing us to love them; it has always been about acceptance, God’s acceptance of us as perfectly imperfect people and our acceptance of that love that is so freely and generously given. That is the message that John was trying to get us to hear, God loves us so much that God sent Jesus to earth to help us return to God. Jesus died in order for God to provide the ultimate miracle, the ultimate sign of love, the victory of life over death. 

So, who cares if John didn’t share all of the stories with us?  He recorded the most important part of the message, for us to hear and believe and celebrate for 50 days.  God loves us, God, loves us, God loves us! Hallelujah, Amen.