Saturday, April 30, 2011

So What?

Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!
He is risen, indeed.  Alleluia!

But so what?

Shortly before Jesus went to Jerusalem to die, after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, we hear about Thomas the apostle.
John 11:3-16
So the sisters sent a messenger to tell Jesus, “Lord, your close friend is sick.” When Jesus heard the message, he said, “His sickness won’t result in death. Instead, this sickness will bring glory to God so that the Son of God will receive glory through it.” Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. Yet, when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days.

Then, after the two days, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, not long ago the Jews wanted to stone you to death. Do you really want to go back there?” Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day don’t stumble, because they see the light of this world. However, those who walk at night stumble because they have no light in themselves.” After Jesus said this, he told his disciples, “Our friend Lazarus is sleeping, and I’m going to Bethany to wake him.”

His disciples said to him, “Lord, if he’s sleeping, he’ll get well.” Jesus meant that Lazarus was dead, but the disciples thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was only sleeping. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, but I’m glad that I wasn’t there so that you can grow in faith. Let’s go to Lazarus.” Thomas, who was called Didymus, said to the rest of the disciples, “Let’s go so that we, too, can die with Jesus.”

1) Didymus means twin. Do you know what happened when Jesus and the disciples got to Bethany, where Lazarus had lived?

2) What do you think of Thomas?

John 20:19-31
That Sunday evening, the disciples were together behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jews. Jesus stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you!” When he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were glad to see the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” After he had said this, he breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whenever you forgive sins, they are forgiven. Whenever you don’t forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Thomas, one of the twelve apostles, who was called Didymus, wasn’t with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord.” Thomas told them, “I refuse to believe this unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my fingers into them, and put my hand into his side.”

A week later Jesus’ disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Take your hand, and put it into my side. Stop doubting, and believe.”

Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to Thomas, “You believe because you’ve seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me but believe.”
Doubting Thomas, painting by Caravaggio (1602-03), oil on canvas. Sanssouci, Potsdam

3) What do you think of Thomas and what he said?

We’ll read an account of this night from The Robe, which is about a Roman soldier who was in charge of crucifying Jesus.

4) What would it have been like to be there?

5) Jesus died to save us from our sins. His death bought our forgiveness. But why was He resurrected? Why not just die and go to heaven?

1st Corinthians 15:12-23
If we have told you that Christ has been brought back to life, how can some of you say that coming back from the dead is impossible? If the dead can’t be brought back to life, then Christ hasn’t come back to life. If Christ hasn’t come back to life, our message has no meaning and your faith also has no meaning. In addition, we are obviously witnesses who lied about God because we testified that he brought Christ back to life. But if it’s true that the dead don’t come back to life, then God didn’t bring Christ back to life. Certainly, if the dead don’t come back to life, then Christ hasn’t come back to life either. If Christ hasn’t come back to life, your faith is nonsense and sin still has you in its power. Then those who have died as believers in Christ no longer exist. If Christ is our hope in this life only, we deserve more pity than any other people.

But now Christ has come back from the dead. He is the very first person of those who have died to come back to life. Since a man brought death, a man also brought life back from death. As everyone dies because of Adam, so also everyone will be made alive because of Christ. This will happen to each person in his own turn. Christ is the first, then at his coming, those who belong to him will be made alive.

6) Why would there have been people who said coming back to life is impossible? Are there people like that today?

7) What does Paul say about why was Jesus resurrected?

8) Jot down: what difference does it make to you that Jesus was resurrected?

Photo Credits: ChicagoGeek@Flickr, Wikimedia Commons
EDIT:  Must-read sermon from Doubting Pastor Nadia on this gospel. Prepare for the God who busts in through locked doors!

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