Overarching theme: Living a year in God’s presence through the practice of following Jesus.
Core Point: We all have questions about God, Jesus, grace, etc. This week, we focus on why believe in Jesus the Christ?
Start point: The Gospel of John was the last narrative written out of the four Gospels, sometime after 70 A.D. and before 90 A.D. The Gospel narratives were probably written to help people remember the story from actual witnesses. Most likely, decades after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the stories about Jesus had morphed into half-truths. Each Gospel had many similar stories but with a unique perspective from the eye witness. The Gospel of John emphasized Jesus as the Christ and Son of God. The people that received this writing were Christians who were struggling with the influence of the Jews who did not see Jesus as the Christ. So, the writer was encouraging them to see Jesus as the divine one who came from God the Father. The first chapter highlights the idea that Jesus was preexistent (verses 1:1-14). Through the whole Gospel of John, Jesus is referred to as the divine one.
Reflect on this Scripture:
John 20:19-28 (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.” Jesus and Thomas 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), 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!”
Questions to Ponder:
What jumps out at you in the text?
How did the disciples recognize that Jesus was in their midst?
What did Jesus share with the disciples? Why?
What do you think it did for Thomas to be able to touch the scars of Jesus?
How do you interpret what Jesus said about forgiveness?
Jesus presents himself before his disciples. Many times, when an angel, or Jesus, is present, the words “peace be with you” are spoken. For those who encounter the Spirit and Jesus, fear grips them because they may not truly grasp what is happening at the time. Maybe you have had a spiritual encounter that seemed unsettling? At any rate, the times were unsettling for the disciples as they were locked in a room. They were afraid that the Jewish authorities were going to go after the Jesus followers, like they did Jesus. Life was on the line. They had been following Jesus, who they thought was going to bring back the power and prominence of Jerusalem again. They still did not get that Jesus was going to establish a new spiritual covenant that would lead to followers living eternally with God, and enjoying the power of God in their midst on earth. So why Jesus? It was through the power of God working in the death and resurrection of Jesus that we find a renewed relationship with God, forgiveness of sin/self-centeredness, and hope for the journey of life.
The disciples got to touch the scars of Jesus before Thomas did. During the second appearance, when Jesus appeared before Thomas, and Thomas got to touch Jesus, the life of Thomas was changed. The work of God became completely real for Thomas and the disciples when they touched the nail holes in his body. Jesus said he would die and be raised to life, and he was. What Jesus said was true, and it is evident that God is still working. That is why Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.” The realness of Christ became stronger than ever. At that moment, Thomas realized, a spiritual reality, that the spirit of God was real in the life of Jesus the Christ, who came to save the world, not just the nation of Israel. In this, Jesus came to glorify God in all He did. Through Jesus, the spirit of God is breathed on the disciples to give them strength and companionship for the expansion of the Kingdom of God.
Remember 1 John 4:9, “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.”
John 3:16, 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
The reality is that through Jesus we find salvation/eternal life, and life with God here on earth. In Jesus, we find a lifestyle that seeks to build up those around us as we walk in the manner of Jesus’ humility and example.
I appreciate when someone goes on a diet. They work really hard on losing those unwanted pounds. When the goal is reached, then the diet stops. The problem is that when the diet is over, the old eating habits come back along with the pounds. It is being proven that a lifestyle change in eating is the most effective. For the Christian, we are not called to do a couple of good things that we think will make an impact. As Christians, we are called to a lifestyle change that will lead to a lifelong impact in our world for God.
Questions to Ponder:
Why Jesus for you?
Do you have a lifestyle that will led to a lifelong impact for God? Why or why not?
How are you doing with the forgiving others?
Activity of for the life of a disciple:
1. Write on a piece of paper: “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9).” Place it somewhere for you to read it every day.
2. Think on and practice one thing every day that you can do that would help you make an impact in the world for God.