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230416 Easter 2A Acts 2.14a, 22-32 Psalm 16, 1 Peter 1.1-12 John 20:1-31

+ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Reading today of the Acts of the apostles introduces us to a new Peter. Humble but bold. His confidence came from the Holy Spirit who made him a powerful and dynamic speaker to tell people why they should listen to the testimonies of eyewitness believers because prophesies had been fulfilled and the risen Christ could change their lives. Peter began with a public proclamation of the resurrection at a time when it could be verified by many witnesses. This was a powerful statement, because many of the people listening to Peter’s words had been in Jerusalem 50 days earlier at Passover and may have seen or heard about the crucifixion and resurrection of this “great teacher”. The people listening to Peter’s speech would also have been familiar with the prophesies concerning the messiah, especially psalm 16 considered to be a Messianic psalm because it is quoted in the New Testament as referring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ resurrection was the ultimate sign that what he said about himself was true. Without the resurrection, we would have no reason to believe in Jesus.

We have lived through recalling the passion of Jesus and heard the story on two levels with the words of love and glory overarching the reality of a story of humiliation and hatred. We heard the contrast between human and divine and humiliation and death versus the exaltation and life in the manifestation of love between God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. We witness with the disciples the trust Jesus has in the Father and that Jesus has achieved that for which he has come into the world. Jesus with his unique power over life and death, surrendered his own life only to give the gift of life through giving up his Spirit, and ultimately giving the Spirit to all who believe.

Blood and water are symbols of life through the gospel story and remind us that Jesus’ death is life-giving, the foundation and source of our life and salvation. This is the reason that the risen Christ appears to the disciples with his wounds intact. His death is the source of life.

Jesus in the appearance after his resurrection described in today’s portion of John’s gospel, identified himself with his Father. He told the disciples by whose authority he did his work. Then he passed the job of spreading the gospel of salvation around the world, to his disciples. He breathed on them asking them to receive the Holy Spirit. This may have been a special filling of the Holy Spirit for the disciples, a foretaste of what all believers would experience from the time of Pentecost { Acts 2} and forever after. But we are left wondering, as nothing momentous follows. To do God’s work guidance is needed and power of the Holy Spirit is also needed. There is life in the breath of God. In the story of creation, created human beings came alive being different from other forms of creation through the breath of God. Now through the breath of Jesus, God imparted eternal spiritual life. With this inbreathing came the power to do God’s will on earth. Jesus was giving the disciples their Spirit-powered and Spirit guided mission – to preach the Good News about Jesus’ death and resurrection so that through belief, people’s sins might be forgiven. The forgiveness of sin can be announced with certainty when we find repentance and faith or as we understand from John’s Gospel, by believing.

So, what about Thomas? Jesus wasn’t hard on Thomas for his doubts. Despite being skeptical, Thomas was still loyal to the believers and to Jesus himself. Some people need to doubt before they believe. If doubt leads to questions, questions lead to answers, and the answers are accepted, the doubt has done good work. It is when doubt becomes stubbornness and stubbornness becomes a life-style that doubt harms faith. Can we allow any doubts to deepen our faith as we continue to search for the answers?

When we think about Jesus showing Thomas his wounds, we realise that Jesus’ resurrected body was unique. It was not the same kind of flesh and blood Lazarus had when he came back to life. Jesus’ body was no longer subject to the same laws of nature as before his death. He could appear in a locked room, yet he was not a ghost or apparition because he could be touched and could eat. Jesus’ resurrection was literal and physical. He was not a disembodied spirit.

Some people think they would believe in Jesus if they could see a definite sign or miracle. But Jesus says we are blessed if we can believe without seeing. John’s gospel tells us that Jesus acts differently toward those who struggle with faith, as opposed to those who reject it outright. Believing needs to grow through experience. In those who truly desire to believe, John tells us that Jesus is patient and understanding, leading the believer to deeper levels of believing.

We all have the proof we need in the words of the eyewitnesses in the Bible and the testimony of believers. A physical appearance would not make Jesus any more real to us than he is now as he dwells in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. John tells us that his gospel records only a few of the many events in Jesus’ life on earth. But the gospel includes everything we need to know to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God through whom we receive eternal life.

Can we remember that Jesus was sent to do the Father’s will and in doing this he abides in the Father and his love for the Father is the basis of his identity and mission. The Holy Spirit is part of the same circle of love and friendship that gives meaning to life.

We have been given a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Jesus calls us all as his disciples to enter the divine circle of love and meaning which opens the way to the Father’s love and life. This discipleship encourages us to worship, to restfully abide, to meditate, and find the unconditional love of God in our local community of faith. As beloved disciples and friends of Jesus believers are called to share in the same love as the original disciples, and to enter the divine life and meaning that lie at the heart of God the creator, redeemer and life giver of the universe.

Amen.

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