Welcome to Episode #76 of the Sunday Scripture Podcast!
John 20: 19-31 Common English Bible (CEB)
19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”
24 Thomas, the one called Didymus,[a] one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.”
26 After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!”
28 Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.”
30 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.
Three Points of Discussion
Quote #1 - Of all the characters Jesus meets in the post-resurrection world of John’s Gospel, none has left a stronger mark on the imagination of Western Christianity than Thomas. We love him. He is the incredulous non-believer who hides inside every believing Christian—the questioner in us that resists easy answers to hard questions of faith, who always wants a little more proof. In the annals of Christian theology, there are numerous accounts of why Thomas doubts, each reflecting the skeptical impulses of the era in which they arose. In the early church, doubters questioned whether God, as eternal and divine, could die and still be God, and Thomas bore the weight of those Trinitarian debates. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 14096-14101). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition
Quote #2 - A chronic temptation for the church is to stay behind closed doors. In the experience of the Western church since the advent of the modern world, enlightenment pressures have conspired with this perennial temptation to place the church squarely behind the closed door of the private and personal domain. Behind this door are found the personal, spiritual, and familial dilemmas that occupy humans in their private existence. The message of the gospel is taken seriously and with some urgency behind this door, with the prospect of healing and wholeness embraced enthusiastically for this area of life. On the other side of that door stand the public and social worlds that occupy humans when they venture forth from “home.” Beyond that door are found the economic, political, and civic realities that occupy people most of their waking hours. Here the gospel’s promise is scarcely acknowledged or, if glimpsed, is deemed out of place. Ironically, even in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when Western Christians undertook to bear the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth, they tended to share a gospel that stays behind these same closed doors. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 14143-14151). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Quote #3 - The Easter miracle of John 20:19–31, and the homiletical heart of this lesson, is that Jesus comes again and again to these scared and confused disciples. The disciples have not warranted a second visit by Jesus, but they get one, and a renewed gift of his peace (v. 26). Thomas is given exactly what he has requested—a chance to see and touch Jesus for himself. Importantly, the story does not tell us that Thomas did touch Jesus, because Thomas touching Jesus is beside the point. The point is Jesus’ offer of himself, over and over again, to people who long to see him. With no questions asked, Jesus offers himself and gives the repeated gift of his presence and his peace. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 14261-14265). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
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