Empowerment April 28, 2019

FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY

2ND SUNDAY OF EASTER

COLOR: WHITE OR GOLD 

SUNDAY APRIL 28TH 2019 

TEXTS: JOHN 20: 19 – 31

THEME: EMPOWERMENT

It has been over a week since Jesus resurrection took place. The stories of his resurrection are spreading and he was appearing to different groups. The disciples were not yet sure of their safety and therefore they stayed very much indoors. The fear was real in that they were afraid that the Romans will be after them as well as the Jewish religious leaders. On this one evening the disciples were in the house while the doors were still locked then Jesus to show up. As expected, the disciples were surprised and at the same time there was joy to see their master alive. Jesus offers peace to them. We have to also realize that the atmosphere in Jerusalem following the crucifixion of Jesus was very tense. People never knew who the Jewish rulers and the Romans will be after. People were keeping to themselves and maybe avoiding any big public gathering that would attract attention from the authorities of their presence. By Jesus showing up to the disciples we can learn the following faith lessons:

  • Jesus Brings Peace (Shalom): Anybody reading this passage would clearly see the importance of Jesus offering peace to his disciples and other believers gathered in this locked house. One, Jesus needed to calm their fears. Remember they were fearful of the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman authorities coming after them. So, Jesus needed to give them the human assurance. Second, people were afraid of this person (Maybe a ghost) that comes in when the doors are still locked. Could he be a ghost or something they don’t understand? Jesus calmed them by making sure they recognize who he was by showing them his scars on his hands, his feet and on the side. Third, Jesus offered them spiritual peace. This is the peace that passes all understanding. Jesus is telling them that in the midst of chaos God is able to offer peace. God does not disappear when there is chaos, hardship, even persecution. Jesus say “I will be with you always. God is an Omnipresent God. He is forever present. God in the first place he created the world from the chaos. Jesus is inviting the disciples to accept the peace that passes all understanding. In other words, God was offering shalom to his people.
  • Jesus Brings Joy: Th Greek word for Joy is (chara) feeling of inner gladness. Delight or rejoicing. Feeling that is happy. It is inner gladness or a deeper-seated pleasure. Joy is more than happiness. Happiness often evokes visions like unwrapping a Christmas gift, going to theater to see a comedian show, walking holding hands with the love on. This kind of happiness depends on circumstances and therefore the question becomes what happens when circumstances change? When the toy rust, the loved one dies our health deteriorates and money stolen, then happiness disappears and despair sets in. In contrast with happiness is joy. It is hard to maintain happiness because it is determined by circumstances. Joy runs deeper and stronger, joy is quiet, confidence assurance of God’s love and work in our lives that he will be there no matter what. Happiness depends on happenings but joy depends on Christ. It is the emotions within us that make us feel good in what we are doing or involved in. Our acts are no longer a chore when we have the joy of the Lord. There are couple of verses in the bible the tell us what Joy is: Nehemiah 8:10bThe joy of the LORD is your strength”, Proverbs 15:30a “Cheerful look brings joy to the heart”, Isaiah 65:14 My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts” John 15:11 “…..and that their joy may be complete…” By Jesus coming to the disciples his presence brings joy to the disciples. He was bringing back to them the love of being able to serve God no matter the circumstances that life throws at them. He was telling the disciple they need to have joy as they carry on their everyday task.
  • Jesus Commission Them: Jesus reminds the disciples once more that he was sent by his father to do his will. And in turn Jesus was sending them forth to go and made more believers. For one to go on a mission there has to be a mission sender. Our mission sender his Christ Jesus. We go to the world to evangelize in the name of Jesus. Jesus had earlier sent them out two by two. When they went out, they accomplished so much that they cam back full of joy. Luke 10:17 “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Jesus is in our midst today looking for someone to send for his work. We sing one of my favorite Methodist hymnals (UMH # 593) titled “Here I am Lord” God ask his people whom shall I send? And we all respond, “Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go Lord, If you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.” This is a very powerful response to Jesus commissioning us
  • Jesus Restores Faith: There is always a little Thomas (doubt) in each one of us. It is very easy to condemn Thomas for not believing what the disciples were telling him about the risen Lord. But why did Peter and John not believe the story of the women who went to the grave and saw it empty? Why did they have to run there to confirm? They did not stay long enough to see the risen Lord. It was again Mary Magdalene who stayed long enough to meet the risen Lord and came back to report to the disciples. The disciples going to Emmaus were dismissing the women story of the risen Lord to Jesus (They thought he was a stranger at this point). When Jesus came the first time to the disciples where they had locked themselves up, he showed them his scars. But with all things being fair I believe Jesus was able to restore faith to Thomas. Thomas would now go out with the conviction of the risen Lord. Sometimes our Lord Jesus reveals himself to us in different ways at different times to confirm our faith. When he confirms his will upon us it becomes so clear that we are doing the right thing. Have you ever felt an urging or conviction that God is leading in a certain direction in your life? People around you may not even recognize that but to you, things have lined up that you are sure it is the right thing. These are moment when Jesus has shown himself to you. I call those moments “God moment”