MESSAGE 16 April 2023 – Second Sunday of EASTER Year A
THEME: Jesus, our living hope!
Christ is Risen. He is Risen indeed! Alleluia.
Happy EASTER in you!
Easter is not over! While we celebrated Easter Sunday last week, the fifty day Easter Season continues until Pentecost Sunday.
During this time, the Lectionary invites us to dig deep into the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection.
This season flows out of Holy Week as a kind of mirror of Lent which led us into it – Lent being a preparation for the powerful and challenging journey of Holy Week, and Easter being an outworking of the Holy Week experience.
Resurrection is something real and transforming that we can experience and live each day This week’s Lectionary readings make it clear, that the resurrection of Jesus is way more than just an event of the past.
Every reading offers the assurance that God’s life is available to us now in Christ.
To those who have not seen the risen Christ, the three New Testament readings repeat the bold good news of Easter—that death could not hold Jesus in its power.
Death could not hold him down – for he is Risen!
Like Thomas and the other disciples, and like the readers of 1 Peter, however, we live in the midst of trials and suffering, doubt and fear.
Jesus’ resurrection invites us to a resilient, specially blessed faith (John 20:29b) that does not end with doubt or fear or suffering.
Our readings proclaim that life is our ultimate end and God’s aim for us, and we may rejoice even now in this “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3). Amen!
In both Peter’s preaching and his letter, he affirms that Christ’s resurrection is real and is a promise that God’s life is available to all. The Psalm, which Peter quotes in his Pentecost sermon, expresses the Psalmist’s assurance of God’s care and life, and is taken by Peter as a prophecy of Christ’s resurrection.
Peter spoke forthrightly about the resurrection. As Peter preached, the events of Christ’s death and resurrection were still hot news, less than two months old. Christ’s execution had been carried out in public before many witnesses. His empty tomb was available for inspection just a short distance away. If Christ had not truly died, Peter’s message would have been laughed at or ignored. If Christ had not been resurrected, authorities could have produced his body and put an end to this new faith. But Peter and the apostles had witnessed the risen Christ. Changed men, they announced the news with great passion and conviction.
Our faith and our credibility also rest on the truth of the empty tomb. Why? For a number of important reasons. According to the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, the resurrection of Christ means that he is the Son of God and that his word can be trusted. It means that his sacrifice for sin was acceptable to God, so we can be completely forgiven. It means that our Saviour is alive and active, able to help us in times of need. It also means that one day we, too, will conquer death. The Christian faith rests on the basic fact of the empty tomb. Don’t neglect this essential part of the gospel when you share your faith with others. Acts 2:24
1:3–5 Do you need encouragement? Peter’s words offer joy and hope in times of trouble, and he bases his confidence on what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. We’re called into a living hope of eternal life (1:3). Our hope is not only for the future; eternal life begins when we trust Christ and join God’s family. God will help us remain true to our faith through whatever difficult times we must face. The “last time” is the judgment day of Christ described in Romans 14:10 and Revelation 20:11–15. No matter what trials or persecution you may face, your soul cannot be harmed if you have accepted Christ’s gift of salvation. You will receive the promised rewards. 1 Peter 1:3
20:25–28 Jesus wasn’t hard on Thomas for his doubts. Despite his scepticism, 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, then doubt has done good work. It is when doubt becomes stubbornness and stubbornness becomes a prideful lifestyle that doubt harms faith.
When you doubt, don’t stop there. Let your doubt deepen your faith as you continue to search for the answer. John 20:25
Jesus last words are a call to future readers. Witness and testimony of Mary, then Disciples, then Thomas is meant to lead readers to their own witness and testimony:
Blessing to “those who believe, but have not seen,” is a direct call to the community receiving this gospel. They now have the complete good news, and are free to believe where they have not seen.
Readers are pushed to proclaim, as Thomas, that Jesus is “My Lord and my God,” which was the point of the prologue, back in 1:1. Probably the end of the Gospel of John, but “there is no evidence that John’s Gospel was ever circulated without chapter 21” (Common English Study Bible, p. 212 NT).
The next paragraph is seen as an epilogue, reminding people of what they will gain if they believe.
Truth of the Gospel lies not in historical facts, but in its ability to inspire faith in Jesus. The gospel’s own stated purpose is not to report history, but to help readers understand the truth of Jesus Christ. Once again, the writer uses two levels of meaning.
John demonstrates how Christ’s resurrection inspires and empowers his disciples, and how Thomas is dramatically drawn into faith. Put together, these readings give us a basis for confidence as we face the challenges – the ‘little deaths’ – of each day, and they invite us to experience Christ’s resurrection life now, not just after we have died. So, resurrection is not just an amazing thing that happened long ago. It can be our lived experience every moment. May the power of resurrection life fill our souls as we worship this week, and throughout the Easter Season.
Blessings as we live into the power of Christ’s resurrection. Rev Tania