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Unleashing the Power of Peace
by Gary Sims
03/31/05
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The Gospels
John 20:19-31 - Unleashing the Power of Peace

Key Verses:
(NRSV)
  • 19: "When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house were the disciples had met were locked for the fear…" - The disciples were fearful of persecution.

  • 19b: "Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you.'" - The locked door had no power, Jesus stood among them in their fear and grief offering peace.

  • 20: "He showed them His hand and His side. Then the disciples rejoiced when the saw the LORD." - Like Mary Magdalene at the grave site, the disciples did not recognize Jesus at first.

  • 21: "Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.'" - The job of teaching and spreading the Good News had now been passed on to the students.

  • 22-23: "He breathed on them and said… 23'If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them…'" - Created anew by the living presence of Christ, the disciples were empowered and commissioned to continue Jesus' teaching of love and forgiveness.

  • 25: "But Thomas said, 'Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands…I will not believe." - Thomas the Doubter was simply asking to experience the same event that the other disciples had experienced. They too, did not believe until they had seen.

  • 29: "Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.'" - Faith is a belief in the unseen, and we are to be blessed by our faith.

  • 31: "But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in His name." - John has written a personal letter directly to you.
Points to Contemplate:
  • Are you huddled in fear? The disciples were huddled in a closed and secured place, enveloped, not only by walls and a locked door, but by their fear, doubt, and grief. They knew, by this time, that the tomb was empty and that Peter, John, and Mary had seen the Risen Lord, yet they still huddled in fear. Can you relate? When your faith is weak, do you tend to close yourself off from the world, fearful of its unleashed power to do harm? Can you see that without the love of God, the hope of Christ, and the comfort of the Spirit, that the world becomes a very cold and fearful place?

  • Are you rejoicing? When Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples they rejoiced. Do you remember the joy you felt at that moment when you first believed? Does that joy continue to lift you? Is it still alive in your heart? John 16:22 says: "your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." If you do not still feel the joy of Christ, what can you do to recapture it? Have you, perhaps, drifted from God, allowing the pressures of the world to consume your heart and your joy? Is it time to refocus on Christ's love and to remember His promise: "Peace be with you?"

  • Do you doubt? Thomas the Doubter is remembered as the disciple who demanded proof that Christ had risen from the grave. Do you, too, demand proof? The disciples needed to see before they believed. Do we not all have doubts? Is there not always a need for reassurance? Does this not again stress the importance of witnessing and of sharing your faith with others, so they too can see the proof of the Living Christ in your life? In what ways will their doubts be answered without your witness as proof?
Promises of the Gospel:

The world in which we live is a dark and fearful place. To protect ourselves, we create walls and barriers behind which we hide and cower. Maybe it is a wall of cynicism or a locked door of escapism that we build to protect ourselves. Perhaps we arm ourselves not only with weapons that kill, but also with the weapons of hate and prejudice. Maybe we wrap ourselves in a flag of patriotism, seeking warmth and comfort from its fibers. Jesus entered the locked Upper Room, bringing peace and the Spirit of Forgiveness. Once we believe, we are empowered not only for protection, but for joyful action. The action we are called to do is to unleash to the world the spirit of God's forgiving love and His peace that surpasses understanding which is available through the Resurrected Christ.

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