Submitted by Cynthia Peng, Gracepoint Berkeley
“To believe that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) and the Son of God involves the total acceptance of the revelation of God that he offers, the acknowledgment of his divine authority, and the fulfillment of the commission he entrusted to his disciples. The total scope of this belief is illustrated in the narrative of this Gospel. Its result is eternal life, a new and enduring experience of God by the believer.”
What was John’s purpose in writing the Gospel of John?
John’s purpose in writing the Gospel of John is clearly stated in today’s text, that we, those who come after him and read his gospel, may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in his name.
Am I experiencing that life?
I am definitely experiencing this kind of life as I think about my own salvation and the death and hopelessness and shame that Jesus rescued me from, as I had a chance to reflect on this personally and as a church this whole week with the Passion Experience, watching the Passion of the Christ move, Good Friday service and yesterday’s Easter service. Even though Christian life is not always easy, I look at the full life that I live and I can affirm again and again that really this is the best life out there. It’s simply amazing as I think about where Jesus saved me from. Not only that, I’m amazed to be part of this community where life is overflowing, where over the course of the past couple weeks we’ve been able to experience more than 60 salvation decisions corporately as a church. It’s so true that as a church it’s like we’ve been standing on holy ground, hearing about person after person who crossed the line of faith this week, every person going from death to life, all centered on Jesus’ name and what Jesus did on the cross for us 2000 years ago. If this isn’t “life in his name”, I don’t know what is!
Submitted by Timothy Rhee, Gracepoint Minneapolis
- What can I learn about Jesus from the way he appeared before Mary, the disciples and Thomas? Jesus does not treat us with a “one size fits all” approach. But in each case, he approached them differently. With Mary, he was very tender and gentle. With the disciples, he reassured them of peace knowing they would be frightened and full of guilt for the way they betrayed him. With Thomas, he gave the evidence that he was looking for and a mild rebuke “stop doubting and believe.”
In all of these varied appearances I see Jesus’ tremendous love. Because it is when you love someone, you are mindful of that person, constantly thinking about that person and can think of what would be the best way to love that individual. And even in his resurrection appearances, I see this kind of love. Of course this was true of Jesus’ ministry before his resurrection too. Again and again in the gospels, Jesus ministers to each person according to their needs e.g., Samaritan woman, Nicodemus, the bleeding woman, Zacchaeus, etc. He ministered to each person in a personal and unique way, in accordance to their background, where they were, and how they needed to hear the gospel.
“His greeting of ‘Peace’ and the assurance of his identity calmed their fears and demonstrated by unmistakable proof that he was alive. They were overjoyed, not only to see him again, but also to realize that he was undefeated by death and that his claims were validated.”
What needed to happen for the disciples to go from being full of fear to being “overjoyed?” For the disciples to go from being full of fear to being “overjoyed”, they had to have their perspectives be radically transformed. And that transformation occurred by seeing the risen Jesus. Before Jesus’ appearance, all of their hopes were totally crushed. And they were so afraid that they isolated themselves in fear, behind locked doors. But seeing the resurrected Jesus, validated for them that what Jesus predicted, that he would rise again on the 3rd day after his death. And if Jesus was right about that one, then all of his other words were validated too.
What fears do I need to confront with the peace provided by the risen Jesus? For me, one of my biggest fears is that I would prove to be inadequate as a Christian leader. The responsibility of leading others is indeed a weighty responsibility and I feel the burden of that all the time. “Am I adequately caring for all those who have been entrusted to me? Am I going after those who are lost and straying? Am I missing opportunities to minister?” Such questions are necessary for me to ask as a spiritual leader but the honest answers seem to be always that I come up short. While it’s true, that I can always improve in my spiritual leadership and therefore I need to push myself to improve, but at the same time I need to confront these fears with the peace and assurance that comes from Jesus’ unconditional love for me. Jesus’ disciples, too, fell short in a big way when Jesus was arrested. They all betrayed him by running for their lives. And yet, Jesus still assured them “Peace be with you!” And Jesus could say that because he had fully paid for their sins on the cross. Similarly for me, I need to find peace and assurance in knowing that I am loved not because I am doing a “good job” or even an “ok job.” I am loved and there is peace between me and God because of what Jesus has done on the cross for me. And because of that I don’t have to be paralyzed by fears of inadequacy, but do my best in serving him.“The disciples did not have the power to forgive sins (only God can forgive sins), but Jesus gave them the privilege of telling new believers that their sins have been forgiven because they have accepted Jesus’ message.”
What is the first responsibility the risen Jesus gave to the disciples? Jesus gave them the responsibility of sharing his message of forgiveness (the gospel) with others. The forgiveness that I received from God was never meant to stop with me. It must go through me, to others.John 20:24-29
What might have been the reason that Thomas “was not with the disciples when Jesus came,” and what did he miss out on because of this? What lesson is here about gathering with others? Perhaps Thomas felt like “I need some time by myself. I need to process things on my own.” Maybe he just wanted to distance himself from everything that happened and being in the presence of the other disciples would be a painful reminder of Jesus’ crucifixion. Whatever Thomas’ reason was, one take-away lesson from Thomas is that he missed out by not being with others. Not only did he miss out on Jesus’ initial appearance, but he missed out on giving and receiving strength from the other disciples. When I look back on my life, in some of my biggest storms of life, God has given me strength through the words of concern, prayers, and encouragement of brothers and sisters whom He has placed in my life.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992) notes for chapter 20.
 Life Application Study Bible, study notes (co-published by Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1991) 1927.