Sunday 3 May 2020

Today’s verse from my Gospel Gems calendar (which I would have used on our weekly Notice Sheet) says

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Psalm 37:7

The context of this Psalm is living one’s life in an evil world, but knowing that God will have His own way. It is worth reading the whole Psalm. We must continue to be patient. God is sovereign and we know He will have His way. I am sure that many of us are impatient for the end of lockdown. However we know that being in lockdown is for the good of us all, and it will end one day.

I am once again indebted to Andy Michell who has prepared a message for us this week and you will find it attached to this email. He has continued to consider those who met the Lord after the resurrection, Last week he considered the two on the road to Emmaus and this week Andy is looking at Thomas and applying his situation to our lives.

Good morning ‘Brothers & Sisters’ at Emmanuel

 

I’m pleased to bring you this Sunday’s message based on the events following Jesus’ resurrection. Last week we looked at Jesus meeting the 2 disciples on the Emmaus Road. Today we read of Jesus meeting the disciples in Jerusalem. I hope you find it a blessing. Let’s look at it together.  Andy

 

Intro

·      It was the evening of the 3rd day after Jesus had been crucified. Imagine how the disciples must have felt at that time. Mary Magdalene & the 2 walking on the Emmaus Road had already met Jesus & now some said, ‘It’s true! The Lord has risen & appeared to Simon’ (Luke 24 v 34)

·      But the disciples were afraid of the Jews, so they’d locked the door as they thought they could be next to suffer as Jesus had. Then all of a sudden, Jesus was standing among them. No mention of Him knocking & being let in – He just appeared & stood among them. (v 19)

1.  Jesus with His disciples (v 19-23)

·      Just as Jesus knew the concerns of the 2 disciples on the Emmaus road, He did when He came to the disciples in Jerusalem. But what would He say to them, especially Peter, who’d denied Him & would remember how Jesus looked at him when the cock crowed the 3rd time (Luke 22 v 61, 62)

  • Jesus gave them a rather meaningful greeting - ‘Peace be with you’ – not ‘why did you desert me or why did you deny me’? So it may not have been quite what they expected, but being Jesus, He knew they were far from being at peace! Yet peace was at the heart of His ministry.- ‘My peace I give to you’ (John 14 v 27) – as He came to make it possible for peace to exist between God & man through His own death & resurrection - as had now happened.
  • Jesus then showed them the evidence of His resurrection – He showed them His hands & side & the disciples were overjoyed to see Him’ (v 20) – It doesn’t say they had disbelieved, but Jesus would have known if they were confused & needed convincing & encouraging.
  • Having again said ‘Peace be with you’ Jesus gave them a commission (as in Matt 28) - ‘As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you’ & He breathed on them & said ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (v 21, 22) - showing that He gives spiritual power to His people to do His work.
  • He then commissioned them to preach – ‘If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they’re not forgiven’ (v 23). So they were commissioned & equipped to preach the Gospel, as God doesn’t forgive or not forgive people’s sins because we do, but rather forgiveness of sins depends on whether hearers accept or reject the Gospel of Jesus.
  • So when Peter said, ‘Repent & turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out’ (Acts 3 v 19) , he was doing precisely what they were commissioned to do. However, this doesn’t authorise the disciples or any other Christians to forgive sins. It is God alone who forgives sins by His Holy Spirit & His Word, as borne out by Acts - as there are no instances of the Apostles forgiving sins. However, Christians can tell others that sinners can be forgiven, if they confess their sins & believe & trust in Jesus for forgiveness.

2.    Jesus with Thomas (v 24-29)

·      Christians can sometimes miss out by not always meeting with the fellowship

o   On this Jesus’ resurrection day, it’s a bit surprising that Thomas was missing when Jesus first came. However, whatever the reason for his absence – he missed receiving the initial blessing & commissioning, & he missed out on seeing the resurrected Jesus for another week. The text ‘Stir up one another in love, not neglecting to meet together’ (Heb 10 v 24, 25) comes to mind.

  • As Thomas was missing when Jesus came, the others told him they’d seen the Lord. He replied ‘Unless I see & feel the nail marks in His hands & side, I will not believe’(v 24, 25).
  • A week later, Jesus again appeared in their midst, despite the locked doors & said ‘Peace be with you’. He told Thomas to feel His crucifixion wounds, & said ‘Stop doubting & believe’. Thomas said ‘My Lord & my God’ (v 26-28) & Jesus acknowledged Thomas’ belief, having now seen Him, & said, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen & yet have believed’ (v 29b).
  • What about us? -  We may not always be able to attend church meetings for various reasons (apart from COVID-19) & can easily miss out on times of fellowship that would have been a blessing to us. The Lord knows how much we all need to meet as a church fellowship, so may we not miss out on ‘the means of grace’ more than we need, once we’re able to meet again.

3.    Jesus with Others (v 30 & 31)

·      Jesus knows the needs & concerns of all those He meets & those who come to Him – in fact He knows us all through & through (Ps 139) & we’ve seen His love & patience with Thomas.

  • We may think it unfair that Thomas was known as ‘doubting Thomas’, as if one of the others had been missing when Jesus came, they may well have responded as Thomas did. However, if Thomas appeared cautious, he could be regarded as being weak in the faith. Surely then, this account is an encouragement to us all, as we’re all weak in the faith at some time or other.
  • So, we can sympathise with Thomas, as having missed seeing Jesus on His first visit when He showed His hands & side to the other disciples, he hadn’t the assurance of the other disciples & therefore struggled with his belief. But surely ‘belief’ is the problem many folk share today.

o   We read that ‘Jesus did many more miraculous signs in front of His disciples, which aren’t recorded in John, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, & that by believing you may have life in His name’ (v 30 & 31).

o   So here we have God’s answer for ‘unbelieving hearts’ – people need to read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry here on earth, like this one involving Thomas. Our amazing God has provided opportunities for folk to see what God is like in a human form we can relate to & also, by believing in Jesus, others can be sure they don’t miss a wonderful eternity with God.

o   As we meet folk who think the Bible is a lot of fables or those who genuinely struggle with aspects of belief, may this passage encourage us, as we would want to echo Jesus’ words ‘Stop doubting & believe’ to others. May the Lord increase our faith all the more, as we pray for the unsaved around us. May we also pray for His continuous help to those of our fellowship who may be struggling with various issues at this difficult time of lockdown due to COVID-19.


A benediction from Paul the apostle to meditate on:- Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20,21.

And remember, STAY AT HOME, keep washing your hands and keep your distance if you have to go out.

God bless you all,

Chris