Vicarage Thoughts 19th April 2020
John 20.19-31 – Peace and presence of Jesus
Peter 1.3-9 – A living hope
From Palm Sunday to the post-Easter days Jesus friends and followers must have gone through nearly every emotional experience we can imagine.
The Palm Sunday praise and celebration by all ages and kinds of people as King Jesus approaches Jerusalem on an everyday donkey. Then came the Passover meal where friends gathered who had found themselves distanced from family to follow a new spiritual leader. In the silence of the garden painful prayers are offered and then shattered by the violent intrusion of the soldiers, priests and Pharisees. A whirlwind of confusion and fear brings arrest, accusations and the earth and heaven shattering crucifixion.
In the dawn daybreak a new world order unfolds as the risen Jesus appears first to one then two or three. In the evening as fearful disciples meet behind locked doors Jesus is suddenly present. They could surely have sung “Jesus stand among us” except that it would be another nineteen hundred years before the song was written! In just a few sentences Jesus offers words of peace, presence and power, an unbelievable yet wonderful reassurance so much needed. After his words “Peace be with you”, he immediately commissions them, breathes a first breath of the Holy Spirit over them and reminds them of the importance of forgiveness.
John doesn’t tell us what happens in the next week but the buzz of rumours must have been rampant. Thomas, who missed that first evening, has unfairly had to wear the label of “doubter” for the last 2000 years. We, and millions of others, may also have had doubts about parts of Christian history. It’s okay to have doubts during difficult times. Jesus knows about our doubts which is why repeated the greeting “peace be with you”. The doubts immediately disappeared and all Thomas can say is “My Lord and my God”.
Our other Bible Reading for this week is from Peter’s first epistle (letter) probably written in Rome around AD 64 a little over 30 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is full of encouragement with promises of new birth, living hope, inheritance and the reminder that we are “shielded by God’s power”. This is a practical “word for today” as we make every effort to “shield” the most vulnerable during the Coronavirus crisis. My prayer for each of us is that we continue in living hope each day of this week and the weeks to come.
Revd Jonathan Watkins, Vicar, St Mary’s Knutton