NOW DO YOU BELIEVE?
We celebrated Easter last Sunday. What Jesus came to earth to accomplish in the form of a man had been completed. Jesus had changed the world forever. Jesus came to earth to be the ultimate, once and for all sacrifice. Since the days of Moses in Egypt, sacrifices--blood sacrifices--were required at appointed times to cover the sins of man. Jesus became the blood sacrifice that made the other sacrifices unnecessary. Jesus also died for those who did not believe. That love, that mercy, that grace, continues to this day.
What we read today is a continuation of what we read last Sunday. The women found the disciples and told them what the angel had said as well as what Jesus said and that they would see Jesus in Galilee. So here we are, most of the disciples in a place with the doors locked, afraid the Jews are coming after them. When out of nowhere Jesus is in the room with them. Can you imagine if we were here at church or at home with all the doors locked, no one else has the keys and suddenly someone, whom everyone knew was not in the room, was there? Jesus told the disciples the only thing he could say, “Peace be with you.” I cannot help but think they instantly knew it was Jesus. As impossible and unlikely as it could be, it was Jesus there with them again. To prove it to them, he showed the disciples his hands and side. In spite of the fact Jesus had risen from the dead, the evidence of his brutal and unjustified death remained. We see the disciples were overjoyed. In spite of Jesus’ best efforts to explain what was going to happen and why, the disciples just had not got it, but there Jesus was, just as real and alive as he ever was. Once again Jesus assured them with the words, “Peace be with you” and then he took it a step further. Jesus reminded them that now it is your turn. You will take the message of God’s love, mercy, grace and justice to the people. Jesus also told them you will have power that you do not have a clue about that will allow you to accomplish God’s mission. God’s wisdom and power will help them do what is ahead of them.
As it turned out one of the eleven was not in that room when Jesus suddenly appeared. Thomas was apparently somewhere else. When the other disciples caught up with him and told him what had happened, he said that all sounds good but unless I see Jesus myself and get proof it is really him, I will not believe.
We read in the 26th verse it had been one week since Jesus had risen from the grave and talked with the disciples. In other words, it was this very day all those years ago. The disciples were back at the same house they were at one week earlier, but this time Thomas was there with them. Again, the doors were locked so no uninvited guests could get in when Jesus suddenly appeared. Jesus knew what Thomas had been thinking. After all, Jesus is God. Jesus instantly went over to Thomas and said, “Put your finger here in the holes in my hands.” Jesus then said, “Put your hand here,” pointing to his side. Instantly, out of both embarrassment and joy, Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus did not scold Thomas. He simply made a very blunt statement, “You believe because you have seen. Blessed are those who have never seen yet believe.” You and me, we are those in the second category. Believers from that time forward are in a special category. While some of us have had our own unique experience with the risen Savior, very few claim to have seen Jesus in the flesh.
The verses we read this morning close out this way. Beginning with the 30th verse, we are told by John that Jesus performed many other miraculous signs while he was with the disciples. John goes on to say while not all miracles are recorded, the ones that have been recorded are so we will believe. Believe Jesus is the Christ and know if we accept all those things that have been recorded and recognize Jesus died for our sins, we, like Jesus, will also have eternal life. All of the things we have read about over the last several weeks was not only for the benefit of disciples, it was written down for your benefit and mine. Jesus is alive. By God’s grace, we are forgiven. God has made you and me and all who will believe part of his family. May we live like the victorious people God has made us to be. Over 2000 years ago after Jesus was crucified Thomas said he would not believe until he sees Jesus face to face and sees his hands and side.
The question for you and me God is asking is, “Now do you believe?” If you are saying I am just not sure, what is it going to take? Jesus is still changing lives. I am convinced most of you here in the sanctuary and most watching on Facebook have been changed by the power of God through Jesus Christ. For those who may be still unsure, I just want to remind you we serve a risen Savior. God’s love is never ending. Let Jesus into your life. For those who know Jesus as Savior, keep hanging in there. The same power that transformed the disciples into the greatest evangelists the world has ever known, the power the Holy Spirit gives, is living in you and me today. Agree with me today, Lord Jesus, yes, we believe!
NO Bible Study this week
April 14 7:00 Executive Committee
May 9 Mothers’ Day
May 12 Board Meeting
Donation Box: Camp Emmanuel
First Sundays: food donations for food banks
Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362
To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:
Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.
District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook
Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook
Keep in Your Prayers
Terry Marvin; Oren Wright; Tera Runyan; Holly Flenner; Carl and Wilma Cable; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; Marlene & Arnold Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 560,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of natural disasters; District of IL/WI search committee; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; our nation’s government
Military and Other Services and their families
Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers
Our Mission Statement:
Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.