Easter 2C

image: The Incredulity of Thomas by Caravaggio (wikimedia)


161: April 3, 2016

321: April 28, 2019

Voice in the Wilderness: Anita Ford

Featured Musician: Christopher Grundy

Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Proclaim Eastertide! Easter is not only one day, but every Sunday!

John 20:19-31

Initial Thoughts

  • Eastertide in John:

    • Easter 2C is John 20:19-31, Jesus appears to disciples and Thomas.

    • Easter 3C is John 21:1-19, Jesus appears among the fishermen.

    • Easter 4C is John 10:22-32 Conflict with Jewish opposition over identity.

    • Easter 5C is John 13:31-35 Farewell Discourse: Jesus’ new commandment: Love each other.

    • Easter 6C is John 14:23-29 Farewell Discourse: Jesus bid peace to his disciples

    • Easter 7C is John 17:20-26 Jesus prayers for disciples before his arrest.

  • Picks up right from last week. “Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.

    • “Don’t hold to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (v. 17)

    • Probably the original ending of John’s gospel, but there is no manuscript evidence that it ever existed without ch 21.

  • Next week picks up from the end of this passage John 21:1-19 Miraculous catch.

Bible Study

  • Every Sunday is Easter. This Sunday is literally still Easter: “It was still the first day of the week.”

    • In the evening, disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid.

    • Jesus appears. No mention of the doors being opened.

    • “Peace be with you.”

      • Twice Jesus appears to disciples who are afraid. Twice his first words are “Peace be with you.”

      • When we pass the peace with one another in worship, are we quieting each other’s fears, or is it just a nice greeting?

    • Peace comes along with sending.

      • There are no real details about what he is sending them to, only the parallel that they are sent by him as Jesus was sent by God.

    • Shows them hands and side.

      • They don’t ask to see it, but he shows them anyway.

      • The wounds and scars are still there.

      • Resurrection doesn’t erase the pain of crucifixion.

    • They have no particular reaction.

      • No confession by any disciples at seeing Jesus.

    • Breathes on them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

      • No response by disciples at receiving H.S.

      • There is no Pentecost story in John. The disciples receive the Holy Spirit on Easter - no delay.

      • What do they do with the Holy Spirit? Forgive - or don’t forgive.

      • Forgiveness is a foundation of this community. That is the only thing they are directly told to do.

  • Thomas shows up.

    • Where was he?

    • Thomas: “Unless I see the nails marks in his hands… I won’t believe”

    • Disciples didn’t believe the women until they saw. Thomas doesn’t believe the disciples unless he sees

  • Eight days later they are still locked in a house

    • If they had seen the risen Lord, and been given the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t the be doing something other than chilling in a locked room for a week?

    • What have they been doing?

    • Jesus appears even though the room is locked.

    • “Peace be with you,” again is the greeting.

    • Thomas does not ask Jesus to see the wounds. Jesus simply offers - in the same way he offered the disciples.

      • History has labeled Thomas the doubter even though he really showed no more doubt than the others.

      • If anything, he doubted the disciples, but they were locked in a room 8 days later.

      • He is actually the only one in this passage to respond in any meaningful way to Christ’s presence.

Thoughts and Questions

  • It is not Pentecost, but still the Holy Spirit shows up. Since last week was all about “The Son,” can we give the third person of the Trinity a little more attention this week? “The Belgian theologian, José Comblin, suggests that a possible reason for this invisibility is that the Spirit empowers individuals by creating egalitarian conditions often beneficial to marginalized communities (i.e., women, the poor, those living in fear, the illiterate), which is usually an undesirable prospect for the hierarchical structures of institutions such as the church itself. According to Comblin, the Holy Spirit can pose a threat to societal and ecclesial powers. It certainly challenges exalted traditions, such as apostolic succession, and its pseudo-doctrines within protestant traditions. The Spirit really shakes things up.” (Samuel Cruz, Working Preacher)

    • Who is allowed to speak?

    • Who is allowed to lead?

  • What did the disciples do for eight days after they “received the Holy Spirit,” and were still locked in the room? The disciples are passive in these stories. They have no real response. Except for Thomas who declares “My Lord and my God.” He is the only one who makes this stark confession to Jesus’s resurrection.

  • This passage is more about the readers - the Johannine community - than it is about the disciples themselves. To a group that is beginning to face scrutiny and persecution, it is a word of encouragement for those who believe though they had not seen.

    • “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and believe.” This is clearly an exhortation to the community receiving the gospel. The good news is that you need not have seen Jesus to believe. The offering to see and believe is made to all. The question is, “What have you seen?” The gospel closes (kind of) with the words, “believing, you will have life in his name.” What does it mean to have life in Jesus name? Is it purely about afterlife? Is following Jesus just about believing so that you can get to heaven? Or does life in Jesus name mean something more?

Initial Thoughts

Bible Study

  • John of Patmos

    • Most likely not the same as the Gospel writer

      • Greek is very different

      • Theology is very different- especially Christology

        • John- Jesus = the Divine Word

        • Rev. - Jesus = first born of the dead, but is subjugated to God

        • Rev. - Jesus is the inheritor of God, the successor, but not equal

  • The return of Jesus- coming in clouds

    • Jesus will return in the same way he departed

    • Daniel 7:13 -  As I continued to watch this night vision of mine, I suddenly saw one like a human being coming with the heavenly clouds. He came to the ancient one and was presented before him.

    • Zechariah 12:10 - but I will pour out a spirit of grace and mercy on David's house and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They will look to me concerning the one whom they pierced; they will mourn over him like the mourning for an only child. They will mourn bitterly over him like the bitter mourning over the death of an oldest child.

    • Wailing - despair, judgment in the face of the change that Jesus will bring

  • The Seven Churches of Asia Minor

    • Named later in chapter 2

    • Perhaps representative of all the churches in Asia minor

    • Declaration that God’s authority (not Rome’s) is ultimate - throne of God, Alpha and Omega, etc

  • God - the one who is and who was and who is to come - echoes Exodus 3:14

    • God of salvation and liberation

    • Also not a one-and-done event

    • God continues to lead God’s people and call them back to faithfulness for generations

  • The work of Easter is not done yet

    • Interpreting the past, present and future in light of Easter

      • Christ has died- Christ is risen- Christ will come again

    • Easter is not a one-and-done kind of event, but part of a continual unfolding of God’s redemptive work bringing all of Creation into the Kingdom of Justice and Peace

    • God is the first and the last- and the last hasn’t come yet

    • God has done this, God is doing this, God will do this

  • “Eastertide is not the eschaton, and the meaning of Easter is not the elimination of suffering.” - Lauren Winner Feasting on the Word: Year C, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide

Thoughts and Questions

  • What is the ongoing work of Easter (redemption, triumph of life over death,e tc) in your congregation?

  • Explore with your church what God is and will do. What Does proclaiming God as Alpha and Omega say about the political season? Fear and anxiety? About pride?

  • Easter is not the end, but the beginning - how does the church live into Easter?

    • If Jesus’ resurrection and second coming are “visible, decisive, and world changing” then how is that embodied in the church?

Acts 5:27-32  

Initial Thoughts

  • A break from “Doubting Thomas” in Easter 2

  • Continuation of the Luke Story (kind of) through Eastertide - Check out Matt Skinner’s guide on preaching Acts in Eastertide

    • Easter 2C (this Sunday) – Acts 5:27-32: The apostles must obey God, and continue to preach

    • Easter 3C – Acts 9:1-20: Conversion of Saul

    • Easter 4C – Acts 9:36-43: Raising of Tabitha

    • Easter 5C – Acts 11:1-18: Peter’s vision opens gospel to the Gentiles

    • Easter 6C – Acts 16:9-15 Conversion of Lydia (a Gentile that “loved God”)

    • Easter 7C – Acts 16:16-34 Conversion of the Jailer

    • Pentecost

  • Part of a larger narrative that begins with 5:12 and continues through the chapter

Bible Study

  • Background

    • The apostles are teaching and doing “signs and wonders” (v. 12) in the Temple

    • Peter’s prestige is growing into celebrity status (v. 15)

    • Religious authorities have the apostles imprisoned because they are jealous (v. 17-18)

    • An “angel of the Lord” frees them and tells them to go and preach “the message about this life” in the temple. (v.20)

    • Priests go to question their “prisoners”, find they have escaped and have them “non-violently” rearrested (vv.21-26)

  • Power and Corruption

    • The apostles are arrested due to jealousy (how often does jealousy infect our churches?)

    • This is about the religious authorities “high priest and those with him”, the “council and the whole body of elders” NOT the people. The people are on the side of the apostles even to the point of violently resisting their religious leaders to protect the apostles.

    • The authorities(who conspired to kill Jesus) reject Easter and resurrection now conspire against the apostles in order to keep their power.

    • They clearly have no power:

      • They cannot imprison the disciples

      • They cannot keep them from teaching and healing

      • They cannot kill or harm them

      • Like Jesus, they charge the disciples with a false crime “you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” - The apostles (unlike the anti-semitic history of the Christian church) does not use the resurrection and gospel as an opportunity for vengeance and violence, but rather healing and good news.

    • Peter rejects their power and authority, “We must obey God rather than any human authority”

      • Reminds the “religious” authorities that they too should be following God, not themselves

      • Herein lies theological evidence for religious civil disobedience from Luther’s “Here I stand”, to Bonhoeffer’s plot against Hitler, to King’s march on Selma, to the clergy in Ferguson, MO and Charlottesville, VA.

  • Peter’s confession

    • “The God of our ancestors” - they link themselves with their captors as worshiping the same God

    • “Raised up Jesus, whom you had killed.” - you, like Herod, Pharaoh and Pilate before you, have no power over life and death

    • “Repentance for Israel” - Peter still believes this Good News is only for the Jews

    • “Forgiveness of sins” - There is no condemnation here - only an invitation

    • “We are witnesses...so is the Holy Spirit” - we have seen and cannot be silent.

  • In response to this they will want to kill him. They won’t, yet, but they will kill Stephen soon


  • What does it mean to obey God rather than human authority?

  • Beware using this passage as a tirade against religious authority. It is Gamaliel, a Pharisee, who, obeys God, is humble and saves the disciples from death

    • “Simply by being a member of the establishment an official is not thereby made deaf to the gospel. The key qualification is that one be “looking for the kingdom of God.” Willimon, Interpretation: Acts.

  • I am constantly amazed at the jealousy of many mainline churches against their evangelical counterparts. There is a dismissal of evangelical worship and “not really church” or “cultish” and a vast ignorance of the vast service, wonders, healing and work of the Spirit in our mega-church, evangelical sibling-communities. How might we learn from one another and hold one another accountable, instead of dismissing one another?

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Miserlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.