3 April 2016

John 20:19-31

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.’” (v. 21)

Psalm: Psalm 118


Every time I read verse 21 I'm stunned.

Try to put yourself in the place of Jesus. He had been brought to trial and crucified. This same Jesus then meets the disciples in a closed upper room.

At a human level I could imagine Jesus reflecting back on those he was going to meet. Philip, who I've always thought of as counting the cost as if the money was his own - remember him at the feeding of the 5,000 asking how they could afford to feed all those people (John 6:5-7). Then there was James and John, vying for position (Mark 10:35-45), and Simon, a zealot (Luke 6:15) - a terrorist in today's terms and disheartened with the outcome. And then there is Peter, landing himself in it with that denial in the courtyard when Jesus had been arrested (John 18:15-18). And Jesus is coming to meet them.

If it was me I'd be taking count of the times those men had let me down, sleeping when I needed them most, denying me and walking away. My opening words would be, 'I've a bone to pick with you…' But Jesus is disarming in his grace, "Peace be with you". And he repeats those words.

But that was a week ago and now they meet again and Thomas, 'Questioning Thomas' as a friend of mine put it, who had not been present, is there. History has labelled him the doubter. It could really test your patience. Yet Jesus greets Thomas as he greeted the others, "Peace be with you" (v. 26). And he doesn't stop there. We know how the rest of the story unfolds. Jesus understands and offers just what is needed to nurture the struggling seed of Thomas' faith.

What strikes me equally is Jesus' gracious acceptance, not reminding these men of their failures (surely they felt guilty anyway?), and the way each was met as an individual with personal needs. Those two facets of Jesus' humanity shine through the Gospel. And hopefully, at least a reflection of his character might be found in each of us.

To Ponder

  • In what ways can you be gracious to those who may have let you down?
  • How do your attitudes and words indicate that you treat and value others as individuals?

Bible notes author

The Revd Andrew Pratt

Andrew is a Methodist supernumerary presbyter, Honorary Research Fellow at Luther King House, Manchester, and author. He has written over 1,300 hymns.