Little Words

John 20:19-31

In John's gospel every word counts. John's gospel was written for a community who believed Jesus was coming back before the last disciple died. The reality they live into is everyone of the disciples has died so how do we believe. It is why belief is mentioned in every story we have read so far in John. The funny thing about today's story from John is the verb here in the Greek for believe can be translated two ways, come to believe or continue to believe. Now every word in John counts, it has meaning upon meaning so lets look closer at the story.

The disciples are gathered in the upper room because of fear. They don't dare to go out, they don't dare spread the news that Mary has seen the Lord, their fear makes them captives. Fear can do this, keep us immobile, not moving beyond, captive in our portion of the world. Fear makes us not live fully, if we live in fear we don't live at all. So how does Jesus break into this fear, "Peace be with you".

Remember the peace the world can't give, Jesus mentions it earlier in John to the disciples. Have peace, be released from your fear, go live fully. He appears so the disciples in this upper room come to believe. Now they have had their own encounter with the Lord and they are excited about it. So excited the one disciple who wasn't there is told they have seen the Lord. They believe. Thomas won't take their word for it though. Thomas wants to see and know himself.

Now if ten good friends come to you and say they believe they have seen Jesus in a certain place would you totally not believe? Thomas may have wanted the experience with them, not to be left out. Thomas may have still had a little fear in him he needed assuaged by seeing Jesus. Whatever the reasons Thomas does get his encounter and because he believes already his encounter leads him to continue to believe.

This is just an example for the whole church. Why do you come to church? Did anyone leave the church for a time and come back? Has anyone here come to know Jesus after not being brought up in the faith? Those who have come to believe and those who continue to believe come to be encouraged in faith. In this story Jesus breaths on them. In order to live without fear, in order to live as disciples in the world we need the breath of Spirit to continue to believe, to come to believe. So we are able not to live in our fears, so we are able to be disciples and proclaim the good news, so we are able to live fully.

Every word in John counts. The question we face today is how will we live? Will we live without fear? Will we be a disciple? Will we proclaim good news? Will we ask ourselves do we continue to believe, do we believe in Jesus, in the power of Jesus to breath life into us so we may live life fully and not be held captive by fear or do we surrender to fear? Encourage one another. Paul says this many times in his letters. Encourage one another in faith, encourage one another to live without fear, encourage one another to give because this is good news.

Jesus encourages Thomas by showing up again. Encourage one another. Come to believe, continue to believe so we can encourage each other to live. To be disciples for Jesus and to dare to show it in our lives by living as Jesus did.