Second Sunday of Easter
April 11, 2010
Acts 5:27-32        Revelation 1:4-8
Psalm 118:14-29    John 20:19-31
The story of Thomas is so compelling. It is almost impossible not to preach on this text. Virtually everyone has some struggle with believing things they have not seen. But the broad theme for the day is the confession of those who believe in Jesus. If anything, today’s lectionary texts emphasize first-hand testimony.
• John’s vision reveals Jesus Christ as the “faithful witness” to God’s dominion over death and all mortal powers (Rev 1:5, NRSV).
• The Psalmist praises God not in hope, but through experience: “The stone that the builders tossed aside has now become the most important stone. The LORD has done this, and it is amazing to us” (Ps 118:22-23, CEV).
• Bless Thomas, for when he sees, he believes and proclaims Jesus as Lord (John 20:28).
We know that faith is such a blessing, sometimes we forget the power that comes when we know (by faith, by sight, by any means necessary) that something wonderful is true.
Imagine for a moment, from the reading in Acts, those strange days in Jerusalem. Peter and the apostles had seen Jesus murdered, had seen him risen from the dead and then ascend into heaven. The town was in ferment at this new movement, possessed by a Spirit some called Holy, others called disruptive of good order. People saw Jesus’ disciples as miracle workers and came to them for healing. When the authorities threw them in jail, an angel opened the jailhouse doors and commanded them “Go to the temple and tell the people everything about this new life” (Acts 5:20, CEV). Testimony is not an optional part of faithful living.
When hauled before the Council (preaching without a license), they surely knew what could be in store for them, the same fate their Lord received. Yet they were insolent. “We can’t obey you, we’re on a mission from God!” (Acts 5:29, free paraphrase). We saw with our own eyes what you did to Jesus, and what God did with him, raised him to glory. We have to tell the story – we’re witnesses!
The prophets, the psalm-singers, the evangelists and apostles knew that kind of amazing, world-changing story. Imagine the kind of story that you cannot keep hidden... A secret that cannot wait any longer... Something amazing you’ve discovered, seen, or been given...
“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD” (Ps 118:17, NRSV).
What have you seen? What has God been up to in your life? What’s your version of the gospel testimony? Someone out there is longing to hear a good word.
[This text, with additional resources, is also available as an American Bible Society E-Bulletin PDF.]