Conditional Thomas, Unconditional Jesus

A Sermon Preached on The Second Sunday of Easter
The Anglican Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, Kefalas, Crete
April 28, 2019 11:00 am

Scripture readings may be found here.

the-old-pearly-gates-looked-nice-mike-twoh

Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!
Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Last week I preached a long sermon. Today’s will be short.

I’ll start with a joke. I cannot promise it is a good one.

A Baptist, a Catholic and an Anglican were standing before the pearly gates.

St. Peter himself met them: To the Catholic he said “I have one question that you must answer: who do you say that Jesus is?” The Catholic replied, “The church teaches . . .” Peter interrupted, “I didn’t ask about the church, I asked about you! You may not enter!”

To the Baptist he said, “I have one question that you must answer: who do you say that Jesus is?” The Baptist replied, “The Bible says . . .” Peter interrupted, “I didn’t ask about the Bible, I asked you! You may not enter!”

Finally he said to the Anglican, “I have one question that you must answer: who do you say that Jesus is?” The Anglican then said, “He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Word made flesh, the Alpha and the Omega!” Jesus said, “Yes, that is correct! You may enter!” The Anglican then continued, “Now, on the other hand . . .”

Thomas is the disciple who always seemed to be the skeptic, and who can always see the other side of any questions. We are very good at seeing multiple sides of everything. But in the end the issue is less the propositions we believe in that the relationship we have with God in Christ.

Thomas put obstacles in the way of that relationship, and that can be a problem. He put demands on it. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Well, the only absolute precondition to a relationship is showing up. So a week after, Jesus shows up, and submits to Thomas’s demands. “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas believes, removes the obstacles to the relationship, and confesses him as “My Lord and my God!” And he says to the disciples, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” They receive the Holy Spirit, and are sent.

This is a world that is often hostile to God and God’s peoples. Over 250 Christians were murdered last Easter Sunday while they worshipped. This was supposedly in reaction to massacre of fifty Muslims in Christchurch NZ. This morning we heard of the hate crime and murder in a synagogue in San Diego, in imitation of the murder of eleven people attending worship at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. These attacks are not acts of faith, but terrorism that is antithetical to the will of God. How do we respond to such hostility? Our model is Jesus Christ. The cycle of violence will continue until humans allow God to break through, and the obstacles to the power of the resurrection are taken away.

For us as Christians that means having a relationship with God in Christ, and in deepening that relationship.

  • It means knowing Jesus
    • as Leader and Saviour, as Peter says before the Sanhedrin
    • as the rejected stone that is now the chief cornerstone, as Psalm 118 puts it.
    • as the one who is and who was and who is to come, as Revelation states.
    • As the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
    • who loves us and frees us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom of priests
    • the one who is the Alpha and the Omega,
    • with Thomas, as our Lord and our God,
    • as the Messiah, the Son of God,
  • It means breathing in that Holy Spirit that is breathed upon us.
  • It means that we are people of peace, as Jesus greets us with, Shalom.
  • It means that by eating the bread of life and drinking the cup of salvation we become in human form the body and blood of Christ.
  • It means by being in relationship with others we are the body of Christ.
  • It means that we are sent even as Jesus sent us.
  • It means breaking cycles of violence, just as Jesus did.

May the same power which raised Jesus Christ from the dead work in us, that we may show forth the glory of God’s power.

Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

About Bruce Bryant-Scott

Canadian. Husband. Father. Christian. Recovering Settler. A priest of the Church of England, Diocese in Europe, on the island of Crete in Greece.
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