Awakening of sending
John 20: 19-31 (NRSVA)
19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘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.’
26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28 Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
When Jesus is suddenly with his old friends again, friends who are mourning his loss, It must have been the strangest experience. They suddenly had to start getting used to each other again only this time round Jesus doesn’t seem so much like their pal who sits around the fire and jokes with them in between teaching. He is new and alive and somehow strikingly more powerful even as he points out his flesh and wounds.
The mission for the disciples has changed. Learning and following now take a back seat, whilst authority and preaching suddenly come to the fore. It’s disorienting, scary, and probably being done in the midst of grief because until recently they thought he was dead and humans can’t just switch things off once they’ve started to feel them.
The disciples must have had to rely heavily on their faith and on the Spirit to awaken them into these new people, perhaps this was on purpose. Perhaps that is why this new community of mission was awakened together.
God of change,
Give us the strength to feel what we are feeling, and to still be your hands and feet on earth.
Teach us to hear you as Jesus stands before us now smiling and encouraging us.
Be with us when we find our life changing direction.