Second Sunday of Easter
"The Purifying Power of Oneness"
1 John 1:1-2:2
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
EASTER! This is the most glorious time of the year!... It took 40 days to prepare for and 50 days to celebrate. There must be something very special and wonderful about this time. What does the resurrection of Christ really mean? Why is it so important in our lives today?
The ancient Christians believe that the resurrection was not just a miraculous event of someone who died and then 3 days later rose again. They believed that the resurrection of Christ had far reaching effects into their lives. They further believed that the effects of the resurrection also extend to all of creation. Death has lost its power over man. Jesus said, “even if you die, you live”. This was a puzzling statement to His hearers, but after the resurrection, it becomes more real and clear.
1 Peter 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
There is a transformation of life. There is a change from living in the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His marvelous light…a conversion from being slaves to sin to servants of righteousness....from a life of fear and turmoil to a life of faith and peace.
Let us look at the gospel today in order to gain insight into the power of the resurrection. We have heard the gospel read and proclaimed to us. But let us go further and put ourselves into the setting of the gospel.
Vs 31… these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Put yourself into the shoes of the disciples. Three years ago, here was this man, son of a carpenter, who came to each of their lives and called them to follow Him. They left everything: their family, their occupation, their dreams for the future, believing that what this man, who became their leader, taught and did was the truth. There were some instances that they were confronted and puzzled with the radical teachings that this man had, but they continued to follow Him.
Then just when things began to become clearer, when following Him was making sense, one day this man entered Jerusalem, riding on a colt/donkey, fulfilling what the Jews have been taught - that the Messiah of Israel will come into Jerusalem riding on this animal. This was followed several days later with an unusual celebration of the Passover feast in an upper room. But suddenly, their leader was captured, tortured, mocked, beaten and was sentenced to be crucified. Now their leader is dead. What now happens to all that they have hoped for, to all that they have given their lives for? They left everything…for what?…for nothing? Not only that, they were now identified as His followers and were being hunted by the Jews. Their lives were at a great risk. Yes, they heard some ladies say that the grave where they laid Him is now empty, that they saw Him alive. Yes, there were two of their companions who came back from the town of Emmaus and who said that they recognized Him when He ate with them… But they were so overwhelmed with grief and fear, confused, distraught, despairing, hopeless.
They gathered in the same room. The doors were locked to make sure no one else could come in... Then suddenly, Jesus stood in their midst. With the first word of the resurrection, “PEACE!”
One of them, Thomas, had slipped out earlier. Perhaps, he was too devastated, shocked, and confused to stay with his friends. What he did when he left, we can only guess, but what was sure was that he wasn’t there that evening. When he returned, he was told about this news. “JESUS is alive!” … He thought that hard to believe. There were many reasons why he doubted his friends’ testimony. It could have been his pride, his passion for the facts and physical proof, his feeling of hopelessness. Whatever it was, one week later, they were again in the same place, the doors are still shut, but this time, Thomas is with them. Jesus appears again and He ministers directly to Thomas to bring Thomas to transformation – from a doubter to a believer.
We, too, like the disciples have had very similar experiences in our lives where we have been disappointed and disillusioned by what we thought would give us hope. We have come a point of fear regarding the security of our future. We have had the door of hope shut for us. But like the disciples, Jesus enters through even the shut doors, the door of impossibility. And the first word of Jesus in His resurrection is “PEACE!”.
What is this “Peace” all about? ..Certain things about the gospel account would give us a greater understanding of Easter’s message that will bring help and guidance in our lives.
Verse 19 has 3 points that we can examine:
On the first day of the week, the disciples were gathered
The doors were shut because of fear
Jesus came in and stood in their midst and said to them, “PEACE to you”
“On the first day of the week the disciples were gathered” – Sunday is the Lord’s day. Every week, we are given the living hope amidst the problems of life. We start the new life on the first day of the week. It sets the course of our lives for the week. When we order our lives according to God’s pattern, we will see and experience the transformation that we so much need so that we will rise above the problems that we face. This assembly happens in a place where the Jesus’ disciples gather. They were gathered in the same place where they had communion. Similarly, we – Jesus’ present-day disciples -gather on Sunday, in the place where God has designated for us. It is called church.
Deuteronomy 12:5 But you shall seek the Lord at the place which the Lord your |God shall choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come.
Hebrews 10:25 – not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
The Lord is eager to meet us when we gather in the community and fellowship of believers. From this gathering, we are sent out by Christ as His body (representatives, ambassadors) to wherever place He tells us to go.
The doors were shut because of fear. – The state that we find ourselves in the world to day is “FEAR”...Fear closes and shuts the door of our lives. It paralyzes us. It makes us unable to take action. Over and over, God’s word reminds us, “Do not be afraid!
Yet, even at the darkest moment of our lives – at the time when we are gripped and paralyzed with fear, Jesus comes in and stands in their midst and proclaims, “PEACE to you” . This brings two major effects in our lives:
“Receive the Holy Spirit” (vs. 22)… A supernatural power beyond human ability came upon them, transforming them
With great power, the disciples were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and abundant grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:32-35)
“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven”…FORGIVENESS is the message of the resurrection. There is nothing that should keep from living in the new life which Christ intended for us to have.
Why is the gospel today including the story of Thomas? He missed God for whatever reason. But God is the God of Second Chance. He is the God of Hope and Restoration.
Psalm 103:10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquity.
Mark 16:6b – 7 – He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, He is going before you into Galilee;
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Easter brings a fresh start into our lives. Let us not miss out on the effect that this season should bring to all of us – to transform us because we were born again to a living hope.