Scripture: St. John 20:19-30
It’s late on the first day of the week after Jesus has been raised from the dead! The disciples are huddled together in the upper room, where they shared the Passover meal with Jesus. Thomas is absent from the group. Jesus comes and stands in their midst saying, "Peace be with you."
They all rejoice in seeing Him once again. For a second time Jesus says, "Peace be with you." And then He breathed upon them the Holy Spirit, saying, "if you remit the sins of anyone, they are remitted. If you retain them, they are not forgiven.”
He then said that “God the Father has sent Me. Now I am sending you. Go and make Disciples of all men and nations.”
Bishop B. F. Westcott calls this “The Charter of the Church.”
It means 3 important things:
- Jesus needs the Church
- The Church needs Jesus
- Jesus sends out his Disciples
One thing is quite certain: no man or woman can forgive another man or woman’s sins. Yet it is a great privilege of the church to send out men and women for Christian ministry.
At the ordination of an Elder in the U.M.C., these words are spoken: “Take the authority to preach the word and share the scriptures.” They announce that God forgives sins! These human agents are to bring the message of forgiveness and truth of the scriptures.How that is received depends not only on the messenger, but the message itself.It depends on the credibility of the messenger if people will respond to the message. If they respond, it is always with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
Over these last 2,000 years, has the church been faithful as the living presence of God and His love for the world?
Thomas is an example of how someone may or may not respond to the message of God’s forgiving love. Thomas expressed first hand evidence by seeing for himself Jesus’ wounds, and that he and 500 other witnesses saw Jesus alive again.
It is here that we need to take that confirmed faith and share that faith, not our denomination. We need to hear and listen to the voice of God through the Gospel message like the church in Jesus’ days on Earth. She was not a perfect church, nor is she today.
False prophets come leading the masses astray. James Jones was one such person. Yet the church is God’s tool in the world today to spread His love and forgiveness. Today, have we gotten ourselves sidetracked from our primary goal? Is our focus to make disciples of all persons.
A second function of the church is to be God’s hands in our lives today, to prepare the road for new life that will emerge from the church’s actions today.
When Christians come together sharing their faith and not their denomination, new and exciting life will emerge! Let us pray together!