Christians do not move on from Easter; we live in its reality every day.

Christians do not move on from Easter. Easter is not like our civic holidays where you enjoy the day off and then move on to our regularly scheduled life. Christians live in Easter every day. This passage shows us some implications of living the Easter reality.

The passage is naturally broken into three pieces: Jesus’ appearance, peace, and sending of the disciples; Jesus’ conversation with Thomas; John’s reason for writing the gospel. There are a lot of ideas to choose from and the sermon could get overwhelming for the minister and listener if a cohesive thread is not found.

The thread I choose to use is one of being healed by Christ’s woundedness. Christ is not the only one wounded in this passage. The disciples are wounded. Christ’s wounds are visible and given to him by others. The wounds of the disciples are not visible and come from decisions they made and from the violence perpetrated on their friend and Lord. This is an aspect of their humanity that I believe deserves more attention as we seek to understand their fear, their hesitancy, and what “salvation” means in its fuller sense.

Verse 19 tells us they are in the house (presumably the same one in which they last ate with Jesus?) and the door is locked “for fear of the Jews.” I will call out that this is not anti-Semitic language; the disciples are Jewish. Some translations render this, “for fear of the Jewish leaders,” which I applaud. What did those same leaders accomplish three days prior? They struck fear into the heart of the Roman governor – the very man who had ALL power of politics and force. They prevailed. Perhaps the disciples also worry that Judas ratted them out as well and gave them the location of the house in which they are staying.

Imagine the interior life of the disciples. “Guys, I ran away. I was so scared when those soldiers had the armor and the swords and the screaming when they arrested and beat him. I wish I could go back and do it over, but I can’t. I can’t believe I ran away.”

Jesus appears in the midst of THAT along with their grief that he was mistreated so horribly and unjustly. Jesus then bodily (not a hallucination) appears and the first word he speaks is not, “How could you have done that to me? Cowards!” No. He speaks, “Peace.” and shows them his hands and his side.

How can I be at peace? “Because of my wounds and I’m here with you because I am victorious.” All your decisions in the past that you now regret are still on the cross, but I am here with you, victorious and okay. I’m not at war with you. Peace.

This is where I will stay for most of the sermon. It is very difficult to live with the reality of our failures and the reality of Easter. We need to let the reality of the victorious Jesus speak to our wounds.

Each person who listens to the sermon has wounds, deep wounds. And the call of the gospel is to take the nail-scarred hands of Jesus to that part of you that lead you to make that decision so that the failures themselves become an integrated part of your personhood and faith.

That space inside of us, that “real” us, is always a space of imperfection. Our listeners have wounds, suffered decades ago, that they live out of. Some of these wounds were given to them by others and some wounds are self-inflicted. This is an opportunity to empathize and to help our listeners connect with Mercy and All-Seeing Grace.

This is a way to understand salvation and shalom: healing of our wounds so that we may live free of guilt, shame, and internalized moral injury.

I see this connecting with John 3:16-17 as Jesus is sent into the world NOT to condemn the world but to SAVE the world. Jesus is the wounded one through whom and in whom we are healed by the process I described above. God is not at war with us but seeks to bring us peace and the way to peace to come into contact with those shadows and wounds we live from instead of living from the freedom Grace, Mercy, and Truth give.

As God sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us – not to condemn but to live a life of wound-healing, and this is what we do when we preach a God of restoration.

A word – Rev. Earl Palmer in his book, “The Book that John Wrote,” describes this passage as an indicator of authentic community. Notice that the disciples do not purge Thomas from their presence, but live with him in dialogue and full fellowship. Notice also that Thomas does engage in hypocrisy to fit in with those who believe.

This is also an indicator of healing. We can be freed from the wounds that cause insecurity where we either need everyone around us to think and believe the same as us OR where we need to people-please. Healing allows us to become individuals.

Y’all, this is the foundation of the Christian church! But if you look around you would think that any congregation that practices this is cutting-edge or that congregation gets named as heretical, not Bible-believing, not protecting the truth. The one with wounds would like to have a word.

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