Gospel: John 20:19-31
Epistle: 1 John 1:1-2:2 [5:1-6]
Lesson: Acts 4:32-35 [2:14a, 22-32]
Psalm: Psalm 148
CLB Commentary on the Gospel Text by Rev. Omar Gjerness
(Originally published in 2012)
I use this text to explain the apologetic necessity of the resurrection appearances. My theme has been “What can we now believe.” I have also centered on “The missing man,” Thomas (Vs 24). I have also used verse 20 as a theme “Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.”
When using the first of these three approaches I center on the psychology of the disciples. There were two of their small number dead since Friday, and it is only Sunday night. One had died a horrible death and suffered a terribly unjust trial. And all their hopes had been dashed with his death. The other had betrayed the cause, and was a suicide. And if they killed their leader, how long before they came after the disciples, especially the 11 remaining apostles? The text speaks of locked doors and fear. And they seemed to believe that some of their followers were having mental problems, because they said they had seen him walking around Jerusalem. So here is a disillusioned group of fearful followers, who believed that it had all been a mistake.
This brings to the front the reason for 40 days of appearances. One much misunderstood verse is Romans 4:25. I believe the old King James has it right when it says he was “Raised for our justification.” But the price was paid on Calvary. Jesus said “it is finished.” The resurrection adds nothing to the price of salvation, But who would have believed it and spread the gospel had Jesus ascended without even opening the grave? So there is a wonderful apologetic argument in the psychology of this Sunday night. And it was “Easter Sunday night.” The resurrection appearances changed the mind set of the followers of Christ. And it is the strongest evidence of the truth of the gospel.
If you approach this sermon from the standpoint of Thomas, you can speak of the importance of Christian fellowship and the danger of separation.
If you approach it from the approach of “Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord,” you can speak of the joy that comes when Christ becomes central in your life.
The Lord direct you as you prepare.