Pause for Thought

7th April the second Sunday of Easter John 20:19-31

“It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Then Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive people's sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (called the Twin), was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!” In his disciples' presence Jesus performed many other miracles which are not written down in this book. But these have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life.“

The first Easter Sunday must have been an emotional roller coaster ride for the disciples. Throughout the day they had heard amazing accounts of the risen Lord appearing to the women and a couple on the Emmaus road; of angels assuring some of them that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, but risen. They were terrified of reprisals because the authorities no longer knew where Jesus’ body lay and that left them feeling out of control of the situation. When Jesus appears to them they are filled with joy, especially when he reassures them by showing them his wounded hands and side. The Lord Jesus greets them with his peace and breathes on them, telling them that just as the Father had sent him to fulfil God’s purposes for the world, now they were to continue his ministry. Whether Thomas thought the other dsiciples bad been gullible, we don’t know, but he was very determined not to be so easily convinced as they had been. However a week later as Jesus appeared to them again, while Thomas was present, Jesus addressed Thomas by offering him the opportunity of touching his wounded hands and side. This was a reminder to Thomas and to us, that the Lord knows how we conduct ourselves and it bowls him over. As Thomas yields his all to Jesus, claiming him as his Lord and his God, the Lord Jesus looks forward and includes us, “Happy are those who believe without seeing me.” Jesus breathed on them.

Can we ask this Easter season, “Breathe on me breath of God, fill me with life anew, that as you love, so I may love and do what you would do”?


14th April the third Sunday of Easter Luke 24: 36b-48

“Suddenly the Lord Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were terrified, thinking that they were seeing a ghost But he said to them, “Why are you alarmed? Why are these doubts coming up in your minds Look at my hands and my feet, and see that it is I myself. Feel me, and you will know, for a ghost doesn't have flesh and bones, as you can see I have.” He said this and showed them his hands and his feet.They still could not believe, they were so full of joy and wonder; so he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”They gave him a piece of cooked fish, which he took and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are the very things I told you about while I was still with you: everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the writings of the prophets, and the Psalms had to come true.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “This is what is written: the Messiah must suffer and must rise from death three days later, and in his name the message about repentance and the forgiveness of sins must be preached to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

Luke the doctor, focuses on some physical realities in this account of Jesus appearing to his disciples after the Resurrection. They could see, touch and also witness that Jesus had flesh and bones and ate a piece of cooked fish, to prove he also had a digestive system, which a ghost would be incapable of doing. Their terror turned to joy and wonder. Then the Lord Jesus took them a stage further by opening their minds to understand the Scriptures. Reading the Bible, we need more than mere human comprehension, we need the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and spiritual understanding.

How about asking God to open your understanding and to show you some wonderful things in the bible?


21st April the fourth Sunday of Easter John 10:11-18

“I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep. When the hired man, who is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away; so the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them.The hired man runs away because he is only a hired man and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd. As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me. And I am willing to die for them.There are other sheep which belong to me that are not in this sheep pen. “I must bring them, too; they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock with one shepherd” he tells the disciples The Father loves me because I am willing to give up my life, in order that I may receive it back again. No one takes my life away from me. I give it up of my own free will. I have the right to give it up, and I have the right to take it back. This is what my Father has commanded me to do.”

In Psalm 23 we read of how King David spoke of God being his shepherd. Using the same imagery, the Lord Jesus speaks of being the Good Shepherd, who is faithful and willing to die for his sheep. He came first and foremost to the Jewish people as Shepherd of Israel but speaks here of other sheep who belong to him, that is the Gentiles ( all people who are non Jewish.) Jesus wants to make of them one flock, so all those from the Jewish community who recognise him as Messiah and everyone from every other nation under heaven who opens their heart to him form one flock. In other places he talks of his followers being part of his body, the church, not the building, but a fellowship of people who trust him to have died “given his life” and taken it up again when he rose from the dead on Easter Day.

Just as Jesus is one with God the Father, so he promises to have a deep relationship with us. Can you thank him for all he has done for you and ask him to be your Good Shepherd?


28th April the fifth Sunday of Easter John 15:1-8

“I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit. You have been made clean already by the teaching I have given you. Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me. Those who do not remain in me are thrown out like a branch and dry up; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, where they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it. My Father's glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way you become my disciples.”

The Lord Jesus uses the familiar picture of the vineyard, for his disciples, as a way of talking about fruitfulness. Bearing fruit only takes place when the sap is rising through the plant from the roots to the buds. Staying connected is the most important thing for the branch. The Lord Jesus speaks of his Father as the gardener or vinedresser. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. Going through tough times might be likened to being pruned, cutting back the bits that limit fruit bearing. As we hold on tight through the difficult periods of our life, we learn more about ourselves and about God’s love for us and that equips us to help others better. God promises that as we stay in touch, we will have answers to our prayers and other people will become followers of Jesus too.

Can you think of various ways in which followers of Jesus bear fruit


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