Christianity 201

May 3, 2016

Dancing with the Wrong Partner

John 20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” …

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

In the process of digging deeper here at Christianity 201, we usually eschew certain types of illustrations, but every once in awhile there is one that really makes you think. That was the case when I read this article by Canadian pastor and fiction author Matthew David Brough. Click the title below to read this at source.

May I Cut In?

Today  I came across an idea I had written about three years ago for a sermon on the same bit of Scripture as this coming Sunday’s. Here’s the thought – stick with it to the end.

John 20:19-31 describes a group of frightened men locked away in an upper room on the first Easter evening. They’re afraid that they will meet with the same fate as Jesus did three days earlier. Will the authorities start rounding up his followers? Will the authorities find out that they were indeed his disciples?

Suddenly, though the doors are locked, Jesus appears among them. He shows them his hands and feet and says “peace be with you” – their faith in him is renewed.

How did Jesus suddenly appear among them? I guess Jesus’ resurrected body must be able to just disappear and reappear and pass through walls. That’s pretty awesome, but it’s not the point (at least not the point today). The point is that Jesus wanted to be in that room with his fearful followers. He chose to come to them. I imagine that if Jesus wasn’t able pass through walls, he would have found some way into that room – he would have broke in if he’d had to.

I think Jesus is like that with us. Ever been afraid? Ever been discouraged? Ever been full of doubt? Beaten by life? Jesus wants to break in and say “peace” to you.

Another way of thinking about this…

You may have seen this scene in an old movie or something. A man and woman are dancing and there is this other man on the sideline, watching. The man on the side knows in his heart that he is supposed to be the one dancing with the woman. She is so beautiful to him – he just knows they are meant for each other. She is dancing with the wrong partner. He walks up to the couple and says “may I cut in?”

That’s what Jesus does. He sees you for who you truly are – you are beautiful to him. He doesn’t judge you – he just despairs that you are dancing with the wrong partner. You’re dancing with fear, with greed, with ambition, with doubt. But Jesus knows you are meant to dance with him. Fortunately, Jesus is even more persistent than the romantic lead in the old movie.

He interrupts your dance and says “may I cut in?”

Then, it’s your move.

Incidentally, the disciples were still hiding in the same room a week later. You know what Jesus did? He showed up again. “May I cut in?” “Peace be with you” were the first words out of his mouth.

March 31, 2016

Fishing, Failure and Reconciliation

Today we introduce a new writer, Dottie Parish who I discovered online and asked if she would submit some articles for us. You can read more of her writing at Faith Notes.

Often we spend the forty days before Easter focusing on Christ’s journey as he sets his face toward Jerusalem and crucifixion. What about the forty days after Easter? Scripture describes a number of Jesus’ resurrection appearances including the fact that he appeared to 500 people. (1 Cor. 15:6-7) His resurrection was no delusion by a few ardent disciples.

He talked with them, ate and drank with them, showed them his nail scarred hands and wounded side. And he taught them, loved them, and prepared them for his Ascension. And He prepared them to be His Church on earth.

One of the most compelling resurrection appearances (John 21:1-17 NIV) describes a fishing excursion of Peter and six other disciples. They caught nothing after hours of fishing. Early in the morning Jesus greeted them from the shore asking if they have any fish. They reply, “No” and he tells them “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they do, they are unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

John (recognizing Jesus) says, “It is the Lord.” Peter jumps into the water and swims to shore. (So eager!) The other disciples follow in the boat, towing the net full of fish.

They have breakfast with Jesus on the shore and Scripture says, “None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord.” I think they knew it was Jesus, but they were ashamed of their failure – their abandonment of him after his arrest. And Peter was ashamed of denying him three times.

The Scripture continues (John 21:15-16 NIV)

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

          Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”   

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me.  

          He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

          The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

          Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” 

Jesus lovingly questions Peter’s commitment and he questions it three times to give Peter the opportunity to affirm his devotion three times – thus erasing the failure in Peter’s mind (already erased by the cross).

Peter is identified as the overseer of the church. Feed my lambs, feed my sheep, take care of my sheep – all refer to his being the shepherd entrusted to feed the Word to the sheep – to the Church.

Take time to read and study his Word today and teach it to those in your care.


Here’s another article by Dottie Parish which deals with post-resurrection appearances of Jesus: Resurrection Doubt? No, He’s Alive!