2018-19 RCL-C Second Sunday of Easter
Additional Resources for Proclamation & Preaching
Easter 02: April 28, 2019 • Gospel Text: John 20:19-31
Counsel The Doubtful
Proclamation for Today
by Rev. Dr. Clint Schnekloth
Let’s turn this text around. Point out that it’s the disciples other than Thomas who are hiding in fear. We label Thomas as the doubting one, but in point of fact it is Thomas who is out and about. We don’t know what he is about, but we know he isn’t hiding. When he does return the following week and places his hands in the wounds of the resurrected Christ, he jumps right on past “we have seen the Lord” into actually doxology: My Lord and my God!
Over the course of my career as pastor, I’ve been in countless conversations that went like this. “I wish I could believe. I’ve hoped to believe for a very long time, but it just isn’t given to me. I wonder if I just saw something, heard something, maybe that would change.” There’s a unique and remarkably honest kind of person who admits their struggle with faith, or even articulates clearly that they believe they’ve never been given faith.
That in itself is a very faithful observation, the willingness to state the perceived lack of a gift. Remember the basic statement in Luther’s Small Catechism, “I believe that I cannot by my own understanding believe in Jesus Christ or come to him… but the Holy Spirit calls me through the gospel, enlightens me with its gifts, and keeps me in the one true faith. So the doubters, the open non-believers, quite frequently articulate their theology better than tacit, habitual religious folk who participate in community but rarely interrogate their own beliefs.
That is to say, the average person in any faith community is like the disciples: huddled together, a bit fearful, needing a word of peace, willing to rejoice when they see clearly the Lord. But then there is a whole other kind of disciple, the ones not gathered, the ones like Thomas who after the resurrection went back out into the world and lived “as if” there were no resurrection, yet through their life in the world also lived “as if” they were practicing resurrection. These ones demand to place their hands in the wounds.
And the wounds are of significance. Thomas anticipates the resurrected body would retain the wounds. Perhaps Thomas more than the others had been busy out in the world ministering to woundedness. If the Christ is resurrected, it is not simply his appearance after death that convinces Thomas that Jesus is the Lord: it is his wounds. By his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 55:3). In this sense, Thomas’ doubt becomes a sublimated and doubled faith, faith shining precisely in the doubt. The new wounds will be our lack of seeing. We might even go so far as to say that Christ is visible especially in his invisibility, that we see in our unseeing. But to go that far, you’ll have to travel out with the mystics, like The Cloud of Unknowing, or Christian Wiman’s My Bright Abyss.
The following links and resources are not produced or maintained by RCL Worship Resources or Clergy Stuff. However, at the time of this posting, the links were active and considered to be good source material for proclamation for the text for this week. Please scroll down or click on the quick jump menu you find below. Click here for more free RCL worship resources & planning materials.
Historical Exegetical Resources
"The Fruit of Faith," John 20:19-31, Martin Luther, c. 1525
"Of True Godliness," John 20:19-31, Martin Luther, c. 1525
From Wesley's Notes
The People's New Testament, B.W. Johnson, 1891
Commentary, John 20:19-23 | Ben Cremer | Pastor, Boise, Euclid Ave. Church of the Nazarene | A Plain Account, 2017
Commentary, Jaime Clark-Soles, John 20:19-31, Preaching This Week, WorkingPreacher.org, 2017.
"John 20 tells us that Jesus appeared to some of his most important disciples “on the first day of the week. "
Commentary, Robert Hoch, John 20:19-31, Preaching This Week, WorkingPreacher.org, 2016.
"One might look at this entire chapter as recounting just how sturdy the tomb is in our creaturely thinking. "
"Blessed Doubt," David Lose, ...in the meantime, 2016
"The Disciple of Doubt," Dan Clendenin, Journey with Jesus, 2016. "And not all those who believed saw him after his resurrection. Thomas was an exception..."
A Good Read
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Dramatic Reading of the Text
Readers: Narrator, Jesus, Disciple, Thomas
Narrator: When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said,
Jesus: “Peace be with you.”
Narrator: After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again,
Jesus: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Narrator: When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
Jesus: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Narrator: But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him,
Disciples “We have seen the Lord.”
Narrator: But he said to them,
Thomas: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
Narrator: A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said,
Jesus: “Peace be with you.”
Narrator: Then he said to Thomas,
Jesus: “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”
Narrator: Thomas answered him,
Thomas: “My Lord and my God!”
Narrator: Jesus said to him,
Jesus: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Narrator: Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.