In today’s podcast, we turn to John 20:19-31 and one of the post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus. This story centers on one of the apostles, Thomas the Twin, who is sometimes called Doubting Thomas.
It begins a week earlier, when Jesus appears to the disciples, showing them that he is alive. However, Thomas is not present and has to hear about it from the others. When they tell him that they have seen Jesus, he says, “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.” Then one week later, Jesus comes again, and this time Thomas is there. Jesus does exactly as Thomas asked and shows him his hands and his side. Seeing this, Thomas exclaims, “My Lord and my God.”
This story is one of the most relevant to us today, because following Jesus means giving our lives to someone we have not met in the flesh. That the Bible addresses doubt and faith so soon after the Resurrection tells us how important this topic is.
Join us around the virtual table as we talk about what it means to believe, how doubt can lead us deeper into faith, and how Jesus empowers us to follow him.
In today’s podcast, we are celebrating the defining mystery of our Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Our reading from John 20 captures everything of this profound moment in history.
When we join this story, Jesus has been crucified at the hands of the authorities. His followers have taken his body and buried it in a cave-like tomb and rolled a large stone over the opening to seal it. A day passes as they sink into grief and bewilderment. How could the one they believed to be the messiah have died so horribly?
The next day, in the early morning while it is still dark, one of Jesus’ disciples, Mary Magdalene, comes to the tomb. She is horrified to find that the stone has been rolled away. Her first thought is that someone has actually desecrated the grave by taking the body of Jesus.
As Mary waits, sobbing, outside the tomb, she sees a person she thinks is the gardener and begs him to show her where Jesus is. Then this mysterious figure speaks her name simply: Mary. With this, she recognizes that he is Jesus, very much alive.
The moment Jesus rose is the hinge on which everything else turns. It is the reason for our hope, and the source of our joy. Please join us around the virtual table as we reflect on the Easter story and the meaning of resurrection. Alleluia, Christ is risen!
In today’s podcast, we jump nine chapters ahead fromlast week to John 12:20-33, which looks toward the crucifixion through the image of a grain of wheat that dies.
The passage starts with some people from outside the Jewish faith wanting to talk with Jesus. This is a symbolic moment in Jesus’ ministry. It leads to a reflection on the deeper meaning of what he is working to accomplish.
Jesus starts to look ahead to his painful death on the cross using the metaphor of a seed. A grain of wheat must be buried in the ground to die before it bears life. Similarly, we are all to see ourselves in the grain of wheat that dies. This leads to a conversation between Jesus and God the Father that some hear as thunder from Heaven. Then, Jesus gives a final reflection that his death is not just a tragedy, but it is the judgement of the world, drawing all people to Christ through the cross.
Join us on this final Sunday in Lent around the virtual table as we plumb the rich depths of this reading, exploring the significance of Jesus’ upcoming death and what it means to ‘die to oneself’.
In today’s podcast we are looking at a passage from the Gospel of John that contains perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.
The passage flows out of a conversation between Jesus and a religious leader named Nicodemus. Our topic for the podcast today comes from this longer passage, John 3:14-21. It hangs on an important question: how to we know heavenly things? And more specifically, how do we attain to eternal life? The answer of the passage is through Jesus.
To help us understand it, the speaker points us back to a much earlier episode in Israelite history. It is a story where, centuries earlier, people were being bitten by poisonous snakes and getting sick. Moses was instructed to put an image of a snake on a pole. Then, if the Israelites looked at it, they would be healed. By referring back to this story, the Gospel of John is telling us that if we look to Jesus and believe in him, we too will be spiritually healed and receive eternal life.
Join us around the virtual table as we talk about what “God so loved the world” has to say about condemnation and love, staying close to God, and what it really means to believe.
Many people hold an image of Jesus as a wise teacher who is kindly and serene. This week’s passage, the story of Jesus and the money changers in John 2:13-22, seems to work against that. In this story, Jesus goes into the temple of God. There, he finds that rather being a place of prayer, it has become a place where people are buying and selling.
He goes into the temple grounds and starts overturning tables filled with coins, shouting at people and driving the animals out. He says, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” This is serious stuff. Join us around the virtual table as we discuss worship, justice, and keeping the main thing the main thing, through the lens of this challenging incident.
Peace be with you! I think everyone wants to hear this statement. The desire for peace comes up again and again when I talk with people about what they are really looking for. I too keep looking for peace in my day.
Peace Be With You
This phrase “Peace be with you” comes from a story in the Gospel of John. It takes place just after the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Imagine a room filled with the twelve disciples and some others. They are scared and confused. Their teacher Jesus has been killed horribly. Some carry the guilt of having run away from him. They had been sure God was going to do something through Jesus, but now even that hope was in tatters. They have locked the doors because they are afraid that they too are about to be arrested. There is weeping and prayers of anguish.
Suddenly, Jesus stands in the midst of them and says Peace be with you. When the disciples get over their shock, they are overjoyed. They can’t contain it. What a transformation in the room! Jesus doesn’t just speak peace to them, but he is that peace, himself, in his person. And then he sends them out into the world, saying, “Just as the Father sent me, so I send you.” He charges them with bringing that same peace to the world.
The Impact of the Gospel Comes through the Person of Jesus
The peace of Jesus is different. It is a deep and transformative peace that made the disciples able to do things that they would never have imagined possible. This is a powerful peace (“Shalom”) of wholeness and harmony.
Do you want this peace? I ask this question because God’s peace impacts and changes us inside. But this peace of Christ is also part of something bigger than us: God’s plan to bring healing and wholeness to the world. This is what the Scriptures call the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). Another term for this is the Gospel.
The Gospel Transforms
“Gospel” is one of these words that we hear so often that it can lose its force. But the point of the Gospel is that it has profound spiritual power. It has the power to fill your soul and connect you with God.
The Gospel is God speaking to us in a new language: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In Jesus, we see God’s love embodied. The Gospel is a message that captivates, calls, challenges, delights, and transforms us.
For the disciple of Christ, the Gospel can’t just be words on a page. It has to be a message that ripples through our lives and changes our hearts. You need to know that you are loved by God more than you can possibly imagine. Does the Gospel impact your life?
This is based on a talk from our 2021 Lenten learning series, Re-boot Your Spiritual Life. You can watch it here:
In our last reflection in this series, we looked at Justice as central to building up Treasure in Heaven. It is part of the triad of virtues — Justice, Mercy, and Faith — that Jesus highlights as ‘the weightier matters of the law’ by which we should be all be ‘weighing’ our actions (Matthew 23:23). Today, we are going to look at Mercy.
You cannot overstate the importance of mercy in both Jesus’ ministry and the Christian life. This is because mercy is central to the character of God. Pope Francis even wrote a book called The Name of God is Mercy. The most important thing about God may be God’s mercy. We will look at God’s mercy through two snapshots from Jesus’ life.