Our Gospel lesson is John 20:19-31, taken today from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).
So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
“As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” Jesus tells the disciples that He has chosen them to carry on the work of bringing the world back to God. He came to save us all, but also to teach us to live in harmony with each other. When we use the gifts we have been given, we become part of God’s plan to redeem His creation.
Our lives are intended to be more than just seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. God created us for a higher purpose and He calls us to live abundantly in Him. Through our connection to the Father we are blessed with an understanding that our existence here is only temporary, and that He has greater things in store for us.
We know that God made us in His own image that we might have a special relationship. Jesus came to restore that connection if we are willing to admit our faults and accept God’s forgiveness. When we receive this blessing we are empowered to go in His name to share His love.
Gracious God, we are sorry for the behavior that leads us into sin and away from You. Help us to face our mistakes honestly that we may live new lives through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.