Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, all of God’s children will be raised again, in the twinkling of an eye, and we will be transformed from dead corpses to living, breathing, glorified, never-to-die again living people. What a glorious day that will be. But did you know that there are blessings that were given to us and that we can enjoy here and now because of Jesus’ resurrection?
1. The Resurrection Dispels Fear, and Replaces It with Peace (vv. 19-21a)
Verse 19 tells us that it is the evening of the resurrection. Most of us are going to celebrate the resurrection today. But the first Easter Sunday was not filled with Christians celebrating—they were hiding. They had locked the doors behind them, fearful and unsure about what to do. The reports the women brought back were confusing, to say the least and they had no idea if the religious leaders were cooking up another plot to purge Jerusalem of the followers of Jesus. So it is not surprising to find them huddled together for safety, locked in a room. But doors and locks can’t stop Jesus. We are not alone, he is still with us.
In John 14:19, Jesus had told them, “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”
For a little while (3 days) they did not see Jesus. But now they saw him. He appeared right before their eyes so that there was no doubt that he was alive. And what were his first words to the gathered saints? “Peace be with you.” Jesus knew the turmoil that raged inside their hearts. And just as he could calm the wind and the waves with is words, his presence among them also brought peace. As Paul reminds us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31). Jesus is alive. He still dispels fear and offers peace to us. His resurrection conquers the fear of death and the wrath to come. It promises all who will repent of their sins and turn to Christ in faith that he will give to them peace with God. God will give forgiveness of sins and shower his love upon those who trust in him alone.
2. The Resurrection Disperses the Faithful (vv. 21b-22)
You know, I’ve seen death separate many families, including my own. In many families, a mother or grandmother is like the glue that keeps everyone together, especially during the holidays. But when she dies, often the family begins to drip apart from one another. It’s a sad reality. Death disperses a family.
But here is a curious result not of death, but of Jesus’ resurrection. His resurrection caused his disciples to disperse. Christ’s death and resurrection brought satisfaction for God’s wrath against our sin. His saving work was done. But the work of the disciples had only begun. Jesus had done his work on the cross, but the disciples would need to go into the world and share the message of the gospel with sinful men. And from the point of view of these terrified disciples, that must have seemed like an impossible task. But Jesus had given them his peace and promised the Holy Spirit. His words pointed forward 40 days to the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit would bring power and boldness for the Great Commission.
With confidence in the risen Lord, the Church now moves from a safe place to boldly declare the truth of Jesus Christ. God the Father sent Jesus on a mission—he had an aim and a purpose—and so do all his disciples.
Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” We have a mission and the power to carry this mission out-the Holy Spirit. Jesus is alive and we ought to tell someone!
3. The Resurrection Dispenses Forgiveness (v. 23)
This verse can be misunderstood to teach that Jesus is giving to Christians the right to forgive sins. But only God has the power and prerogative to do that. So what is he talking about? Jesus is telling his disciples that when we disperse into the world with the gospel message, it is that message that points people to Jesus—the only one who can forgive and wash away the stains of sin and guilt. If the gospel message is received with faith in Christ alone, God will assuredly forgive the sins of those who receive the message as delivered by Jesus’ faithful disciples.
But the opposite is true as well. If acceptance of the gospel delivered by Christians is acceptance and forgiveness by God, then we need to realize that when the messengers and their message are rejected, that God and his Son’s sacrifice are also being rejected. Forgiveness of sins and peace with God are also rejected.
Do you remember those things called typewriters? For you kids out there, those were keyboards and printers all wrapped into one. If you remember typewriters, then you remember that there was no “back” button and you probably remember “White Out.” It was that magical bottle of white liquid that could be brushed over a typing error. Then you could go back and type little there was no error.
Forgiveness is like whiteout. This world doesn’t offer “do-overs,” but God does. Jesus’ blood is like “white-out” for your soul. It covers over all your sins and makes it like you never sinned…ever! Jesus’ death on the cross bought that forgiveness!
4. The Resurrection Deepens Flimsy Faith (vv. 24-28)
Thomas is probably most famous for this embarrassing incident. He had missed the earlier appearance of Jesus to the other disciples and having heard their story he had his doubts. And before we jump on poor Thomas, think about what we are talking about here.
My friend lost his grandfather a couple of weeks ago. I went to his funeral. But what if someone told me that good old Bill had just been by the house and I just missed him? “Come on,” I’d say. “Dead people stay dead. He’s up in Rose Hills. Nobody leaves the cemetery. Nobody.” They don’t lock the gates of Green Hills Memorial Park to keep people in, do they? So, when Thomas has his doubts, I can totally understand. And it wasn’t just a lack of faith. Nobody expected Jesus to rise again. So, his doubt is understandable.
But as we read, Jesus did rise again and he showed up again among the disciples, but this time when Thomas was there. And again he had to calm them and give them his peace. After all, Jesus once again appeared back from the dead and in a locked room.
How many of us have had thoughts of doubt and a lack of faith? We’ve doubted the goodness and kindness of God. We’ve doubted his ability or willingness to forgive our sins. We’ve doubted his love for us. We’ve doubted his power to heal or his power to answer our prayers. So, are we really in a position to point fingers at Thomas?
But to his credit, Thomas’ lack of faith melted away. Look again at verse 28. Although we don’t know any more about Thomas, Church tradition says that Thomas continued to preach the gospel and went as far away as Kerala, India where he brought the gospel to a group that today are called Nasrani or Saint Thomas Christians. Thomas’ flimsy faith was made solid by the resurrection of Christ. Although we cannot see Christ in the flesh as the disciples did, we shall one day see him clearly: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1Cor. 13:12 ).
By focusing on the reality of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our faith is bolstered and we are placed back on track.