Blessed to be a blessing to others
Devotional for the week of April 11th, 2021
As it was for the disciples in today’s reading, our unaddressed fears can get in the way of our recognizing what Jesus is doing in our midst
The disciples had good reason to be afraid. Their teacher, perceived as a threat to social, political, and religious order, had just been crucified; now with rumors swirling about his mysterious resurrection, it wasn’t clear if Jesus’ followers would face the same dire fate on a cross. Today, most of us, fortunately, can live without fear regarding when and where we are able to worship. At the same time, when we take a moment to look at the world around us, it doesn’t take long to notice what a strong influence fear has on our lives.
Fear not of things like tornadoes or spiders or bats, but rather fear of things that keep our hearts closed off from others and God and that keep our truest selves locked up inside. As it was for the disciples in today’s reading, our unaddressed fears can get in the way of our recognizing what Jesus is doing in our midst. They turn us in toward ourselves rather than outward toward those who could be blessed by our gifts and who need our care and love. They keep us from growing in our relationship with God and as the people God has created us to be.
Although it can be scary to acknowledge our fear of being inadequate or of losing control or of being alone, or whatever our deepest fear may be, when we do, that’s when something powerful can happen. A sense of peace and joy is never far away. Not only are we released from our fear, but giving voice to our fears can set others free from theirs as well.
When Jesus appeared to those first disciples locked together behind closed doors, he came offering peace, and he breathed on them the Holy Spirit. In that moment their lives were changed—forever, and for good. The same is true for us when we dare to surrender our fears to God and embrace God’s future for us with courage.
Devotional message and art based on the readings for April 11th, reprinted from sundaysandseasons.com
GOSPEL READING: John 20:19-31
The story of Easter continues as the risen Jesus appears to his disciples. His words to Thomas offer a blessing to all who entrust themselves in faith to the risen Lord.
19When 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, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “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.”
26A 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, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But 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.