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Behind Locked Doors

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Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”


*HYMN OF PRAISE                                                                                #549

“O Day of Rest and Gladness”


*INVOCATION Father, we believe that in the beginning was the Word,   and the Word was with God,   and the Word was God, He was in the world, and the world came into being through him,    but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own,    and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him,    who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.    Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him,    Caiaphas condemned him, and Pilate sentenced him,    while the crowds yelled, "Crucify him!  Crucify him!" At Golgotha we nailed him to the cross,    while the soldiers cast lots for his clothes. We thought he was finished    when his body was laid in a garden tomb,    but early on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came running to tell that he was not there. Then Jesus appeared to Mary, and after that to the other disciples, and then again even to Thomas who had doubted. "Blessed are those who have not seen    and yet have come to believe," Jesus said. Now, thanks be to God,    we too believe    that Jesus is the Messiah,    the Son of God,    and that through believing    we may have life in his name.        Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.


*GLORIA PATRI (Sung together)                                                          #575

*PSALM FOR TODAY           (unison)                                   Psalm 150 (NRSV) 

1     Praise the Lord!  Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament!

2     Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness!

3     Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!

4     Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!

5     Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

6     Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord!


OFFERING TO GOD        (Rev 1:8 NLT)  ""I am the Alpha and the Omega--the beginning and the end," says the Lord God. "I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come, the Almighty One.""



        *PRAYER OF DEDICATION           O Lord, we pray that you would use these offerings in ways that would bring glory to your name.  


SCRIPTURE READING                                                      Acts 5:27-32 (NRSV)                     27 When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. 30 The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”


*HYMN OF PRAYER       # 1      “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty”

PASTORAL PRAYER "Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41

Praise God for... American Baptist Women as they work together with other American Baptist ministries on Children in Poverty and Human trafficking issues.

Ask God for... provision for the homeless and those facing foreclosure on their homes due to economic issues.

Thank God for… Ellen's restored health, and the bright promise she is experiencing at her new job.

Healing for... Steve, that the Good Shepherd will lead him to a place of rest and restoration for his body, mind, and soul.

Gracious and loving God, our prayers reach out today to all who are in need of your healing power. We pray for those who suffer from debilitating diseases. We pray for those who seek healing from broken relationships. Give strength to those who are going through the anguish of divorce, who are going through the conflicts within their families. Bring comfort to those who have lost a loved one. Fill the empty spaces of their lives with peace. Give them

a vision of adjustment and perspective to move ahead to a new plateau of living. We pray for all those who seek the healing of the human spirit. We pray for the surgeons, the doctors, the nurses, and others in the healing professions who bring their skills to help alleviate suffering.

Let your light shine on those who struggle through deep doubt and depression. Free us all of the burdens that we bring with us today—the feelings of anger, jealousy, fear, greed, or prejudice. Give us each a healthy soul, O Lord, and through worship, remove all the obstacles that prevent us from being closer to you and one with Christ.—George L. Davis

*HYMN OF PRAISE       # 130      “Tell Me the Story of Jesus”                           

Scripture Reading                                                      John 20:19-31 (NRSV)

19 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, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So 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.”

26 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, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then 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.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 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.


MESSAGE                                         Behind Locked Doors

The disciples have just gone through the most difficult weekend of their lives.  Jesus has been tried in a mock trial, // Jesus has been murdered in the most awful manner known in the ancient Roman world, // Jesus body has disappeared from the tomb. // The disciples are hopeful that Jesus is alive, but they are horrified by the possibility that some of the Jews might come after them.  As they huddle, frozen in fear, behind locked doors, they are not quite sure who they can trust, for Jesus is no longer with them as their leader and they are fearful for their lives and do not know about their future. // They recognized the bitterness of the Jews who had plotted against Jesus, and they were afraid that their turn would come next.  So they were meeting in terror, listening fearfully for every step on the stair and for every knock on the door, afraid that the Sanhedrin would send someone to arrest them also.

How did our Lord transform His disciples’ fear into courage? For one thing, He came to them.  In His resurrection body, He was able to enter the room without opening the doors! It was a solid body, for He asked them to touch Him—and He even ate some fish (Luke 24:41–43). But it was a different kind of body, one that was not limited by what we call “the laws of nature.”

His first word to them was the traditional greeting, “Shalom—peace!” He could have rebuked them for their unfaithfulness and cowardice the previous weekend, but He did not. The work of the cross is peace (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:14–17), and the message they would carry would be the Gospel of peace (Rom. 10:15). Man had declared war on God (Ps. 2; Acts 4:23–30), but God would declare “Peace!” to those who would believe.

Not only did Jesus come to them, but He reassured them. He showed them His wounded hands and side and gave them opportunity to discover that it was indeed their Master, and that He was not a phantom.

The wounds meant more than identification; they also were evidence that the price for salvation had been paid and man indeed could have “peace with God.” The basis for all our peace is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He died for us, He arose from the dead in victory, and now He lives for us. In our fears, we cannot lock Him out! He comes to us in grace and reassures us through His Word. When Jesus saw that the disciples’ fear had now turned to joy, He commissioned them: “As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you” (John 20:21). This was the dedication of His followers to the task of world evangelism. We are to take His place in this world (John 17:18). What a tremendous privilege and what a great responsibility! It is humbling to realize that Jesus loves us as the Father loves Him (John 15:9; 17:26), and that we are in the Father just as He is (John 17:21–22). It is equally as humbling to realize that He has sent us into the world just as the Father sent Him. As He was about to ascend to heaven, He again reminded them of their commission to take the message to the whole world (Matt. 28:18–20).

It must have given them great joy to realize that, in spite of their many failures, their Lord was entrusting them with His Word and His work. They had forsaken Him and fled, but now He was sending them out to represent Him. Peter had denied Him three times; and yet in a few days, Peter would preach the Word (and accuse the Jews of denying Him—Acts 3:13–14!) and thousands would be saved.

Jesus came to them and reassured them; but He also enabled them through the Holy Spirit. John 20:22 reminds us of Genesis 2:7 when God breathed life into the first man. In both Hebrew and Greek, the word for “breath” also means “spirit.” The breath of God in the first creation meant physical life, and the breath of Jesus Christ in the new creation meant spiritual life. The believers would receive the baptism of the Spirit at Pentecost and be empowered for ministry (Acts 1:4–5; 2:1–4). Apart from the filling of the Spirit, they could not go forth to witness effectively. The Spirit had dwelt with them in the person of Christ, but now the Spirit would be in them (John 14:17).

All of this means 1st: that Jesus needs the church.  Jesus had come into the world with a message for all humanity and now he was going back to His Father.  His message could never be taken to all people unless the Church, working together as his body, took it.  The Church was to be a mouth to speak for Jesus, feet to run his errands, hands to do his work.  JESUS IS DEPENDENT ON HIS CHURCH.  2nd:  It means that the Church needs Jesus.  People who are to be sent out need someone to send them; they need a message to take; they need power and authority to back their message; they need someone to whom they may turn when they are in doubt or in difficulty.  Without Jesus, the Church has no message; without him she has no power; without him she has nothing to instruct her mind, to strengthen her arm, or to encourage her heart.  THE CHURCH IS DEPENDENT ON JESUS.  3rd:  The sending out of the church by Jesus is parallel to the sending out of Jesus by God.  The relationship between Jesus and God was continually dependent on Jesus' perfect obedience and perfect love.  Jesus could be God's messenger only because he delivered to God that perfect obedience and love.  It follows that the Church is fit to be the messenger and the instrument of Christ only when she loves and obeys him.  The Church must never be out to communicate her own message; she must be out to communicate the message of Christ.  She must never be out to follow man-made policies; she must be out to follow the will of Christ.  THE CHURCH IS DEPENDENT ON LOVE AND OBEDIENCE TO GOD.

Are we as a local church dependent on God the Father, and God the Son or are we behind locked doors for fear of........

As the early believers went forth into the world, they announced the good news of salvation. If sinners would repent and believe on Jesus Christ, their sins would be forgiven them! “Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mark 2:7) All that the Christian can do is announce the message of forgiveness; God performs the miracle of forgiveness. If sinners will believe on Jesus Christ, we can authoritatively declare to them that their sins have been forgiven; but we are not the ones who provide the forgiveness.

By now, their fears had vanished. They were sure that the Lord was alive and that He was caring for them. They had both “peace with God” and the “peace of God” (Phil. 4:6–7). They had a high and holy commission and the power provided to accomplish it. And they had been given the great privilege of bearing the good news of forgiveness to the whole world. [1]

A week later, the next Sunday after the resurrection, the disciples (including Thomas) were again in a locked room (v. 26). Jesus’ appearances on Sundays, along with the timing of the resurrection itself, contributed to the church’s making that the primary day of worship (cf. Beasley-Murray 1987:385).

Faith throughout the Gospel is depicted as progressive, renewed in the face of each new revelation of Jesus. The other disciples have moved on to the next stage, but Thomas has not been able to. Thus, when Jesus appears in their midst he challenges Thomas to move on ahead in the life of faith, to stop doubting and believe (v. 27).

Thomas’s confession of Jesus as my Lord and my God is yet another climax in this Gospel. Jesus has invited him to catch up with the others in their new stage of faith, and he shoots past them and heads to the top of the class. His confession is climactic not only as part of the Gospel’s story line, but also as an expression of the core of John’s witness to Jesus in this Gospel. Thomas confesses Jesus as God when he sees that the crucified one is alive. It is in the crucifixion that God himself is made known, for he is love, and love is the laying down of one’s life (1 Jn 4:8; 3:16). But God is also life. In John, this God is revealed perfectly in the death of the Son, but this death would be nothing without the life. When Thomas finds death and life juxtaposed in Jesus he realizes who the one standing before him really is.[2]

*HYMN OF RESPONSE                                                                                # 96

“Praise Him! Praise Him!”


 *SENDING FORTH              Leader: Easter Sunday has come and gone, but the Easter season continues.

People: Let us prepare to meet the resurrected One again.

Leader: Disciples of Jesus, do not cower in fear in a locked room!

People: Let us throw open the doors to the risen Christ!

Leader: Christ gifts us with the Holy Spirit, a gentle breath on the cheek.

People: Let us worship God in spirit and truth!






[1]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Jn 20:19

[2]Whitacre, Rodney A.: John. Downers Grove, Ill. : InterVarsity Press, 1999 (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series 4), S. 482

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