In “preaching study” posts, I’m really interested in fostering a “community” approach to study and prep for the sermon, so please interact as much as you like. All Scripture quotes are from the TNIV unless otherwise noted. Thanks!
I’m preaching this week in the traditional worship services at my church on the lectionary gospel reading, John 20:19-31.
Let me offer a few thoughts now and hopefully more to come as I continue studying and reflecting on this passage and the sermon for this Sunday.
The 3 major sections are as indicated in my bible by the paragraph headings:
vv19-23 – Jesus appears to the disciples, gift of the Spirit
vv24-29 – Jesus appears to Thomas
vv30-31 – The aim of John’s Gospel–belief and life for the readers/hearers
I’ve preached the first two passages individually, and that is tempting to do again, but I’m interested in the connections this time around. Not just the literary context ones (as in the importance of vv19-23 for reading Jesus’ interaction with Thomas in vv24-29 well), but the theological connections that make the whole of vv19-31 more than the sum of its major parts.
In vv19-23, Jesus appears to the disciples (v19), which (a) confirms reports of his resurrection (v20), (b) has him commission them for carrying on his ministry (vv21, 23), and (c) gift them with the Holy Spirit, presumably for that purpose (v22, arguably John’s “Pentecost”).
In vv24-29, Jesus returns, seemingly because Thomas has asked for the same revelatory experience that the rest of the disciples had (v20, 25). This time, Jesus uses the occasion to make a transition in the life of those will come to faith—Belief with have to come without sight (v29).
In vv30-31, John states the purpose of his gospel as recording these parts of the life of Christ with the aim of producing and/or building up belief in the gospel’s readers/hearers —a belief that will yield life in Christ’s name.
These are the summaries of each passage; where are the theological connections? I’ve already begun to think of some, but I’ve got some time constraints so I’ll continue thinking through them and offer them later in another post.
Thoughts so far?