September 19, 2021
WE HAVE A SAVIOR WHO UNDERSTANDS
One of the most important things you need to understand about our Lord, Jesus Christ, is that We Have a Savior Who Understands. No matter what you do or where you go, or how you act toward God, He will always love you, because… we have a Savior who understands.
Some of the best evidence of this is found in the Gospel of John in three separate scenes. Let’s start in John 20:19 – On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (768)
We are seeing that first Easter Sunday, the Disciples were locked away, with some other followers, in the “Upper Room,” while they were waiting to see what would happen next. While they were waiting to see if they were going to be next, to be arrested and crucified, Jesus appeared in their midst.
His first action is to quiet their hearts, “Peace be with you!” He always offered Peace to them, and to us. In this phrase “Peace be with you” is more than just saying it, it is an active phrase the implies the Peace is Imbued into the object of the statement. In other words, Christ’s Peace injected into, and meant to inspire those receiving it. He then showed them His hands and His side, I can’t imagine what might have been going through their minds. Most of them had been in His presence before, even followed Him around, for months, if not years. But, this was a difficult, different kind of experience, the risen Christ, standing before them. Jesus did two things, because He understood the circumstances, He spoke Peace to them, then He showed them His scars.
Of course, there was one notable person who was not in the Upper Room that night, the Disciples Thomas. We don’t know where He was, but without His absence Jesus would not have had the opportunity to come back the next week and give us more information about Who Jesus is.
In 20:24 the others told Thomas about what had happened Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
Thomas was skeptical. That’s how we remember Thomas, isn’t it, the doubter. Thomas didn’t just want to see Jesus again, he said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” That’s pretty strong. However, the next week, on Sunday evening, in the same Upper Room, they were all locked away again, this time with Thomas. Again, the Lord appeared in the locked room. 20:26-27 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Again, He had offered Himself for examination, this time to Thomas, directly. (20:27b) So, I guess it was Jesus who tagged Thomas with the doubting nickname, however I think we should tread lightly when talking about others doubting, unless, of course, you have never doubted.
There is one more place I want to look at while we are talking about Jesus understanding. Let’s look in the Gospel of John 21:1-9 – Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
As Jesus is walking along the shoreline He is recognized by John and Peter, who were out fishing in a boat on the sea. As usual, Peter jumps in with both feet and swims ashore while the others bring the boat. By the time they get ashore, Jesus is cooking breakfast over a fire. He says to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” (21:10b) I read this as Him saying to me, “Bring what you have and put it with what I have.” Wouldn’t each of us like to hear that. He fills in the gaps we have as we put what little we have with all He has.
There is an overarching story here that I don’t want anyone to miss. On the first night we saw Jesus appearing to the Disciples, that first Easter night, He offered Himself for “inspection” so to speak. He eased the atmosphere and refueled their hearts. They were feeling very low by that point. Their leader had been Crucified, His Body was gone, and they had no idea what would come next. Probably a knock on the door by Roman soldiers.
But then, He came back the very next Sunday, offering Himself to Thomas. He had calmed the room on His first appearance, then on the second appearance he comforted one of the Disciples who needed it most. He could have said, “Thomas, why the doubts, didn’t everyone else tell you about last week?” But He didn’t, did He? He gave Thomas what he needed, personal attention. He understood Thomas and gave him what he needed.
Then, in the last scene in Chapter 21, after breakfast comes the Sunday school lesson. I can see Him taking Peter for a walk down the beach. I can see Jesus putting his arm around Peter’s big shoulders, drawing Him close in conversation. “Peter, do you love Me?… Peter, do you love Me?… But, Peter, do you really love me?” How many times was it that Peter denied Jesus on the night Jesus was arrested? 3! And how many chances did Jesus give Peter to say he loved Him? 3! Now Jesus, knowing Peter’s heart, is restoring Peter to the place all of us can find ourselves, in full Communion with Him.
Jesus understood the fear in the hearts of His followers, He quieted their fears. He knew Thomas needed a little more, and He knew Peter needed even more. Then, and there, on the beach he restored Peter, He knew what Peter needed.
Jesus knows what you need in your life, in your walk with Him. He knows the depths of your belief. He knows the shallow places also and He helps you fill them in. He Understood the Disciples needed Peace and Comfort. He Understood Thomas needed a personal touch for his Faith, and he received it.
Jesus knows where your faith is. He Understands your lack of Faith from time-to-time. He Understands when we fail. He Understands when we are shallow. He Understands when we deny. He Understands.
You see… We Have a Savior Who Understands.
Bostwick UMC 6/23/19
There was once a little boy walking along a country road near his grandmother’s, whom he was spending the summer with. As he walked he saw a sign on a fence post saying, “Puppies for sale.” Well, you know how little boys and puppies are, so he made his way down the dirt driveway, toward a farmer’s house and barn. He saw the farmer working on his tractor near the barn so he asked the farmer if he could see the puppies. The farmer said sure, so they walked over toward the dog lot. The farmer called the momma dog out and the puppies came scampering along behind her. Then another smaller puppy came stumbling out of the doghouse and ran as fast as it could, but it couldn’t keep up. It stumbled a time or two and finally made it to the fence. The little boy stuck his fingers through the fence and the puppies fell all over themselves for his attention. Except for the little one who got there last. It just sat to one side and watched his brothers and sisters. So, the little boy reached over to let that little puppy have some attention, and it lit up like a light bulb, like no one had ever paid attention to him. The little boy looked up at the farmer and said, “If I could get one of these puppies, this is the one I would want. The old farmer looked at him and said, “No one will want that puppy, you see, he’s the runt of the litter. He will never run straight or long. His legs will always be weak, and he won’t grow to be very big.” The little boy replied, “But sir, he is the one I want.” With that the little boy stood up and raised his pant legs to show the farmer the braces on his legs that allowed him to walk. He looked at the farmer and said, “You see, he’s the one I would want, because he would understand.”
You see, no matter what your weaknesses are, no matter where you need braces, Jesus Understands. He always has. He always will.