A Special Child

When Joey, our oldest son, was five years old we signed him up for an instructional soccer league.  At one of Joey's first practices, the coach broke the large group of boys and girls into teams.  Joey quickly demonstrated a knack for dribbling a soccer ball that most of the other kids didn't seem to have yet.  Before long Joey was scoring goals almost at will.  Even placing him on defense didn't slow him down as he ended up with seven goals.  One of the father's observing this, commented to me about Joey saying, "He's intense!"  The thought crossed my mind that Joey might be special.  This plays out in the Gospel this week as well. 

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son.  Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her.  When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, "No. He will be called John."  But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name."  So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.  He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed.  Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.  Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea.  All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, "What, then, will this child be?"  For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.  The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.  Luke 1:57-66, 80

Some context is important here.  Elizabeth was barren and both (she and Zechariah her husband) were advanced in years, so her pregnancy was special.  Additionally, the naming of the baby was also unusual.  The expectation to give children the "family" name was a powerful one in biblical times.  No one would have blinked an eye if Elizabeth's son had been named after his father, Zechariah.  This progression of events pointed to something special about baby John as everyone wondered, "What, then, will this child be?"  

Later in Luke's Gospel, as John has actually faded from the scene, Jesus makes a profound statement about him.  "I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John..."  Elizabeth and Zechariah's little John became the forerunner of Jesus, the Christ.  He really was special but as Jesus followed up this pronouncement about John He said,  "yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."  In other words, special in God's eyes is very different from that of the world.

Joey was a special soccer player when he was young.  But he never even played varsity soccer in high school.  "What, then, will this child be?"  Joey's natural intensity and passion have made him an exceptional 8th-grade math teacher.  He also revived his school's soccer program in just a couple of short years.  He impacts the lives of impressionable, underprivileged kids in ways he probably will never know.  John the Baptist became the person God had created him to be.  I love knowing that Joey is doing the same.  I wonder about how well I'm doing on the same account.  How about you? 

A Happy Ending?

Everyone loves a good story, right?  Did you hear the one about the raccoon climbing up the outside of a skyscraper in St. Paul Minnesota?  It was first reported by Minnesota Public Radio News and quickly became an internet sensation.  The raccoon's story began trending on social media with the hashtag #mprraccoon.  Some people were reported as following the story until 2:30 in the morning when the raccoon was finally captured.  Why were so many people captivated by this story and how does it apply to this week's Gospel?

Jesus said to the crowds:  “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.  Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”

He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it?  It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.  But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and  puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”  With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.  Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.  Mark 4:26-34

In 46 different instances, Jesus uses parables to deliver His message.  In these particular ones, Jesus speaks to the growth cycle of the Kingdom of God.  As is typical, there is dual meaning in Jesus' stories.  The literal meaning of the message is meant for the "general" consumption of the crowds.  The symbolic or deeper meaning was saved for the disciples. 

What were the crowds seeking as they listened to Jesus?  We never really know.  What we do know is that it is a part of human nature to be captivated by a "good" story.  Here is a photo of people who stopped to watch the raccoon in Minnesota.   

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With their eyes turned upward they wait to find out whether or not the raccoon will make it.  Is that why we follow these stories, with hope for a happy ending?  Or is there something deeper at work?  Jesus understood that not everyone sought the deeper meaning that His "stories" contained.  The bottom line for you and me as His followers is that we need to seek to understand Jesus' message.  This is true as we observe and live life.  With our eyes turned upwards we look to the Kingdom of God and the happy ending that awaits us.

It's Not Fake News

Do you watch the nightly news?  I haven't in years.  We stopped having the newspaper delivered to our house as well.  It all seems so depressing to me so I limit my intake of the news.  In order to keep from living with my head in the sand, once a day I check the news app on my phone.  Imagine how our information overloaded culture would have treated Jesus' message.  How would this week's Gospel message have been filtered down to us? 

Jesus came home with his disciples.  Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat.  When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."  The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "By the prince of demons he drives out demons."  Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, "How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.  And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him.  But no one can enter a strong man's house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man.  Then he can plunder the house.  Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them.  But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin."  For they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."

His mother and his brothers arrived.  Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.  A crowd seated around him told him, "Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you."  But he said to them in reply, "Who are my mother and my brothers?"  And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."  Mark 3:20-35

Jesus' relatives, hearing of the crowds around Him, tried to seize Him.  The scribes spoke of Jesus as possessed by the devil.  Jesus' responded in typical fashion, with a parable.  The message in HIs parable certainly did nothing to calm the noise surrounding Jesus.  He then responds to the crowd with a surely perplexing answer about His mother and brothers and sisters.  Finally Jesus points everything back to His Father.  "For whoever does the will of God..."  

Stop and think about how this event in Jesus' life might have been reported today.  Well, depending on where you got your news it could have been spun in a number of different ways.  In fact, with access to the internet, it's pretty easy to find news that fits what we want to hear.  How then do we interpret this challenging Gospel message?  I believe it is by focusing on the core of Jesus' message... "For whoever does the will of God."  That is the Good News!  

The Commencement Speaker

We just attended our nephew's commencement ceremony as he graduated from high school.  Of course, the message of being prepared for the future was a common theme amongst the various speakers.  Seeing the potential of each graduate as they walked across the stage was inspiring but I found myself wondering what the future held for these 18 year-olds?  Preparation is also part of the message in this week's Gospel.   

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?"  He sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water.  Follow him.  Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"'  Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.  Make the preparations for us there."  The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.  While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take it; this is my body."  Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it.  He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.  Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."  Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.  Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

Preparing for the Passover meal was a regular occurrence for these Jewish men.  What they could not have been ready for were Jesus' words during the meal.  "This is my body."  And if that wasn't unexpected enough, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many."  More importantly, there could be no preparing for the actuality of what the disciples would experience as Jesus' words came to pass.  Jesus was describing a unique experience and no matter what He told the disciples they simply could not be prepared for their coming future.  They were about to "commence" a new journey.  In time, the disciples thought back on Jesus' words at the Passover supper they eventually came to realize that He had not only prepared them for their future but was providing for them as well.   

Commencement speakers try to give the perfect advice to the graduating class.  Young, idealistic graduates are told they have been prepared for the journey ahead.  In reality, there is no way they can know what awaits them.  It is important for them to remember that the foundation has been laid in their school and family experience.  But life can be full of surprises, many unpleasant.  That is why we need to trust in Jesus' "commencement" words.  Only He prepares us and provides us what we need for our journey with God, His body and blood!

No Doubts!!

Do you have doubts?  Me too.  We all do about one thing or another.  Why is that?  Did you know that the very first thing Satan said in the Book of Genesis was intended to create doubt?  He said to Eve,  "Did God really say?"  Doubt has been a part of our common human condition since the beginning of time.  We read about doubt throughout the Bible.  In the New Testament, we frequently read about the disciples' doubt.  In this week's Gospel, it appears at a significant moment in time.

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.  When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.  Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."  Matthew 28:16-20

In this case, the disciples' doubt occurs concurrently with their worship.  How is that possible?  When the resurrected Jesus appears their first response is to worship Him.  And then they doubt.  Jesus' response to their worship and doubt?  As God, He commissions them to "go" and do for God.  Then Jesus concludes with a statement that leaves no doubt.  "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."  

Doubt originated in the Garden of Eden.  Doubt is the human part of our relationship with God.  But as we see here in Jesus' concluding statement, there is no doubt in God.  He is always and forever with us.  If we are honest with ourselves, it is natural to doubt that things are going to work out the way we want.  What do we do with our doubts?  We must rely on the words of Jesus, "I am with you always, until the end of the age." That leaves no doubt!        

The Rest of the Story

The oncologist had gone to examine the blood samples I had given upon arriving at his office.  The 20 minutes that Maria and I sat waiting seemed like an eternity.  He finally returned and sat down on his wheeled stool without making eye contact which caused no small amount of alarm.  The doctor had a message for us that he did not seem in a hurry to share.  We braced for the bad news.  Eventually, he looked up at our concerned faces and immediately apologized.  His hesitation came, not from what he could tell us, but what he could not.  I didn't have cancer but he could not tell me what was causing my seriously debilitating symptoms.  In this week's Gospel Jesus holds back some of His news.

Jesus said to his disciples:  "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.  And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.  But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.  He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.  He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.  Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."  John 15:26-27, 16:12-15

Jesus is sharing these words with His disciples on the night He was arrested.  They have no idea what awaits Him and themselves in the coming days.  The essence of Jesus' message is that the things that are about to happen are necessary.  They are not yet ready to hear the bad news. He does tell them the good news. In time His Spirit will come in truth.  Jesus clearly states that the Holy Spirit will "declare" what is to come.  In that time they will come to understand why everything happened the way it did. 

With hindsight, we know that Jesus' promise of the Spirit brings the ability and courage to "declare" His Good News to the world.  But the disciples were hearing these words without knowing the rest of the story.  They had to wait, just as Maria and I awaited the news of the doctor.  The uncertainty was deeply disconcerting.  While uncertainty is a part of our journey with God we are blessed to know the rest of the story.   Receive the Good News and declare it with the confidence that His Spirit brings.  As for me, I am healthy!  But you'll have to stay tuned to the Weekly Journey to hear the rest of the story!  

Get To Work!

I had a conversation with my brother yesterday where he excitedly told me about his pending graduation.  Jeffrey has gone back to school in order to start a second career.  As a highly thought of student, he is receiving job recommendations from his instructors.  I asked him what he was looking for in his new career and employer.   He made it clear that he wants to work for a company that will provide a mentor for him as well as a chance to grow professionally.  We see this same dynamic in this week's Gospel:  

Jesus said to his disciples:  “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.  These signs will accompany those who believe:  in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages.  They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.  They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.  But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.  Mark 16:15-20

Jesus has very high expectations of His followers.  He details some of the things that they can expect to see after He departs.  Surely they marveled at His words and more importantly at the actual signs as they occurred.  There is a pattern here that is important.  Jesus predicts what will happen.  The disciples go forth in faith preaching Jesus' Good News.  Jesus comes through on His prediction.  There is one element of this pattern that can't be overlooked.  Note the phrase, "...while the Lord worked with them".  Jesus is actively engaged with His followers to bring about His purposes.  

I hope Jeffrey can find a job and an employer who will mentor him and give him a chance to grow.  He will know once he starts working whether or not the employer lives up to their promises.  We should have no such question in our work for Jesus.  We simply need to go to work trusting that He will mentor us and give us a chance to grow. 

We Need An Answer

It has only happened three times in my entire life.  The first time I held each one of our children my heart nearly jumped from my chest.  In looking at photos from those days in the hospital I re-live a little bit of that feeling.  While I still love Joey, Sarah and Joshua deeply, there was something about that first time that was truly unique.  Just how much love are we capable of?  This week's Gospel explores the depths of love. 

Jesus said to his disciples:  "As the Father loves me, so I also love you.  Remain in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love.  "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.  This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.  I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing.  I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.  It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.  This I command you: love one another."  John 15:9-17

Jesus, at the Last Supper, is on a mission.  This time with His disciples is special.  It will only happen once.  He knows what's coming but His disciples are unaware.  Jesus wants to make sure that they really understand His message.  Jesus uses His most important, deepest relationship to explain His point.  Jesus speaks of the love that exists between He and His Father, the kind of love that surpasses all others.

Recently I have been putting a lot of time into writing my book.  It has been four and a half years since I started and I just finished the draft of the first section last night.  Here is an excerpt from the book that I believe describes this love that Jesus is talking about:

God lovingly created us desiring that we would freely choose to identify with Him and belong to His family.  It seemed like a “perfect” plan except that free will opens the door to choosing to disobey God.  Why would God allow us to choose if our choices might end in death?  In a word, the answer is love.  I’m not sure I understood the true reason behind God’s decision to do this until I became a father.  Inherent in a child’s willful behavior we see the incredible choice that God the Father made to allow us to choose.  Only a God who embodied unconditional, unlimited love could allow His creation to freely choose to reject Him over and over. This is where we understand why God would risk our disobedience and rejection.  God lets us choose because He wants us to choose Him, out of love.             (From Our Journey With God)

We will love one another when we learn to remain in God's incredible, unconditional, sacrificial love!

A Desire to Remain

I really didn't want to leave.  I've always said I've wanted to live in a place like this so leaving was tough.  This past weekend for Maria's birthday we went to stay with our friends Jan and Andy at their beautiful home at Lake James in North Carolina.  Here is the view from their boat dock.   

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As I have reflected on our time there in light of this Sunday's Gospel, I've gained a fresh understanding of what it means to "remain" in Christ.  

Jesus said to his disciples:  "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.  You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.  Remain in me, as I remain in you.  Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you,  ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.  By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."  John 15:1-8

Jesus is speaking to His disciples after having shared His last supper with them.  He makes it clear that He is the Vine and the disciples, if they remain in Him, are the branches that bear fruit.  This "if" has profound implications.  Those "branches" that do not remain on the Vine will be thrown out and eventually burned.  "If" on the other hand His words remain in them they can ask for whatever they want and they will get it. 

That brings me back to the lake house.  I experienced a sense of peace and deep connection in this breathtaking place.  So much so that I started thinking about what it would be like to live there, to remain there.  The connection I felt prompted a strong desire and it set my mind in motion with thoughts of buying a neighboring piece of land.  The reality is that right now we couldn't afford to buy it even if we wanted to.  But that is not the point of my story. 

I prayed to Jesus that I wanted that same strong desire for Him.  I want to remain in Him.  Will you join me?  Imagine Jesus saying to you, "By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."  

I Know A Guy

Have you heard the saying, "I know a guy"?  Today I made a U-turn and drove twice as far as I needed to buy tires from my favorite service guy.  Brad has been absolutely top-notch in every interaction I've had with him for the four years I've been driving a Mazda.  He takes a very proprietary interest in me and my car.  This week's Gospel provides clarity on an even more elevated level of care. 

Jesus said:  "I am the good shepherd.  A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.  This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.  I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.  This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.  I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father."  John 10:11-18

Jesus, in calling himself the good shepherd, explains very clearly that He is willing to die for His sheep.  He is also clear as to why.  It is because of the love between Jesus and His Father.  This kind of love is otherworldly in that it is unconditional, agape love.  It is not an emotional love.  It is a choice freely made.  In the case of the good shepherd, Jesus is making it clear that His care for HIs sheep is rooted in love, not duty or obligation.

The sacrificial nature of this kind of love emanates from a loving God who loves us beyond our ability to grasp.  We know unconditional love when we see and experience it just like we do when we receive excellent service.  Our good shepherd knows what we need and He provides it exactly when we need it.  We simply have to trust.

THE Answer!

When I read this week's Gospel I realized that I needed to share with you what I'm going through in spite of the fact that it's very personal.  My recent struggles are deeply personal and they are getting in the way of what I know to be true.  I'm in a strange place and I'm not sure what to do or where to go.  It feels like I'm taking one step forward followed by two steps back.  For example, we went to a concert last Friday night.  Chris Tomlin and Matt Maher headlined the Worship Night in America show.  It was wonderful.  I truly felt God's presence and my spirit was lifted in spite of my recent struggles.  However, three days later I'm back in my funk.  Why does this happen?  Is my answer in the Gospel? 

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.  While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you."  But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.  Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled?  And why do questions arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.  Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have."  And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?"  They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled."  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.  And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things."  Luke 24:35-48

Even though they experienced Jesus' presence and their "hearts had been burning within them" the disciples still struggled.  They were troubled and had questions in their hearts.  Jesus proved to the disciples that He was present with them in body.  Not only did Jesus show them HIs scars but He also ate fish to demonstrate His physical presence.  Once He established this Jesus spoke truth.  In a few sentences, He brought clarity to everything that had happened, was happening and if we read further what was to happen. (The coming of the Holy Spirit... "And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father...")

The answer to our struggles, doubts and fears are always found in Jesus.  I'm not being flippant. If we listen to what He said to the disciples in this Gospel passage, Jesus' coming, suffering, death and resurrection applies to all of humanity's ills.  You and I are no different.  As I wrote these words today Jesus helped me to understand the why of my struggles.  More importantly, He showed Himself to me in His Words (read the Gospel above) and in them, I have found the peace that has escaped me for some time.  "I am a witness to these things!"

The Greatest Reminder

It strikes me as odd that I need to be reminded that I have a Reminders app on my phone.  I use it sparingly but when I do it can be extremely helpful in my busy and often distracted life.  Siri hears me and repeats my message to ensure that she got it right and then she promises to remind me.  Then at the appointed time, up pops my reminder.  In this week's Gospel we hear about the most important "reminder" of all time.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews,  Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you."  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you."  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,  "Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples said to 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 into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."  Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."  Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe."  Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"  Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.  John 20:19-31

Many thoughts surely swirled through the minds of the disciples as they hid in fear.  "This isn't what we expected to happen."  "What now?"  Then Jesus appeared.  When He does greet the disciples, Jesus actually repeated Himself.  "Peace be with you."  Jesus states before and after showing the disciples His wounds.  In the midst of their joy in Jesus' resurrection, the disciples are reminded of His death.  The nail marks and the wound in Jesus' side remain on His resurrected body.  They remind the disciples of the reason Jesus came in the first place.

Because we look back on Jesus' life, death and resurrection we have the advantage of seeing the big picture.  We see God's story of creation, the fall in the garden along with the struggles of the Israelites to remain true to God prior to Jesus' coming.  Most importantly, we see salvation through His cross.  In all of this, we see God's purposes.  Therein lies the Greatest Reminder...

"...that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name."