Mary could just not convince them. She had returned and told term “I have seen the Lord”, plus everything that the risen Jesus had said to her, but they simply could not believe it – not even Peter and John who saw the empty tomb.
They were in lockdown mode. We know what that is. Millions around the world are still in it. Isolated, cut off, very small world – hardly living …
They were not scared of catching or passing on a life taking virus, they were scared of their life being taken! Why wouldn’t they be, after all they had seen done at the hands of the Roman military.
But three words of peace from the risen Jesus are coming and with them a third life.
In the Bible, there are two kinds of life that are ‘normal’ for humans, or for any living creature. There is ‘psyche’ and ‘bios’. Our biology and our psychology. It is what we saw the other day in the form of our first grand-daughter. A little package of God’s human life given to his living world. This is the life possessed from birth to death by all living creatures including humans, whether they be good or bad, righteous or wicked, founders of charities or perpetrators of genocide.
But then there is another kind of life. Not everyone has this kind of life. It is ‘zoe’: eternal life (literally “life of the age”). This is life that comes by belief, faith, trust, relationship; life given to those who are born of God; made new; re-created by this resurrection from death. Life that for John transforms us from merely existing to living in the abundance and eternal sphere of God: Father, Son and Spirit.
John tells us this life was present from the beginning in Jesus. This third life lies at the core of creation
“… in him (Jesus) was life (zoe), and the life (zoe) was the light of all people” (John 1:4).
This life is God’s goal for humans. It is John’s goal in his gospel telling of it all. It is Jesus’ goal for all people, including you.
“these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah … and that believing you may have life (zoe) in his name.” (John 20:31)
This zoe life does not replace psyche and bios life. We are still the same creatures we were before. It does, however, bring us into the fullness of God’s undeserved acceptance and love; so that we are, also, not the same creatures we were before. We are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The disciples don’t have it yet. But they will soon. Do you have it? How do you know for sure?
Now that death had been killed by resurrection, these humans receive this third life for real for ever. It is breathed into them by the resurrected human. It does not come from their psychology or their biology or chemistry. It comes from his breath, his Spirit. It is his gift to them.
It takes three “peace’s” spoken into them by Resurrected Jesus.
Like a person stepping out of the written off motor vehicle after an accident to be so euphoric that they have not got a scratch on them – this group is euphoric. Jesus has escaped death!
This is the peace that comes our way when out worst fears are not realised. The thing we dread looks like it will happen but does not. What a profound moment. The suffering, the insulting, the bleeding the painful dying has not snuffed out psyche, bios or zoe in Jesus!
Then another ‘Peace’. Is this the one after the initial rush. ‘Yes, really: Peace’. Peace not just for now but forever. A ‘not so fast’ peace. Peace that will bring them back to the ground but with a new step, a new light, a new way.
Then from this peace comes the mission. As Jesus has been sent to gather the world, so they now will go to gather the world in his peace.
A sobering call as they see the scars on his body. This new life coming will be beautiful and new and meaningful but will cost them some injury sometimes – but never enough to kill their zoe – their life in Jesus.
And this third peace might be the most important for us. It comes in that famous moment with Thomas. He was not there for the first two ‘peace’s’. He will not believe until he sees, touches and feels with his own psyche and bios the psyche and bios of Jesus.
I marvel at Jesus’ grace when we find no put-down or harsh words of judgement by Jesus to Thomas’ lack of belief and demand to see, touch and feel.
Thomas is welcomed into the peace and unity before he can apologize or defend himself. Same for you today.
The greatest single declaration of faith in any of the gospel’s is uttered by Thomas.
“My Lord and my God”.
Zoe life is now his. Thomas believes. He has that special peace. He is new. He has a life to live he could not live and did not have to live before. Now he can and will.
For John and for anyone who hears him, life is now full and complete. He said this would be, right from the beginning;
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind. (John 1:1-4)
This one is for us who could not be in that room. This God-life is now receivable not by being an eyewitness to the cross, the dark dawn and empty tomb, the lock-down room, the finger in the wounds and the euphoric peace received that day.
The written and spoken accounts are now carriers of this third life and these three ‘peace’s’.
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)
Friend, Jesus is in this room with this peace and this third dimension of life. Receive God’s zoe, his lasting and full life of new creation, new hope, new promise, new goals, new direction for you whole life by his peace and life today.
No need to doubt.
“The Word of God is near you and is on your lips’.
The Spirit of this risen Messiah is again moving across the seas of darkness we feel and know and re-creating us dead, bones back to life (Genesis 1, Ezekiel 37).
You are legitimate. In that font of the Spirit;
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (zoe). (Romans 6:4)
Or in John’s talk, as Nicodemus, the man searching for this third life one night got the news.
I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. … 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’ (John 3:5-8)
Let his Spirit blow you away! Hear three peace’s. Despite COVID, breath in this third life. It is yours. It always has been since the day you were baptised.
You have ‘zoe’; God-life in Jesus’s name.
Live it with confidence and joy. Share the peace, speak of his words, watch him give his life.