Lent Devotion for April 1
"They Pierced His Hands and His Feet"
Reader: "They have pierced hands and feet."
Response: "Put your hand in the wound in my side."
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 22:16
16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet.
SCRIPTURE: John 19:34-37; 20:26-29
34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35 (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also may continue to believe.)36 These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and “They will look on the one they pierced.”
26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
Reader: “The word of the Lord."
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
You may have heard or read where some have argued that the Scriptures were stories passed along through the years and gradually Christianity took shape. Oral tradition they call it. In the above passage, the apostle John was standing there at the crucifixion, saw Jesus hanging on the cross, and observed what happened with the soldiers. He was an eye-witness to the actual event in time and he wrote down what he saw. A thousand years previous, King David described an event in his own life that was a shadow of Jesus’ crucifixion. It was Sunday, the day of the resurrection when Jesus first miraculously appeared to His disciples in the upper room as they hid. Exactly eight days later, the next Sunday, Jesus appeared again but this time Thomas was with them. (The followers of Christ regularly met on the first day of the week for worship, remembering, and celebrating Jesus’ victory over death. At the very beginning, they also continued to observe the Jewish Sabbath.) Can you imagine being Thomas in that situation? You might be a little embarrassed at your lack of faith and then Jesus turned and spoke directly to you, knowing what you had said earlier. It would be overwhelming, to say the least! Thomas’ response was immediate, “My Lord and my God.” Let’s stay with Thomas a moment. You have just put your hand on the side of God, the Creator of the universe. He’s standing before you clothed in flesh and blood with fresh wounds speaking personally to you. You have physically touched God! Thomas heard but did not believe. When he saw, he believed. We are the opposite. We have not seen, yet believe. Jesus went on to say we are blessed because we believe without seeing. Sadly, there were those in Jesus’ day who saw, yet did not believe, and today there are those who do not see and do not believe. I want to make one additional observation, when Jesus appeared His first words were, “Peace be with you.” Many, many times throughout both Old and New Testaments, when there was a being with a heavenly appearance, the first words were, “Peace be with you…” There was often great fear at the appearance of these beings. The Israelites were well aware that to see God was immediate death. Yet here in the further revelation of God, not only does Thomas see Him, but touches Him and lives. Our God has come to us in the most personable way possible, both then and now.
MUSIC: "In the Garden” by Alan Jackson
Gracious Lord Jesus, we live in a world that has been captured by things we can see. We must see physical evidence to know that things work. We look at screens. We interact with people, with words, with ideas that are fleshed out. But, believing in a world that is real, that we have never seen but have only read and heard about, is for many people too difficult. Yet, Lord, you have given every evidence that there is a world beyond the one we live in, a very real world, an eternal world, a beautiful world beyond descriptive words in any language. Dearest Jesus, when you were talking with Thomas a week after your resurrection, you told him that people that believed in Him, even though they had not seen Him, would be blessed. We are those people and we thank you and look forward to thanking you again in person. Amen.