The Two Sides of Jesus

Sunday April 24, 2022 The Second Sunday of Easter (Cycle C)

The tie in between today’s readings: Fear and Love

Psalm 118:2-4;13-15;22-24Acts 5:12-16Revelation 1:9-11a;12-13;17-19John 20:19-31

Today’s readings show two different sides of Jesus. It demonstrates the healthy tension that we need in approaching our God. He loves us and we love Him. This close relationship makes it easy to slip too far into the familiar when we approach our Lord. We must be careful that we don’t remake Him in our image. He is God not our Bud. But how can we even relate to a Being that is so totally other? He doesn’t think like us. We don’t act like Him. He is everywhere and knows all. You have to ask, “Who is this Person that we are commanded to fear and yet, draw closer to in love at the same time?” I think that C.S. Lewis had it right in the Chronicle of Narnia, where Aslan represents Jesus.

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr. Beaver …”who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

In John 20:19-31, the disciples are hunkered down, afraid for their collective lives, and confused about all the fantastic happenings of this first Resurrection Sunday. Then, through the door-yes, through the door-comes Easter Jesus, the comfortably mysterious Messiah they’ve all come to know and love. For their fear, Jesus gives them His peace. For doubt, He offers them proof. He commissions them to go out into the world with the gospel’s sin remedy message and gives them the Holy Spirit’s power. His patience shines through when He comes back eight days later to prove Himself to Thomas, who apparently was picking up the pizzas the time before and missed out. The comforting and exciting message in all this is that despite the disciples’ frailties (and ours) God’s power in them is sufficient to turn the world upside down.  

In Acts 5:12-16, these same men are out preaching the gospel and establishing their street creds. Peter had just finished his apostolic prerogative of retaining and loosing sins with the drop-dead judgment of Ananias and Sapphira. As a result, the Bible records, “So great fear fell upon the church and all who heard it” (Acts 5:11). Do you think? The Apostles healed so many people so dramatically that just having Peter’s shadow fall on them was enough! Unclean spirits were exorcised. Their reputation was spreading throughout the area and multitudes were being saved. Churches were being established and there was a whole lotta love! Aaah yes, the good old days!

The Apostle John was a young man then. Now he is old and exiled on the Island of Patmos by the decree of Rome for of all things: atheism. It has been a long hard road of perseverance and tribulation since the Acts Chapter Five days. He had poured out his life testifying and preaching God’s word around the Mediterranean region. Tired and ready to meet his Maker, he is surprised when Jesus pays him a visit. But it’s not Last Supper Jesus, the guy who let him lay on His bosom (John 13:23). It’s Glorified God Jesus…Scary Jesus! It’s the Lord, the operations manager of His churches (Revelations Chapters 2 & 3). He is the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man, in other words: God Almighty. He wears the white priestly robe of righteousness. His all-seeing eyes scrutinize everything. Nothing escapes His gaze. His powerful voice speaks with the sword sharp words of God, cutting though soul and spirit as well as thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). His face radiates with the glory that cannot be contained. Scared out of his mind, the apostle couldn’t hit the deck fast enough; he falls at His feet like a dead man. What does Jesus say?  “Don’t be afraid. I Am the first and the last, the One who has the keys to death and Hades, I’m the One who died and Am alive forevermore…and because I live you will live also.” Beloved, John, I have a job for you.”

As believers, we need to keep the balance between God our Father and God our Master on the level. The Lord is both kind and severe (Romans 11:22, Psalm 118). Yes, He loves us. At the Last Supper, Jesus became the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He died for us on Good Friday and rose again on Easter Sunday, so that we may become children of God in Him by faith. That’s not the end of it. God expects you to grow up and reflect who He is in this world. He wants you to be like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. This takes: discipline, prayer, perseverance, faith, and yes, suffering. Take up your cross. Let God your Master produce a return on His investment in you, for the praise and glory of His name.

If you have not taken the love and forgiveness offered to you by Last Supper and Easter Jesus seriously, then now is the time. Get real with your Lord. Believe! Confess! Be forgiven! Otherwise, your sins will keep you marked as an enemy of God. That only leaves you with Scary Jesus. Don’t go there!

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