Series: Easter: This Changes Everything
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Sam Millen
Live Wonder: Bec Reid
Live Adventure: Jess Lee
Live Beyond: Art Preuss
Live Purpose: Don Pate
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: John 20:19-29 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: N. T. Wright helped me understand heaven, not in terms of location (somewhere in our universe millions of miles away), but as another dimension. In one sense, heaven is all around us—not far at all. C.S. Lewis creatively conveys this concept in his fictional book series The Chronicles of Narnia. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the four Pevensie children enter the world of Narnia through a wardrobe in the old professor’s house. From one point of view, there is nothing unusual about this wardrobe. But for some reason, two worlds meet in it. I believe when sin is eradicated we’ll fully experience the heavenly dimension. We only see glimpses now. Paul said, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
On p.122 of The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Tim Keller tells us, “When a Russian cosmonaut returned from space and reported that he had not found God, C. S. Lewis responded that this was like Hamlet going into the attic of his castle and looking for Shakespeare.” As a teenager, my father attended a rally in Eastern Europe and saw Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. The cosmonaut died in a plane crash shortly thereafter. The above statement (about not seeing God) was likely falsely attributed to him, but regardless—God is not located somewhere in space. We don’t get to God by travelling from Point A to B, not matter how far we go.
“If Shakespeare and Hamlet could ever meet, it must be Shakespeare’s doing. Hamlet could initiate nothing,” wrote C.S. Lewis in Surprised by Joy (p. 227). Lewis then elaborated in a footnote as follows: “Shakespeare could, in principle, make himself appear as Author within the play, and write a dialogue between Hamlet and himself. The ‘Shakespeare’ within the play would of course be at once Shakespeare and one of Shakespeare’s creatures. It would bear some analogy to Incarnation.”
Jesus wrote Himself into our story. He is both God and man. Once resurrected, He no longer confined Himself to space and appeared to the disciples inside their locked room. This is good news for us! The disciples had continually been in the presence of Jesus for three and a half years. But the rest of the world missed this awesome opportunity. Even Zacchaeus had to become creative to get near Him. And what about the billions not alive yet (including us)? The resurrected Jesus is not millions of miles away. He is with us here and now.
Recalibrate: What does Christ’s ability to go through walls tell you about His resurrected body?
Respond: Ask God to help you sense His presence today.
Research: Watch this short video clip featuring N.T. Wright on rethinking heaven.
Remember: “Then Jesus told him, ‘You believe because you see me. Those who believe without seeing me will be truly happy’” (John 20:29, ICB).
Sam Millen is the pastor at Anacortes Adventist Fellowship in Washington State. He his wife Angie is a schoolteacher on Orcas Island and their three children are really awesome!
Today go for a walk around the streets where you live and encourage your little one to find a safe place in your neighborhood, or at the park, where you can stop and stand while closing your eyes together. Hold hands and ask them to turn and face the sun while keeping their eyes closed. Ask them if they feel the sun on their face. Ask them they if the sun feels warm or cold on their face and body. Explain to them how we can believe in things even if we don’t see them. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” is part of the scripture this week and it means people who have not seen Jesus and still believe in Him. Ask your little one if they could believe that there was a sun if they had never seen it.
Have you heard of WWJD? What would Jesus do? As you read and answer each of these questions think about WWJD. You get to the cookie jar first after school and there is only one cookie left. Do you eat it or give it to your sister? You see the older lady from next door walking home with her bag of groceries. Do you stop to help her or do you keep playing with your friends? Making the right decision can sometimes be hard to do. As you go throughout your week, keep in your mind WWJD and try to show Jesus to others through your actions.
The text for this week begins by describing a man who came from Arimathea, described as a “city of the Jews.” It also mentions that this man, Simon, was “waiting for the kingdom of God” (Luke 23:50-53). The Bible doesn’t reveal a whole lot about him, but it does speak about his character. It says that he was a “righteous and good man” (Luke 23:50). While Matthew, Mark, and John introduce Simon as someone of influence and wealth, Luke carefully points out that his “righteousness and goodness” is what stands out about him.
Let’s get real: If somebody were to write something about you, what would they say? Do you think it would be different from how you would like to be seen or would their description reflect the way you’d like to be remembered?
We know of at least seven specific events where Jesus showed up after the tomb. Between the lines of Acts 1 and I Corinthians 15 it seems that there may have been more but we just aren’t given the details. Still, we do know that Jesus wasn’t with His friends constantly for six weeks leading into Mark 16/Luke 24/Acts 1 when He went back to Heaven. It feels like Jesus was trying to wean the disciples from His constant presence, showing them that they would be OK without Him because of the Holy Spirit. Still, I wonder if He ever got that far away from them? Did He kind of linger off behind a tree as they stood by the side of their boats? Did He hide outside the window as they gathered in a room at the end of the day? I’d like to think so. This week we are going to consider two of those “appearances” from John 20. One was the very night of the resurrection and one happened a week later. In those moments He showed up—and we have to consider why.
Bec Reid is a real estate agent within her family business. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and is a part of the Wahroonga Adventist Church community.
Jess Lee is an education consultant for the New South Wales Adventist education system. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and attends Kellyville Church.
Art Preuss pastors in Massachusetts at the Springfield, Florence, and Warren Adventist churches and serves in the U. S. Air Force Reserve as a chaplain.
Don Pate is “retired” in Tennessee after decades of teaching and pastoring but is still active in speaking and creating for the Kingdom.