Todays readings.. 2 Chronicles 20, Daniel 2, John 20&21
“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO …”
We have a remarkable set of readings today, probably the most remarkable and thought challenging in the whole year! First in 2nd Chronicles 20 we have Jehoshaphat’s impassioned prayer which is dramatically answered. Then in Daniel ch. 2 we read of the remarkable dream given to Nebuchadnezzar which Daniel reveals to him – and then gives the king the interpretation: this reaches its’ climax with the words, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever…” [v.44]
Our readings then climax with the last 2 chapters of John’ gospel which detail the appearances and teaching of Jesus after his resurrection. The disciple Thomas was not there at first and he would not believe Jesus was alive again. He had surely witnessed his awesome death – being among “all his acquaintances … who had followed him” and who “… stood at a distance watching these things.” [Luke 23 v.49]
Thomas declared, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” [John 20 v.25] Then later, Jesus appears to them all! This includes Thomas, who then declares his belief. “Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” [v.29] May we be so “blessed.”
John ends this chapter by writing, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
This means – “you may have” eternal life – to be wonderfully given when Jesus returns – and how soon now!? We are awed to think his return is now very near – and, to quote the climax of Daniel’s interpretation of the king’s dream; to be there at the time when “…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed … it shall stand forever.” [ch. 2 v.44] “Blessed are those who ….”