Bible Cliff’s Notes (My dog ate my Bible!)
Jesus appears to his disciples and breathes the Holy Spirit into them. He endows them with powers of healing and forgiveness of sin. Thomas wasn’t there and doesn’t believe unless he sees Jesus for himself. Jesus reappears to the disciples and lets Thomas feels his wounds, and says, “Happy are those who haven’t seen and still believe.”
Disciples are brought before the high priest an accused of teaching the Gospel. They stand firm, emboldened by the Holy Spirit.
A psalm of effusive praise, urging us to praise God with all we have.
John sends a letter of greeting to the early Christian churches in Asia. He proclaims the lordship and eternal reign of God through Jesus, (the “firstborn from among the dead.”)
WTF? (Breaking down scripture in plain language)
Holy Spirit – For those who believe in a Trinitarian expression of God (God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit), this is the most mystical dimension of God. The Holy Spirit is often compared to the wind, and often appears in scripture when people are being filled with God’s inspiration. So for me, I understand the Holy Spirit as “God-given inspiration.”
Jerusalem – One of the oldest cities in existence, which lies between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean. It’s been destroyed twice and attacked dozens of times. Scripture says that David established Jerusalem as the sort of capital of the Jewish people, most likely because it was part of not one of the seven tribal lands occupied by the Jewish tribes. Today, it’s at the center of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Glory – This is a churchy word used all the time, but not often understood. Glory in a religious context is synonymous with praise or great honor.
John (Revelation) – There are lots of Johns in the Bible (no, not that kind of John, gah!), but they’re not all the same guy. For example, the John to whom the fourth Gospel is attributed may or may not be the same John as the one who wrote I-III John later in the New Testament. Depends on which Biblical expert you ask. And the John writing Revelation isn’t either one of these Johns either. This guy is John of Patmos – named as such because he was believed to have written Revelation (note there is no “S” at the end) while imprisoned on the island of Patmos where he was in exile, most likely for publicly practicing Christianity.
Navel-Gazing (First Thoughts)
- We’ve all heard the phrase “Doubting Thomas.” Well, this scripture in John is where it comes from. Thomas often gets a bad rap for questioning his fellow disciples’ claims that they’ve seen Jesus, but they actually got to see him! Remember back when Mary and the other women told the disciples they had seen Jesus at the tomb? They didn’t exactly believe either. So don’t feel too bad if you struggle with this whole “resurrection” thing too. You’re in good company.
- If you’re like me and you aren’t a big fan of contemporary Christian praise music, this Psalm just comes off as kind of annoying. Praise this and praise that! Yeah, we get it. But I’m still scratching my head about what exactly God and Jesus are all about, never mind the Holy Spirit. I used to think that you would understand the whole “praising God” thing once you really, truly believed it all. But now I’m getting more comfortable with the idea that I can offer gratitude, awe and even a bit of humble praise, while still swimming in the deep, troubling waters of doubt and mystery. Something happened, it seems. And that something changed the world, pretty clearly for the better. That’s a pretty good place to start.
CLICK THROUGH to Heretic’s Guide to the Bible for tons of extra content on this study, including the following in-depth sections:
Digging Deeper (Mining for what really matters…and gold)
Heads Up (Connecting the text to our world)
Prayer for the Week (Or share your own below in the comments!)
Popping Off (Resources in pop culture related to the readings)