Sunday, April 16, 2017
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Happy Easter! He is Risen! Go, but don’t stay!
Really, what are we to make of the resurrection of Jesus? It’s a central claim of our faith, that Jesus rose from the dead. But that doesn’t necessarily make it easier for us to grasp it. In fact, I’m pretty sure all of us, myself included, have gone through some period(s) of life where we love Jesus, practice the faith, but doubt Jesus’ resurrection.
What I love about this passage in John 20 is that it gives permission to Jesus followers to go there and doubt. Linger over the details:
In her eagerness, Mary Magdelene goes first, before first light. She sees the stone rolled away, that is all; and she runs to tell the other disciples that someone has taken the Lord out. (I love how this sentence is both true and reveals her confusion at the same time.)
The disciple whom Jesus loves comes next. He examines the evidence, looks at the clues, and tentatively enters the grave only after Simon Peter... and he believes.
But not Simon Peter. He doesn’t believe yet. Though he is the most brash, the most brazen and walks right through the entrance, he walks away perplexed. Later, like Peter, all the disciples are huddled together. Door locked. Uncertain. Afraid.
These responses, and variations of them, have been my own reality at times. Just what am I to make of this news? How am I to think about it? How should I respond? It allows me to wonder and doubt.
The other thing I love about this passage is that also gives permission to not have to stay there. It’s OK to move through our confusion or unbelief or fear – to get to the other side. The nameless disciple believes. Mary Magdelene clings to Jesus and becomes the first evangelist after the resurrection. The disciples are overjoyed.
Sometimes it is hard for the skeptic – and we are all tutored in skepticism – to move from doubt to faith. From grim determination to joy. From fear to purpose. But it’s all there in this passage, inviting us to cross over into resurrection life, life with Jesus. What will you do?
• What are versions of doubt or perplexity you have had (or have right now) about the resurrection?
• Consider the time when have you been most live to the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. Praise God for that time in your life and prayer for a renewed time of joyful trust.