Last week we considered how Mary hearing Jesus call her name changed her from grief stricken into an amazed and delighted emissary who proclaims the first Gospel to the disciples. Sometimes it takes a change of heart to recognize Jesus. Sometimes, it is the focus that needs to be adjusted.
We probably have all heard the story of Thomas, one of the disciples, saddled forever with the title of ‘Doubting’. It happens that Thomas isn’t present when Jesus makes his first Risen appearance to the disciples. His response to the disciples’ announcement of seeing the Risen Lord is somewhat scornful. “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.” (John 20:25) His retort is honest and filled with frustration at missing the opportunity to see the Master. You can hear his hurt. Jesus didn’t wait for him to return before showing up and he was left out.
In truth, he was perhaps more brave and honest than the rest of the group. He was not cringing with them “with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders”. (John 20:19) Despite Mary’s announcement, the disciples still lacked the faith and courage to even go out of their rooms. Thomas, however, was out on the street, perhaps risking his life while getting food or on some other errand for the disciples.
Jesus doesn’t forget Thomas. “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!” (John 20:26-28)
Thomas didn’t really need to physically touch Jesus. He did need to know that he was just as valued as the other disciples. Jesus responds to his unspoken pain and confusion by offering to let him touch the wounds. Jesus then encourages Thomas, and those of us throughout the ages, when he says, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
With Thomas and all the other saints, named and unnamed through the ages, we can claim the Resurrection Power that Chris Tomlin sings about. We are “Living in the light of Your goodness [for] You have given us freedom.”
More than that, “I'm dressed in Your royalty/Your Holy Spirit lives in me/And I see my past has been redeemed/The new has come.”
Is there some part of you that needs to know that Resurrection Power? Are you begging Jesus to let you see his hands and his side, so you can believe? Know that Jesus WILL give you that glimpse if you are open to it.
Next time, we’ll walk the Road to Emmaus where Jesus helps a pair of travelers change their outlook on events.