It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”
Thomas, the one called Didymus, one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.”
After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!”
Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.”
Then Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name.
Take a minute to reflect about the parties you've attended in your life. What about the parties you've organized and hosted? There are birthday parties, holiday parties, graduation parties, retirement parties, wedding showers, wedding receptions, baby showers...the list is endless. What is common is the time we spend preparing for these celebrations is usually much greater than the party itself.
Our Easter celebration did not begin and conclude last Sunday. We are blessed to continue the celebration for 50 days in celebration of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances to his followers. On Sunday, we will discuss Thomas and his response to the presence of the risen Christ.
Thomas was not with the disciples when Jesus first appeared to them. When they told Thomas they had seen Jesus, he pretty much tells them they're crazy and that he won't believe their story unless he is able to see and touch this man whom he knew had died.
Thomas often gets a bum rap about this response. We ridicule him for doubting the story he's been told.
But this really is an unbelievable tale, is it not?
I think most of us would have responded in the same way.
Eight days later, Thomas comes face to face with the risen Christ. He no longer needs to touch the wounds created by the nails for his faith had been touched merely by Jesus' presence and he responds, "My Lord and my God!"
Can you imagine the celebration that followed?
Can you imagine how this changed Thomas?
Brennan Manning, author of the Ragamuffin Gospel, tells us, “For me the most radical demand of the Christian faith lies in summoning the courage to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ.”
On Sunday we will continue the celebration of Easter and the present risenness of Jesus Christ.
How will you and I respond to the risen Christ? I wonder how we might be changed in our response?