April 30, 2000
The disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders, and on the evening of that same Sunday they locked themselves in a room. Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the middle of the group. He greeted them and showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they became very happy.
After Jesus had greeted them again, he said, "I am sending you just as the Father has sent me." Then he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don't forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven."
Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn't with the others when Jesus appeared to them. So they told him, "We have seen the Lord!"
But Thomas said, "First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won't believe unless I do this!"
A week later the disciples were together again. This time, Thomas was with them. Jesus came in while the doors were still locked and stood in the middle of the group. He greeted his disciples and said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!"
Thomas replied, "You are my Lord and my God!"
Jesus said, "Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!"
Jesus worked many other miracles for his disciples, and not all of the are written in this book. But these were written so that you will put your faith in the Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in him, you will have true life. [CEV]
1. To shift gears from Lenten questions to Easter questions it is necessary to look at this issue of faith. Folks could look upon specific teachings and healings and be as convinced about Jesus as they were about anything else in life. They could see actions and respond with conviction or questions.
2. Thomas is a bridge between the Lenten and Easter questions. In Lent we were looking at tangible specifics. Here in Easter we are looking beyond the tangible. Even though Thomas claimed he needed to touch, he was satisfied with seeing Jesus in the midst of the community.
3. It is easy to stay in Lenten mode -- dealing with specifics we can rationalize or jump to conclusions about and make permanent rules about. It is more difficult to look at the extended conversations John reports in gospel form and to say they are sufficient for us to come to a life-decision regarding the intention of GOD as portrayed by Jesus. An Easter question is, "What is holding you back from living what you know to be the larger intention of GOD?" Is it something you need to know or touch or experience? You already have everything you need. May Jesus enter your room and may you recognize your previous criteria and hesitations need no longer hold you back. Go forth to live in joy.
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