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Day 29—Monday, March 18

John 20:24-28

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Another Look at Thomas

Let’s try to imagine it, if we can. Only a few days have passed since their beloved teacher and friend, Jesus, had been captured by the Roman authorities, tried on false charges, and sentenced to death, carried out by the tortuous method of crucifixion. Death by crucifixion was reserved for those considered particularly disgraced or politically abhorrent, the ultimate shaming, their naked dead bodies left hanging, exposed, as horrifying reminders of what could happen to anyone who crossed the authorities. During some periods in the first century, Roman roads were lined with crosses holding bodies of the crucified. I want us to sit for a minute with this reality, the reality of Jesus followers. Shattered, overwhelmed with grief, fearful for their own safety, they met together in hiding, numb and traumatized, drawn together, not knowing where else to turn. One of the women in their group had reported seeing Jesus alive near the tomb where his body had been laid, but this was hard to believe. Here’s where our scripture passage begins.

Imagine now that you are Thomas, one of those who had been with Jesus almost daily for the last few years. Following his horrific death, you are so sunk into grief that it’s all you can do to keep breathing. (Maybe you, the reader, can recall such a time.) After a few days you have enough strength to look for other members of your small group, hopeless yet drawn by the need to be with them again, and you find them together in a place they’ve met before. Incredibly, they tell you that they too have actually seen Jesus alive! Not only that, but although the doors were locked, he appeared in that very room and spoke with them! (I remember seeing a dear friend passing by in her car or glimpsed across a store for weeks after she died. These things happen.) So, you, the distraught follower, do not believe what the others tell you. Yes, they are telling what they believe is the truth, but it cannot be. You know from experience that false hope is eventually devastating. Only if you see and hear and touch him for yourself will you believe that Jesus is somehow alive again after being beaten, a spear thrust into his side. All that blood!

You witnessed his horrific death.

A week goes by.

Another gathering in a locked room, but this time you are there with the others. Suddenly Jesus himself appears. You hear him speak the words, “Peace be with you.” Your hands touch his, the still open wounds. Yes it is true - he lives!

Do you remember reading about Jesus’ baptism by John, in the river Jordan? Mark’s gospel tells us that when Jesus came up out of the water, immediately the heavens were split open, torn apart, rent asunder! Suddenly everything that had been or was or would ever be was changed forever! I believe that this is what happened in Thomas heart when he realized that he was in the presence of the living Christ! In response, he fell on his knees with the words, “My Lord and my God.”

So, what about us? What about me? Can we allow Thomas’s experience of the risen Christ into our own reality? Do we hesitate, holding these stories at arms length, knowing without knowing that if we open ourselves to this transforming experience, nothing will ever be the same?

-Elise Hansard



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