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COLUMN: Thomas’s experience a week after Easter has a lesson for us all

Rev. Ron Colangelo
Posted 4/23/22

So here we are. One week after Easter. How was this week for you? How are you today, almost one week after Easter? Is the excitement of Easter still in you? Has it begun to fade? Has it vanished all …

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COLUMN: Thomas’s experience a week after Easter has a lesson for us all

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So here we are. One week after Easter. How was this week for you? How are you today, almost one week after Easter? Is the excitement of Easter still in you? Has it begun to fade? Has it vanished all together?

I ask these questions because in our text today, we find the disciples exactly one week after Easter. Before dealing fully with how we feel, lets begin to understand how these disciples of Christ are doing… one week after Easter.

Our text of John gives us a quick glimpse back to Easter and the splendid revelation of God’s glory in Christ’s resurrection. The disciples are huddled in fear behind a locked door when Jesus appears to them, and when he does — he not only reveals his resurrection, he breathes an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them.

Now, for some reason… Thomas was absent from the disciples. He didn’t get to see Jesus that night.

Now the other disciples are sharing the wonderful news with him… “We have seen the Lord!” But what proof do they bring? Only their words.

John earlier in his gospel has already described Thomas as a courageous pessimist, and as an honest skeptic, so it is not surprising that his response is “not gonna believe it till I see it.”

One week after Easter, the very same room where Jesus appeared before… Eleven disciples sit in excitement — and Thomas… probably sitting with his arms crossed, ankles crossed, and brow furrowed. This is the stage set. Eleven disciples who “know” and wait anxiously; one disciple who doubts, who only has the words of the other disciples to go by. He doubts. If every one of us was honest with ourselves, we would see that Thomas is not the loneliest Christian ever. I would venture a guess, that every one of us at some point has walked side by side with Thomas in the state of doubt. It is our very nature to doubt what we cannot see. It might as well be us sitting there with the eleven… arms crossed, ankles crossed, and brow furrowed.

Believing without seeing. Thomas doubted… yes. And yet, which of us can claim to throw the first stone at him. Which of us has never had the smallest bit of doubt. Perhaps we have looked to the trouble of the world, the pain, the injustice, the senseless violence, and have thought, “How can a good God let bad things happen?”

Perhaps we have been challenged by competing beliefs of many different religions.

Or perhaps we are just like Thomas, and struggle to believe the words of others, wishing we could have firsthand knowledge for ourselves.

Luckily for Thomas and for us, that is not the end of the text.

Thomas is not left sitting there doubting. Jesus appears in the room with all 12 disciples, and he directly addresses Thomas. Jesus knew he doubted. Jesus knew he had been excluded from the special revelation the night he appeared to the other eleven. Jesus even knew what that whole last week must have been like for Thomas. Just ponder that for a moment... the only disciple left out. The only disciple with nothing but words to go by. The one disciple most like us today. And Thomas, the one left out, spent that entire week wrestling alone with his doubts.

Now, Jesus does not lecture him, chastise him, or discipline him for doubting, instead Jesus wished him peace, and in his mercy, gave Thomas that which he needed to move beyond his doubt. It is at this moment that something new happens. All throughout the book of John, Jesus is Lord… to his disciples, to Mary Magdalene, to all his followers… and now and only now, Thomas proclaims, “My Lord and my God.” He gets it. Not only does he get it, but he gets in a deeper and much more profound way. Jesus who was once just Lord has now become Lord and God.

Like Thomas, there are times we will be challenged. We will doubt. The very best news of all is that God doesn’t let us sit forever… arms crossed, ankles crossed, and brow furrowed. In our time of doubt we will search, examine, question, and we too can gain a stronger and deeper understanding of faith, of God, and of our relationship with him.

One week after Easter. One short week. In that crowded little room, door locked, sitting with the other 11… Where do you sit? Do you sit with Thomas, as one seeking? Do you sit with the 11, still excited and buzzing? Perhaps you sit on your own, neither excited nor doubting.

Wherever you sit today, I encourage you to look to Thomas not as a bad example to be avoided, but rather as our representative in that room, as ones who have other people’s word and not firsthand experience. And Jesus stands before us inviting us to see the wounds and touch his side, so that we may know the truth, and stand again with Thomas to say “My Lord and my God.”

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