Posted on Fri, Apr 8, 2016
April 3, 2016
Second Sunday of
Gospel Text: John 20:19-31, “Honest Thomas”
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
Jesus and Thomas
24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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.’
26 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.’ 27 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.’ 28 Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
The Purpose of This Book
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
I would say that because of what I have learned by teaching and studying Mindfulness along with my own struggles with depression, I learned something this week about sadness. Sadness, born out of the struggle with depression, is heavy, dark, cold and has the power to lead people to self-destruction. Sadness, born out of the loss of a loved one, if nurtured and pondered, and not ignored, avoided or covered up, can lead one to an immensely deep feeling of gratitude. The reason we feel so much pain after the loss of a loved one, is because we were blessed with the love of that person, and now, we can’t do the things we love to do with a loved one… we can no longer hug, speak, eat with, or enjoy time together without getting a loving response. We’ve lost that loving response back to us, that we so long for, and treasured (and maybe took for granted) all those years. That loss, whether abrupt or even drawn out over many years, will always hurt and bring tears… but if we just allow ourselves to feel the sadness and know that the sadness we feel is because we were blessed with a relationship with our loved one… gratitude and a sense of thankfulness for each and every experience we shared, becomes a source of being able to say, thank-you, to the person, God or family, for the time we had…
When the disciples witnessed, some of the disciples witnessed, Jesus die on the cross and put into the tomb, they all hid because ‘they thought they were next.’ Not just Thomas, but all of the disciples hid away because they were afraid… If you would’ve asked any one of the disciples “why were they hiding?” You would not have heard any great words of faith. Ask them if they believed the prophecies about Jesus’ resurrection after the cross, and I think you would have seen them squirm with guilt. Did they believe that Jesus was going to rise from the dead? Their actions speak clearly; they were all afraid and full of doubt. Faith casts out all fear… the room was full of fear, and there wasn't a hint of faith by any of the chosen twelve… down to eleven now.
Thomas takes the heat for being a ‘doubter’ but he is only saying what all the other disciples would have said before Jesus entered their ‘hiding place’ and said, “Peace be with You.” The disciples were afraid and Jesus could sense their need to be comforted. Jesus knew that the disciples needed Jesus to be with them in a very real way the disciples could relate to in order to heal them from their fear.
Yes, I said, “The disciples needed to be HEALED from their fear!”
Jesus sensed their fear, and came to them, to heal them with His presence. It is only after the disciples had their encounter with the resurrected Jesus that they could boldly proclaim to a still fearful Thomas that Jesus was indeed alive, just as the women had told them… but remember, even when the women told them that the tomb was empty, none of the men believed accept for John (presumably).
Thomas was just honest, and probably like anyone in this room. I don’t care how great the car you want to sell me looks like in the brochure, unless I sit in the drivers seat, smell the new car smell, and hear that engine start, I won’t buy it…
John is brilliant in telling us exactly what Thomas requires before he believes, ‘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.’ He knew that Jesus was pierced by nails and a spear, if the Jesus who endure this suffering, pain and death had indeed risen, there would be scars… He HAD to see the scars to believe.
Thomas needs to, ‘See the mark of the nails in his hands, and put his finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in Jesus’ side.’ Again, Jesus addresses the needs of a very hurting and fearful Jesus and appears to Thomas and says, “Peace be with you. Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”
Both Thomas and Jesus have been hurt and scarred. Jesus was very clear about how he was to die, by crucifixion, and Thomas needed to see the scars from such a terrible way to be put to death. And Jesus understood Thomas’s need, and showed Thomas that He was indeed scarred. It was this opening up of Jesus, of our God, to show a hurting child in the skin of an adult, that helped heal Thomas of his fear and doubt.
Jesus is the scarred healer, the wounded healer, for Thomas.
And what does that say about our Lord for us? When Jesus was raised from the dead, he wasn't covered in blood and other wounds, but His body wasn't unmarred. Our Saviors’ very own body bears the scars of what our salvation and forgiveness required.
Our Savior understands our every pain and sadness. Our savior understands even what it means to be betrayed as well as celebrated. We carry scars from so many terrible experiences, but that does not mean we can’t be healed and resurrected back into the people of faith God meant us to be.
Thanks to our Stephen Ministry Program and just getting older, I have learned that some of our best caregivers are the ones with the most scars. The people who are scarred, but not angry, bitter or resentful; those who have been hurt and scarred, but have allowed Jesus’ presence remind them that Jesus is with them every moment of their lives, especially when we may feel afraid, doubtful or alone. We may sometimes feel totally alone, but the Gospel reminds us that it is especially at this time Jesus comes to us and says, I am with you always, therefore your true Peace, Hope, Joy and source of Faith is with you! Amen.
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Father grant that what we sing with our lips
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We may believe in our hearts
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And what we believe in our hearts
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We may show forth in our lives
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Through our Lord Jesus Christ
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