Wounded Resurrection Power Restores Community
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Jesus’ resurrection confronts the sadness and loneliness of Thomas’s doubt. Many people in congregations left last Sunday’s celebration of the resurrection with feelings similar to those of Thomas. Somehow, Thomas was not in the right place at the right time to see Jesus show up in the flesh. No doubt, people in the pews can relate to Thomas’s missed opportunity. Perhaps they were unable to attend a family Easter gathering. Maybe a bunch of friends had box seats to the hottest game in town, and they were not able to afford one. Maybe a chemo treatment interrupted an opportunity for career advancement. Human beings are endlessly plagued with feelings of not fully belonging to the group, and they desire a savior to use magical power to restore perfection.
Time and again, the disciples seek a messiah who overwhelms them and the world with crushing military might and magical cures. Today, the power of the resurrection is most realized in the real, deep wounds of Jesus’ own body. Without those wounds and the real sacrifice that God made on the cross, Thomas’s faith would always be hobbled by his overwhelming doubt. Yet people still ask: how can God’s reality of overflowing love and life confront and transform our parched world and wounded bodies?
Jesus makes faith happen today by breathing the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and blessing them with peace. He shows Thomas and all God’s people that the life-changing resurrection embraces the wounds all people carry. God the Creator’s peace, Jesus’ wounds, and the breath of the Holy Spirit lead Thomas to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. Then, Thomas trusts God to care for his body and his life. Just like Jesus’ ministry prior to the cross, Jesus reaches for the outsider and restores Thomas to his place in the community.
Gospel: John 20:19-31
The story of Easter continues as the risen Jesus appears to his disciples. His words to Thomas offer a blessing to all who entrust themselves in faith to the risen Lord.
19When 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.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So 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.”
26A 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.” 27Then 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.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But 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.