How many people do you know that you would trust their word, 100% without any doubts? The trouble is that we are taught from an early age to investigate the facts – to test everything, to not take anything on face value, but to only believe the things that can be tested scientifically. Now, the empirical approach is a good one…but it is based on the assumption that everything worth believing can be put in a test tube or deduced from a survey.
After Jesus’ resurrection something about his appearance was different – his resurrected body was like his physical body – but somehow different. He was not confined to the restrictions of time and space; he could walk through walls and even his closest friends had to be convinced that he was really Jesus. The evidence of his resurrection was in the marks on his hands and side. The same hands that healed the blind – reached out to the leper – fed the hungry and embraced the children – were permanently marked by cruel nails. The blood that flowed to the ground from the hole in his side bought forgiveness for the world that had rejected him.
At the time the disciples had no idea that this had always been the BIG picture – God mission plan from the beginning; and now, he was inviting them to be part of that plan. He said, ‘as the father sent me; so I send you’ …. He breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit and gave them the authority to do what he did, in his name. It took a little convincing that he was really alive – he ate some food; showed them his scars and after a while they were convinced…and gradually it began to make sense. All the teaching; talking; serving; healing; helping; praying and confronting… with the help of the Holy Spirit and the benefit of hindsight, everything began to make sense.
Can you imagine the conversation when Jesus had left the building…?
There must have been a mix of excitement and wonder as they repeated his words and pondered what it all meant and then came Thomas. Poor old Thomas gets a bad name for his unbelief, yet he just missed the proof that everyone else had received. His statement that he would not believe unless he saw Jesus himself has become the central to the call of Christ on all of our lives. Like Thomas we too have to make a choice to believe, without seeing, but unlike Thomas most of us never get to see Jesus in person…but we see the results of the living Christ in his followers; the people who, like Thomas have declared him, their Lord and their God.
Becoming a believer sets us on a course that follows the footsteps of Christ across human history and interacts with our needy world outside our door and across the world. To believe that Jesus is Lord, sets him on a par with God and challenges us to follow his commands to love; forgive and to give. We cannot fulfil God’s mission in our own strength, but with the gift of the Holy Spirit we can achieve all the things he desires.