A number of my friends pointed out that Easter Sunday this year was more like that first Easter than most of us have ever experienced. We were hovering in our homes, most often behind locked doors. Fearful of the future . . . Worrying about loved ones . . . Not sure when anything resembling normal will return, all because Covid19 had upended our lives.
Late on the first Easter Jesus greets his disciples behind locked doors. Thomas, having missed out on that moment, doubts. We never learn where Thomas was or why he was absent. We know nothing of duties or despair that kept him from the others.
We only know, he was not there. Having missed out, he didn’t believe anything about the stories he was hearing. He doubted tales that Jesus had risen and had visited his friends. He doubted the truth of their witness. Indeed, why should he believe, when he himself had predicted Jesus’ death as well as his own if they returned to Judea. “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16) he’d said.
Thomas, with plenty of good reasons, doubted. He doubted through the entire week after hearing first hand witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. He doubts the personal accounts relayed to him. He doubts, wondering if all the stories are wishful thinking turned into mass hysteria among his friends. Thomas doubted what he wanted to believe. He wanted to believe that his beloved Jesus had somehow survived death on a cross and impossibly been resurrected.
It takes a lot to believe when our hearts break. In our despairing, it is hard to believe that God can bring life out of death and our dead ends. Hope languishes, when anguish meets us in the morning and sobs wake us in the night. Belief that tomorrow will be brighter seems a distant dream. The experience of meeting the Risen Christ changes everything for Thomas. From doubter and skeptic, despairing and lost, he is filled with awe and reverence, proclaiming, ‘My Lord and my God! (John 20:28)
What was true for Thomas is true for us. Meeting the Risen Christ changes everything . . . our worldview, our possibilities, our dreams and our values. In the center of our being we discover the deepest essence of love. Meaning is added to our days and purpose to our lives. While the pain of what we have lost may never fully disappear, God’s gift of new life in the Risen Christ will guide us step by step into a future filled with hope and promise.
“In God’s great mercy by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, God gave us new birth into a living hope, the hope of an inheritance, reserved in heaven for you, which nothing can destroy or spoil or wither.” I Peter 1:3b-4 REB