Last week we remembered and relived the resurrection in John 19:38-42;20:1-23 (Pope Francis said in his ‘Resurrection Homily’ that Mary’s tears at the empty tomb were her “glasses” through which she saw Jesus ever more clearly. Our tears of sadness, loss, trouble, pain, etc, are a gift to see God ‘in all things’).
Mark (Mark 16:9-14), the earliest Gospel, says Jesus appeared to various people after his resurrection, re-affirming the call and commission to follow, form and fish.
Luke says (Acts 1:3) the risen Jesus revealed himself to many over a period of 40 days (before He ascended to heaven) teaching them about the Kingdom of God. He was weaning them from dependence on his physical presence, to live by faith (not by sight) in his invisible presence: His indwelling Holy Spirit.
Thomas’ encounter with Jesus (John 20:24-30)
Firstly, what is the significance of his followers recognizing and identifying Jesus by the marks of crucifixion – His scars (that he will have throughout eternity)?
Thomas’ encounter happened on the Sunday, a week after the resurrection – the first day of the week symbolizing new beginnings in Hebrew idea of the eight-day of creation. Read the story and think about new beginnings for Thomas.
See John 11:16, 14:5, 20:24-29, 21:2: think about his personality & character: honest, real, devoted, courageous, loyal, questioning, doubting, believing…
See how Jesus came to Thomas personally within the gathered community, because he knew Thomas’ doubts, he spoke his name, invited vulnerable touching… intimacy… this is Jesus’ tender love and personalized ministry. When and how has Jesus come to you in a similar manner? Ask him to come…
Thomas’ personal experience of Jesus led to transformation – his response, “My Lord and my God” reveals his radical paradigm shift: his confession and surrender, his transformed trust and true worship of Jesus as his God. Every encounter with Jesus, no matter how ‘mild’ or ‘small’, is transformative.
The center of the story is John 20:29, Jesus says: “You’re happy because you’ve seen me and now believe, but happier are those who have not seen and yet believe”. This is learning to live by the invisible / indwelling Holy Spirit rather than Jesus’ physical presence; “living by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 4:18, 5:7): to trust God in all situations beyond our own control, beyond our own understanding of him, or of what’s going on. How can you learn to truly trust Jesus? (Due to what he’s done for you, who he is – resurrected and ‘in charge’ of all things; see Rom 8:28)
The conclusion is John 20:31, John’s statement of purpose: “I’ve written these stories that you may believe… and by believing you have life – God’s eternal life”.