Faith and / or doubt
Easter is not a single day, but the Easter Season continues till Pentecost, which is 50 days on the day of Resurrection. Easter should also be a life-style, living in the knowledge of the Resurrection and living out the joy, peace and witness of the Resurrection.
Easy to say that, but not so easy to do, because we are human, we are easily blown off-course, easily distracted. All too often the Resurrection does not feel real, or maybe does not feel as if it has made the difference we want. We tend to confuse the Resurrection with the coming of God’s Kingdom. The world on Easter Sunday morning was still ruled by the Romans, and so many people still struggled. Unlike in a super-hero film, Jesus did not rise from the tomb and deliver the knock-out blow to the baddies, rescue all the prisoners and leave the world sorted. The Book of Revelation describes this sort of finale but it is still to come.
Thomas was a realist who said he would not believe unless he saw the evidence, though what he wanted to see was evidence of the crucifixion, not Jesus himself! He wanted to see that this person was the one who had been crucified. For some people today, the idea that Jesus was raised is too difficult, even impossible to believe – it is not humanly possible; it is not the sort of thing that happens in the real world. For others, the church does not reveal its faith sufficiently; people look at the church / churches and they do not see the love of God, the hope and the faith evident in our lives and our actions and our hearts. Do people see Easter Joy, Easter Hope, Easter Love and Easter Peace in how we live and how we respond to the needs and hurts around us? And of course there are many who are not looking, who are not interested, who are too busy.
One of the most shocking truths of the Resurrection is that so few people were included. What a terrible way to promote such a wonderful truth! The crucifixion was at least public, but the Resurrection was not- Jesus appeared quietly and rather strangely to his friends and followers, in the dawn, in the upper-room, by the lake-shore in the early morning. There is a mystery and an incompleteness in the accounts which reflects the mystery of the resurrection appearances.
The Resurrection is an invitation not a command; it is an offer not a public proclamation. Most people continued their lives that Sunday unaware; it is for us to share this news, and it is for others to choose to make space for Jesus or not. This does not mean the Resurrection is not important or central, but Jesus still asks and invites and offers; but what a gift he offers to those who receive, even if it is not the complete gift yet.
The Resurrection is about Jesus with us now, God with us in this world, and the promise of his presence and new life through and beyond the grave. We will still mourn, and we will still face death ourselves; the world is still a hard place and so hard for too many. Jesus came to his disciples with reassurance and an inner peace – Thomas struggled to believe; Mary was distraught; the disciples were anxious. Jesus offered each and all his gift of peace so they could live in hope and with confidence in God’s continued love and plan for their lives whatever would happen.
John reminds his readers that even though we have not seen the risen Jesus as the disciples did, we are blessed if we believe, and the gospels were written to help our belief.
Rev’d Peter Reiss