Considering the Resurrection
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Thomas had watched as Jesus was arrested, stripped, beaten, humiliated, crucified, and died. He knew his friend, the one in whom he had placed his hopes, had been killed and buried. But almost immediately there came reports that Jesus’s tomb was empty and He was alive. First Mary Magdalene reported it. Some other women corroborated it. Two from Emmaus came and said they had seen the risen Christ. Peter also told of seeing Jesus alive after his violent death. Then Thomas’s closest friends, the ten disciples all claimed that Jesus appeared to them, showing them his hands and side. Thomas, despite his friendship with them, couldn’t believe it. He simply wouldn’t believe it. He remained skeptical of the idea of a physical resurrection and said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Maybe, like Thomas, you’ve remained skeptical about the physical resurrection of Jesus. Maybe in spite of your friends’ reports you feel like you can’t believe. Maybe, like Thomas, you sense you need more evidence.
Is there evidence outside of the empty tomb worth considering?
Consider the early reports of Jesus' disciples. They didn’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection because of an empty tomb, just like you don’t believe in butterflies because of an empty chrysalis case. You believe in butterflies because you see them. They believed in Jesus because they saw him. They talked with him, ate with him, and walked with him for a full forty days! They believed in Jesus because they had personally encountered the risen Jesus.
Consider the birth of Christianity. It did not exist until about AD 30, and then just as its leader was executed and his movement seemed extinguished, it suddenly burst into life and spread like wildfire. Why did Christianity emerge so rapidly and spread so quickly? Something must have started it off. What can you suggest if not the resurrection of Jesus? Jesus’ disciples fled and cowered in fear when he was first arrested, but now nothing could silence them. What could be the cause of the change if not the resurrection of Jesus? This was the start of a movement that outlived the Roman Empire and has penetrated every country on earth, and nothing can account for it other than the truth of the resurrection of Christ.
Consider the transformed lives. Jesus proves his resurrection not so much by arguments in a book, but by the lives he takes and reshapes as they enter into a relationship with him. This has always been the case. The earliest surviving document of the resurrection of Jesus was written by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, dating from the early 50’s in the first century. He writes:
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me."
Nothing else explains the transformation of Paul; from the most dangerous enemy of the early church into the greatest evangelist the world has ever known, other than the resurrection of Jesus.
Consider Jesus’ words. Could it be that Jesus is saying to you what he said so many years ago to Thomas, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
The response of Thomas once he had seen the risen Christ and received his mercy and grace was a declaration of faith - he said of Jesus, ““My Lord and my God!”
As we consider the resurrection and prepare for Passion Week, please take note of our schedule and plan on joining us for Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday as we celebrate and meditate on the Lord’s sacrificial love, leading us to worship Jesus and join Thomas in exclaiming, “My Lord and my God!”