Did you know that Easter isn't just one day?
It is true. Easter is an entire season in the worship life of the church, a time when we celebrate the gifts of resurrection and new life. The Season of Easter last seven full weeks -- from Easter Sunday (technically the First Sunday of Easter) until Pentecost.
Which makes this Sunday the Second Sunday of Easter and the Second Sunday of Easter always gives us a particular story: Doubting Thomas.
Now I'm on record here. John 20:19-31 is one of my favorite stories in all of the Gospels. I couldn't help myself with my Whiteboard picture this week, it was just too easy to play off of the Little Engine That Could, Thomas the Tank Engine, and the paralyzing power of doubt to keep us from all that God calls us to be.
But I'm also on record that poor Thomas got a bum rap. Read the story closely. Go ahead. I've copied it to the bottom of this blog post, so go ahead and read it. I'll wait.
Okay, are you done? Good!
Seems pretty unfair that we call him Doubting Thomas, right? I mean, at the very least, if he is Doubting Thomas then we need to call the rest of that motley crew The Disbelieving Disciples. After all, the Disbelieving Disciples are the ones that have sealed themselves away behind a locked door. The Disbelieving Disciples are the ones who have forgotten everything that Jesus told them that foretold his death and resurrection. And yet the Risen Christ comes to them despite their doubts, despite their unfaithfulness, despite their fears. Just like the Risen Christ comes to Thomas...despite his doubts, despite his unfaithfulness, despite his fears.
But Thomas is the one who gets the legacy defining nickname, even though Thomas actually comes to the fullness of belief and even brings about a blessing for you and me (you'll hear more about that on Sunday!).
I love the story of Doubting Thomas and the Disbelieving Disciples, and I'm glad that we get the chance to hear it once more and all over again this Second Sunday of Easter. I can think of no better and important text for us on our seven week journey of new life than to talk about doubt right off the top.
So come join us this Sunday as we celebrate the Risen Lord and new life lived in his name!
John 20:19-31 Jesus Appears to the Discples
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, 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 the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, 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. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt 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 come to believe.’
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.