Last week, I wrote about how one little task changes entire lives: Just Remember! The women at Jesus’ empty tomb went from shock and sorrow to hope and joy because they were reminded of Jesus’ promises. They remembered that they should have expected this victory. They should know it: Jesus lives. And that means your life has purpose.
Remember and things are very different. Our reading for today follows that up with another thing that changes everything from the way the world sees it to how God sees it. Believe. You probably know the story. It’s recorded in John 20:19-31. It was still Easter Sunday. Jesus had risen from the dead that morning, just like he had said he would. But the disciples weren’t sure if they should buy it. For most of them, they hadn’t seen him yet. They just had a few startling reports to go on.
Then it happened. Jesus was there with them in that room, showing them his hands and feet, showing them his flesh and bones, giving them their marching orders for spreading this news. But Thomas didn’t see it. And he wasn’t going to buy something this big just on its word. We can appreciate that, right?
Have there been times when God’s promises seemed a little bit too big for you to buy? You know, when God promises to take care of your needs and asks you to live according to his will and you figure that the only way to make ends meet is skirting around what God wants — whether that means living together with that special someone before marriage or finding less than honest ways to make or save a buck (yesterday was tax day, after all). Has there been the time when God promised he’s working it all out for your good and you got mad because his definition of what would be good for you and what you wanted didn’t match?
Basically, we’re saying the same thing Thomas did: "I won’t believe your promises, God, unless I see them." He should have known. We should have known. Believing changes everything.
Here is where we see Jesus’ incomprehensible love for us: Jesus let Thomas see him, even though he didn’t believe. Jesus gave him faith. The next week, Thomas was there, and Jesus appeared, proving beyond a shadow of even Thomas’ doubt, that he has risen. Jesus loved Thomas when he didn’t deserve it.
And he has done the same for us. Jesus has given us his word, where he appears to us. Remember one of the names the Bible uses for Jesus…The Word (John 1). In it, Jesus shows us his hands and feet, describing what he has done, reminding us of his promises, and proving to us the sacrifice for our sins is complete.
When Thomas saw it, when he saw his Savior, the only thing he could say was: "My Lord and my God!" Believing changed him from a depressed doubter to someone standing in awe at the grace of God and Christ’s love in his life. Jesus has proved himself to us too. Get into God’s word and into a church this Easter season and let Jesus prove himself to you again.
Then we’ll be saying it with Thomas: "My Lord and my God."
The Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.