It is the month of Easter. It is spring and it's signs are all around us, and we want to be outside, active after the long winter. The Easter celebration is part of spring. At Easter we remember the crucifixion of Jesus, and celebrate his resurrection. Every year we do this in the springtime.
A pastor's responsibility at Easter is to proclaim the resurrection. And in proclaiming to try and connect it's relevance to our lives now. I recently reread an article I've had for years. It was about the story of the Disciple Thomas as told in John 20. After his resurrection Jesus had appeared to the disciples, except for Thomas. Thomas didn't believe them and famously responded, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” This is where we get doubting Thomas.
It's been a long time since these events occurred. What do you and I believe about the resurrection? We were not eye witnesses. We can't really place ourselves in that day and time or understand the culture. Perhaps we can't conceive of the cruelty of crucifixion. We certainly can't place our hands upon the wounds of Jesus. We have trouble engaging the story in our modern time. What do we believe about the resurrection?
The reality is that many of us have doubts. Perhaps doubts about the particular events the Scriptures record for us, we just can't understand how such things can happen. We can't really place ourselves there. Perhaps honestly, we doubt the relevance of the resurrection for us today. Certainly many in our culture doubt. But we believe it happened, so what does it mean to me?
A week after Thomas had expressed doubt, Jesus appeared to the disciples again and this time Thomas was there. Jesus invited him to “see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” This is enough for Thomas, he proclaims, “My Lord and my God!” There's no record he ever physically touched Jesus to feel his wounds.
The article I mentioned earlier reminds us that today we are among those of whom Jesus spoke when he told Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” This is us. This message of Jesus has meaning for us and calls us to faith. Faith in what we've been taught. Taught by our families, our churches and Scripture itself. We have relied on the witness and faith of others, and it has been the soil in which our own faith has taken root.
The resurrection is relevant today! As John goes on to say, the stories of Jesus are written “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” We are asked to believe a lot of different things these days. So it is that this pastor can't make the Easter event relevant for you. I can't say anything that would cause you to believe. I will remind you that belief places us among the blessed who have not seen but have believed. This belief sets us apart from those who do not believe. It is the reason for our hope in life. It is our salvation.
I will simply leave you with a question, what do you believe?
Blessings Pastor Jay