“To live in the light of the resurrection is what Easter means.”
Thomas and the Risen Christ!
I am writing this during Easter week, which is special for most of us. For me, it draws me back to my dramatic encounter with the Lord during Easter week, 1954. My sister provoked me to go with her to church dressed in my Navy uniform. There the Lord confronted me in a manner that was my personal “resurrection” from ten years of back-sliding. Firmly in His grip, I immediately embarked on a relentless and adventurous journey pursuing the Kingdom of God. From my 68-year journey, the testimony is clear: Judith and I have experienced repeated forms of “death and resurrection”. These have become the foundations of the Kingdom purpose in our lives.
I would like to impart to each of you, a personal insight into the encounter of Thomas, the doubter, with the resurrected Christ.
Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.” Thomas said, “My Master! My God!” (John 20:27-28).
There seems to be more to the story than Jesus giving witness to His literal resurrection. Why had Thomas earlier requested to touch Jesus’ wounds? You may draw your own conclusions, but I think perhaps Thomas was seeking assurance that the wounds, the humanity, and ultimate conquest of death by Life were real. Jesus was inviting Thomas to place his hands into the reality of wounds. By standing there with His wounds revealed and touchable, Christ suggested to the disciples that they too could experience similar wounding.
Do we understand the miraculous possibility that we who follow Him will be required to experience repeated death and resurrection? The lesson is quite demanding. Christ was standing there both wounded and glorified in resurrection at the same time. Thomas was invited to touch at once both the human and the divine.
An unavoidable principle emerges: resurrection life (Zoe) flows out of spiritual death and resurrection.
Death and resurrection is a universal, eternal, inescapable reality written into the very fabric of all creation from galaxies to germs. Water Baptism is Father’s request for us to give Him tacit permission to expose us to a life that requires repeated wounding, death, and resurrection. I have had the privilege of being invited to “put my own hand” in Jesus’ wounds. I knew I would be wounded, but those very wounds make possible the life of resurrection.
Most of us have been up close and personal with wounding. If we who have been wounded are able to “put our hands into” His wounds and experience His resurrection life, then we have the potential of imparting that life to those who have been wounded and are living without hope of healing. It is out of our death and resurrection that we are enabled to impart life to others. Death in me is the source of life imparted to others.
We are standing before the hurting world as the Body of Christ. We are a people who know both the death and the kind of life (Zoe) that comes out of death. The hurting, wounded world is looking for those who are able to exude life out of their wounds. Will we hide our wounds under a cloak of religious words? Perhaps, like Thomas, they will need to see our wounds. They may need to witness the reality of the resurrection in the midst of wounded humanity. Jesus says it clearly: Out of your inner most being will flow Life to others (John 7:38).