You know what?   
I think “Doubting Thomas” gets a bad rap.
If immediately recognizing the resurrected Christ as the Jesus of Nazareth was a test, almost everyone failed
.
It's almost comical; it's like an Abbot and Costello movie.
Mary of Magdalene thought he was the gardener.  And when she ran back to tell the apostles, they didn't believe her.  Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves.

The men walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus talked with him for hours, but didn't recognize him until they sat down and broke bread.

Finally, the apostles fishing did not recognize Jesus on the shore until he filled their empty nets with fish and prepared breakfast for them on the beach.

So I think we should cut Thomas some slack.

In fact, we should probably cut all of the disciples some slack.

Having watched their leader unjustly arrested, scourged, and condemned, they rightfully all feared for their lives.

Hadn't Peter denied Jesus out of fear?

So it's perhaps understandable that it took multiple appearances before they recognized Christ.  But when they got it, they really got it.

Mary ran exclaiming loudly, “I have seen The Lord!”

The disciples hurried back from Emmaus to Jerusalem in the middle of the night to share the exciting news with the apostles.

Peter, couldn't wait for the boat to get to shore, jumping off into the water.

There was no more “doubt.”

Today, we certainly have our share of doubters who don't believe in the resurrection.  But for most Christians, belief is not the issue.

We were taught to believe at an early age and we accepted it.  We are reminded of the story every year.  So instead of moving as the disciples did, from doubt and malaise to belief and joy, many of us move the other way: from belief, followed by year after year of the same story, to an indifference of sorts.  Another year, Another spring, Another Easter.

A far cry from the unrestrained joy of that first Easter.

It's probably unrealistic to think that 2000 years later, we can experience the same joy as the disciples who were there.  But how do we try to recover some of the wonder and magic, the sense that everything has changed?  After all these years, how do we go from simply believing in the resurrection to living the resurrection?

Consider the following modern parable.

There was a group of devout disciples who followed Jesus throughout his ministry in Galilee and Judea all the way to Jerusalem.  They were there on Calvary and they watched their hopes and dreams get crushed on the cross. Out of fear, they left Jerusalem that Friday and went as far away as they could.

They found an isolated place where they could settle down and start their own community.  Now as sad as they were to see their leader, their teacher die, they still held fast to what they learned from him.  They created a community founded on all the principles that Jesus had taught them.  And they lived this way for decades until they were discovered by some missionaries.

The missionaries were startled to learn that this community did not know Christ was risen.  So with great excitement, they shared the glorious news.

Upon hearing this, the community had an enormous celebration.  However, during the party, the leader of the community was strangely quiet.  One of the missionaries asked him what the matter was.

We have modeled our very lives on what He taught because we judged those values worthy of our emulation.  But now, following your news, I am concerned that my children and my children's children may follow him, not because of his life and teaching, but selfishly, because his sacrifice will ensure their personal salvation and eternal life.

Now this is a very thought-provoking parable.  Here we have two communities.

One is living the life that Jesus advocated; sharing, loving one another, taking care of each other even though there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, no jackpot.   Simply because it is the right thing to do.

Their leader fears that having learned of the resurrection and the eternal life it promises, the people will simple stop following the teachings of Jesus.

In other words, having received the free gift of eternal life, the people will cease choosing the harder right values rather than the easier wrong values.

The other community has been given the pot of gold, and yet they did not sit at home with it.  They felt compelled to go out and find people, to share the the incredibly joyful news of the resurrection with them.

I think we can learn from both of these groups about the two greatest gifts ever given—the Incarnation and the Resurrection.

The community that left after Golgotha represents the ongoing Incarnation.

Living as Jesus lived, they are the hands and feet of Christ, his continued presence in this world.  They teach us that resurrection should not stand by itself.

While it is the exclamation point on Jesus' life, we cannot separate the resurrection from the model of life He showed us how to live.

The community of missionaries represent the joy of the Resurrection—the gift that was undeserved, the jackpot.  Instead of simply enjoying their treasure, they felt compelled to leave their homes, travel long distances to spread the joy and the good news.  They remind us that while we won the jackpot, we have to share our treasure with others.

 Easter is not only an opportunity to proclaim that He is risen, it is also a time to start to live as he called us to live.  That means not only sharing the good news of the resurrection, but like the community that left on Good Friday, also being the ongoing Incarnation.

Amen


 


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