“These things are written that you might believe…and that believing you might have life in his name”
We pick up this morning right where we left off last week. But now the Risen Lord takes the initiative and meets the disciples, seeks them out, stands among them in the Upper Room. He breathes his peace on them. Where before there was puzzlement and coming to terms with his new presence among them, now there is rejoicing. And commissioning.
But one man was not there. Thomas. What do we know about Thomas? He is a twin. Well, that tells us a bit. Being a twin has its challenges. Do the parents give equal attention? Should they rely on each other? Form their own league against the world? And we know a bit more because at Bethany, where Jesus goes to meet Lazarus in the tomb, Thomas says, “Let us go, too, and die with him.” Not exactly a serotonin-donor of enthusiasm and hope.
But the Risen Jesus not only accommodates his temperament, he allows himself to be probed and for all he’s worth. Down into nail wounds. Into his very side. The offer alone converts Thomas’s doubts and stubborn, maybe even sad, self-reliance into worship and praise. Giving him a line the non-twins of the world will want to copy: “My Lord and my God.”
But we should pay attention to the real punch line this morning for it is addressed to us. Do you think faith would be easier had you only been there? Been among the select group of 100 or so to whom he appeared? If the Risen Jesus could beam himself into your house via the wonders of social media, would that make faith easier?
John gives a surprising answer. No. We have something no one in the Upper Room had in the form we have it. And John judges it more potent to give us vibrant and lasting faith. We have this amazing record, an account provided by the Holy Spirit at work in John and the other evangelists.
“These things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that believing you might have life in his name.”
John insists we are not 2000 year later late-comers. Jesus even did things that if written down the whole world could not contain. But that is so much irrelevance measured against the powerful testimony we do have, rich and ready: to convict, encourage, inspire and bring the Risen Lord here and now to you and me.
Often we refer to this story as “Doubting Thomas” but he is there chiefly to make the main point. Though not one of the 100 or so who saw him, ate with him, tried to comprehend his new life with us, we are all the same witnesses of the Risen Lord, on the terms he has prepared for us to know him now.
“Blessed are those who have not seen but yet have come to believe.”
Friends, he is talking about you and me. And he really means it. We’re in a good place. Not a late place. We’re not missing. We are present. Let us rejoice in the rejoicing that belongs to our place in time in his Body. Let us give thanks for the means by which he chooses now to make himself fully known, as he promised, in scripture and in the breaking of bread.
And it is to that account from St Luke that we turn next week.