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Sunday, 11 April 2021 07:00

Resurrection Reads #7 - Thomas. Doubt and Square Watermelons

 2021.27.Ressurection Reads 7 FBAs the Easter Octave draws to a close, we join with Thomas and his experience with the Risen Jesus. Today is also Divine Mercy Sunday, but we will share more about that with you later this week!

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

 

2021.27.Resurrection Reads 7 Thomas imageIf I told you there in Japan, they grow square watermelons because they will stack better in the shops, would you believe me, or would you be filled with doubt? Leave that one in the back of your mind for a moment, and come with me on a journey with Thomas, commonly referred to as the doubter.

He wasn’t in the room that day when Jesus appeared to the rest of the disciples. Perhaps he had gone to organise dinner, or have some time on his own. But wherever he was, while he was gone, Jesus came and appeared to the rest of the disciples. He showed them his hands and his side, offered them peace, breathed the power of the Spirit on to them and sent them forth to offer forgiveness of sins.

Thomas returns, and maybe this is projection, but I imagine he felt a little disgruntled, maybe majorly disgruntled, left out, ripped off and alone. The other disciples, his friends, had an amazing experience and he had missed it. And when they told him, his response indicated something like being expected to believe that they grow square watermelons in Japan. He wanted proof, he wanted to use the square watermelon for the next game he played that needed a dice, or more realistically, he wanted to see the mark of the nails and place his hands in the hole on Jesus’ side.

We then read in the scriptures that it was a week until Jesus appeared again – a whole week. I wonder what Thomas was like in those days. Was he swallowed by dejection? Did he pray and seek God in his confusion? Did the changes in the other disciples start to convince him that what he had been told was real? The day comes and Jesus appears again – this time Thomas is present. Jesus invites him to touch his hands and his side, and he utters, ‘My Lord and my God’.

2021.27.Resurrection Reads 7 ThomasJesus responds by saying, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe’. In many ways, this is the camp which we fall into. We have not seen Jesus in the same way that the disciples did, so how are we called to respond to the story of Thomas.

I think two things stand out for me – we are invited to SEEK JESUS and BE SOUGHT BY JESUS. We seek him and invite him into our doubt, our fear and our confusion. Yet we also open ourselves to being sought by him, so that like Thomas, he can meet us in a deeply intimate and personal way in the midst of our deepest vulnerability.

(By the way, doubt no more, because square watermelons are a real thing)

Mel Edwards