By the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham
Have you ever been in that situation where a bunch of friends have been to an event which they were so excited about they can’t stop talking about and they keep saying things like, what you were there, you should have been there in you just don’t understand what you missed? Thomas surely felt a bit like that, after the first event of Easter.
We have no idea why he wasn’t there. We’re not told. But he wasn’t in the upper room on the first Easter Sunday evening when Jesus appeared. Now the rest of the disciples would have been so excited and ecstatic about what they’d experienced, confused and wondering as well, but excited. And then Thomas comes in, and they keep telling him about what they’ve seen what they’ve heard, and how amazing it is. And the poor Thomas’s left saying, but I wasn’t here. I didn’t see I can’t believe unless I see.
Through the whole of the rest of the week surely, they must have had debates and discussions about what what Thomas hadn’t seen and why he wouldn’t. But there we are, a week later, in the upper room still locked away for fear. They haven’t travelled up to Galilee as they’ve been told to do. But Thomas is there. And suddenly, the risen Jesus is there in their midst. And he’s holding his hands out to Thomas saying “look and see, he shows him his side”. Thomas does not need to touch. He’s seen enough and he falls to his knees, My Lord and my God. This is worship of the living Jesus. That surely is the right response to the risen Jesus – worship. But then Jesus talks about blessing of those who believe without seeing!
John, in his gospel surely is making a point very clearly to all who are reading. You won’t see the risen Jesus in the way that Thomas did. You won’t see the risen Jesus in the way the disciples did you believe through their testimony, you believe without seeing, but believe, and you discover the living Jesus alive in you and in relationship with you. Peter says much the same to those to whom he writes in his first letter, you believe without having seen.
Now we’ve got used now to believing in something we can’t see. It’s called Coronavirus. No one’s ever seen it, except those who look under microscopes. But we know about the effects we hear about the effects we see the effects. The Living Jesus now, is known and seen through the impact the effect that he makes on us as His followers trusting him. Our lives are the living testimony of the risen Jesus. So in this time of difficulty and trial, where meeting others is difficult but we can serve by praying by phoning by volunteering we’re allowed to, by encouraging in every way we possibly can, using all the different media we have.
May our lives be living testimonies to the risen Jesus Christ, in whom we trust. And may our prayer be that through this Easter season, other people will see the living Jesus because of the testimony that we bear. May we, be living witnesses of the risen, living Jesus, who we declare, My Lord and my God.