John 20:10-31 (NRSV)
Verse 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Verse 11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; Verse 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. Verse 13They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." Verse 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Verse 15Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Verse 16Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Verse 17Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Verse 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
Verse 19When 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." Verse 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Verse 21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Verse 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Verse 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." Verse 24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. Verse 25So 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."
Verse 26A 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." Verse 27Then 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." Verse 28Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Verse 29Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." Verse 30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. Verse 31But 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.
Where do you find joy? A seminary professor from Madagascar told me that the western mind finds it difficult to understand the African culture, mainly because we are almost exclusively fact based, and much of his world acknowledged the mysteries of faith. He was pointing to our common need to see something to believe it, a comment that resonates with this story in the Gospel of John. Over the years Thomas has been vilified as the “doubting” one, yet as we think about it, all the disciples, like many of us, needed some kind of proof of the resurrected Jesus. Jesus knew this and appeared to them not once but twice to make sure they were included among the believers, and then stated that the ones who believe without seeing are the ones who are truly blessed. In that blessed belief is also our joy. Thomas gave us a confession to model: “My Lord and my God!” What could be more joyful?
Gracious God, lead us to be like the father who cried out, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Give us eyes to see the way, the truth, and the light, so that we can guide others to you. Allow us to understand those things that seem to be a mystery. Amen.