Second Sunday of Easter, April 11

Reader: “You believe because you have seen me.”

Response: “Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Scripture:  John 20:24-31 

One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

Reader: “The powerful word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Some thoughts:  

Last Sunday morning Peter and John had been to the empty tomb and had left befuddled as to what had happened to the body of Jesus. Then Jesus appeared to them last Sunday night while they were timidly hiding in a room behind locked doors. Fear of worldly forces and circumstances can often consume Christians when they lose focus on God’s power and sovereignty. Such was the case of the cowering disciples. Into this situation, the dead Jesus they saw on the cross three days previous, suddenly appears in their midst very much alive coming through the locked door. Thomas was not present with the rest of the disciples that Easter Sunday evening.

Here we are a week later. Once again the disciples have gathered still in hiding though this time Thomas is with them. Sometimes, I fear, he gets a bad rap. Thomas was very much a realist. It was he who said, when Jesus informed the disciples that he was going back to Jerusalem to wake Lazarus from his sleep, “let’s all go and die with you.” He understood the real danger of Jesus’ returning at that time (Jn.11:16). It was Thomas who wanted clarity on “the way” where Jesus was going (Jn. 14:5). Thomas was not shy about expressing himself in wanting to grasp the full significance of Jesus’ ministry. He was definitely not a “let’s just go with the flow” kind of guy. He wanted solid evidence.

We don’t know why Thomas was not with the other disciples that first Sunday, but he had heard from them regarding Jesus’ appearance that remarkable night and he wasn’t buying it. He wanted proof for himself. Can you imagine his reaction when Jesus appeared again? I can almost hear the conversation . . .

Jesus, “So Thomas, good to see you. Missed you last Sunday. I heard you say something about touching my hands and my side? 

Thomas, “Uh . . . umm . . .uh”

Jesus, “I’m here. Go ahead. What’s holding you back?” 

Can you imagine the swirling thoughts going on in the psyche of that disciple? Thomas, overwhelmed, spontaneously erupts with the great declaration, “My Lord and my God!” This acclimation was not only a personal testimony of belief, it was an echoing of the proclamation at the beginning of John’s gospel. “The Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Scripture does not say if Thomas ever did touch Jesus’ side.

Jesus concludes this encounter with the prophetic words that include us, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” In a sense, we are like Thomas in that we’ve never seen Jesus. In one way, it’s like we are in the week between the resurrection and Jesus’ appearance to the disciples eight days later. But unlike Thomas, we do believe in Jesus’ resurrection. We’re just waiting for his return on the “eighth day,” the Day of the New Creation as it’s referred to in both Testaments, when “every eye shall see him, even those who pierced him” (Rev.1:7). Thomas’ realism has done the skeptics and all of us a great favor. He is risen indeed!

Music: “Worthy Is the Lamb” from Messiah   Robert Shaw (The conclusion of Messiah)    Glorious AMEN!!


 “I Have Seen the Lord”        Vigil

Prayer:Show us, O God, most holy, according to the measure of our mortal sight, the glory of the risen Christ, for as the rising sun breaks upon the night shadows and day leaps into joy, so has Christ overcome the powers of darkness and of death, and has disclosed to us the wonders of your power and love. Truly, you have risen, O Lord! Let the gospel trumpets speak, and the news as of holy fire, burning and flaming and inextinguishable, run to the ends of the earth. You have risen, O Lord! Let all creation greet the good tidings, with jubilant shout; for its time of release has come, the long night is past, the Savior lives and rides and reigns in triumph now and throughout all ages. Amen.                     ―from Prayers for Sunday Services, p.97