Looking Forward to Sunday: A Rip in the Seams

Rev. Daniel Eggold

Apr 15, 2020

Readings:

Acts 5:29-42; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590–1656)

Rather than saddling him with a disgraced reputation and besmirching his character by dubbing him “the great doubter,” would it not be nearer the truth to reconsider and rightly recognize Thomas as a “most sincere believer”?

    It was an easy and unsurprising move for Jesus’ disciples to seize upon the idea that following their Nazarene teacher would make them great. After all, nothing andno one seemed able to put a stranglehold on his triumphs: not hunger, disease,or storm; neither demons not priests. He was God-sent, God-empowered,God-blessed.    

    But there was a rip in the seams that held all the pieces of those disciples’ gathered hopes together: Jesus’ unstoppable talk of least and last, served and suffering,freeing and forgiving, dying and departing.

    So, when their imagination of who God is and how God acts failed them; when priests and courts condemned and soldiers killed their would-be king, Jesus; when Joseph and Nicodemus wrapped his body and buried his corpse, and Mary Magdalene’s unimaginable announcement, “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18), left them doubtful and frightened—they locked their doors. The Lord they imagined—the way of God they had hoped for—was dead.

    If Jesus’miraculous entry somehow through closed and bolted doors and his spoken word first revived the doubting disciples’ faith, it happened differently for Thomas, who was not with them. The disciples reported to him what had happened,choosing the same words spoken by Mary Magdalene that, just days before, had left them doubtful: “We have seen the Lord” (John 20:25). Courageously honest,inviting pious disrepute through the ages, Thomas dared to say that he believed Jesus’ own predictive words about serving and suffering, dying and departing.Thomas trusted that the Christ would bear the marks, embody the scars, and retain the wounds of an unimaginable God. A week later, on seeing the risen Lord, Thomas’s belief was confirmed. In sincere faith indeed he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

Prayer

Almighty and eternal God, the strength of those who believe and the hope of those who doubt, may we, who have not seen, have faith in you and receive the fullness of Christ’s blessing, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.