In John’s Gospel, Chapter 20, we read about Thomas, and many of us would be like Thomas – we need to see for ourselves. Keep in mind that the other disciples were still afraid, and hiding behind closed doors, even thought Mary had told them that she had seen our Lord. Consequently, to what extent did they believe, and understand the significance of, what Mary had told them?
John’s description of Jesus appearances to his disciples (after His resurrection) is a beautiful piece of Scripture, that touches upon our deepest feelings (John 20:14-28, NLT); especially, at this time, as we approach Easter: “She (Mary Magdalene) turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
“Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message. That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
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.” … “
We, who follow Jesus, still believe in the power of Jesus’ resurrection – and that He has freed us from the tyranny of sin and death; without seeing Him, we can cry out – ‘My Lord and my God’. (Yet, there are some who have had a personal encounter with the majesty of the risen Christ.)
The other important point, that we can take from the above verses, is this: ‘As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.’ And the ‘you’ refers to yourself, we are all sent to proclaim Jesus to this world – none of us are excluded; everyone has an opportunity to reflect the light of Jesus from the top of the hill upon which we find ourselves.
The hill we stand on, from which Christ’s light shines – might be within our home, to be seen by our family and friends. It could be within our community, our village or town or city; or, at the place where we work, or conduct a business. It might be at a school or university; or at any other place where we interact with people. You are never too busy or too remote from others – to be sent by Jesus, to someone! To tell them the good news of Jesus’ love for them.
You, may have noticed that I’ve not said much about Selwyn’s study. 🙂
Well, for a number of reasons; first off, I don’t think God needed ‘a reminder of the fact that He had hung upon a cross’. In addition, when we read Paul’s letters, being in prison may have been a mystery to him, I don’t really know – yet, some of his writings seem to suggest that he accepted suffering as being part of his ministry. Consequently, I have some degree of difficulty with the detail of Selwyn’s conclusion but agree with his overall theme.