“So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the lord!” But he [Thomas] said to them, “Unless I see…I will not believe.” (John 21: 25)
Easter poses a challenge to all Christians who believe in it. How do we intelligibly talk about Jesus’ resurrection to our friends and colleagues? Will the postmodern mind ever accept this fact, or will they dismiss it just as a fiction or myth? Clearly, Thomas did not believe when he was told by other disciples, that they had seen Jesus. If Jesus’ ten disciples could not convince one of their own, how can we convince anyone at all?
It is definitely something that we should all consider looking into. But how do we go about it?
One can find the answer to this in the event narrated a couple of passages after the transpiring of the above incident. Here, Peter was preaching to a crowd of Jews who were at Jerusalem for a festival. In his preaching he said that “God raised him [Jesus] from the dead…because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2: 24). Most of the people must have not seen Jesus or hear him preach as they are from far away country. It is certainly possible that they have heard about his fame or at least heard about the events of the cross, which had happened few days back. When they heard Peter preach, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2: 37).
If we were to talk about the resurrection of Jesus, surely a debate will follow on whether the phenomenon of resurrection is possible at all, or how religion is deceiving people with myths, and so on. But here we see that they simply accept the message. Note that this is the same message which Thomas refused to believe.
Did these Jews have something different that Thomas did not have?
No! But there was a change in the personality of the preacher.
Peter and the other apostles are the same lot of people in both the events. In the first event, they saw a resurrected Christ but did not have the HOPE OF RESURRECTION in their hearts. That is why when Jesus revisited them seven days later, they were still locked up in their rooms – scared and afraid of the authorities. This could surely have been the reason for Thomas’ preference to see Jesus in person and verify this piece of information by himself.
But on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down and indwelled with the disciples, the hope of resurrection was revived and was evident in their personalities. They became bold and they exhibited the life of resurrection. This incident made the people present, to see the truth in their message and accept it.
Today, winning a debate about resurrection would not make others Jesus’ disciples; but a life filled with hope in midst of trials and suffering, will speak the gospel more purposefully and loudly. So the question that remains for all of us is, do people see the living HOPE in you through your life?
The early church grew more in hope and faith during times of persecution. The early Christians displayed their hope in the resurrection in their sufferings even till the point of death. Many accepted Christ because of this steadfast witnessing.
Will our daily life remain consistent with this belief? We are called to live a life of hope and trust in the providence of our heavenly father as we work through the challenges in our lives. When we do that, we will be the “Light of the world” (Matt. 5: 14); and by seeing our joy in midst of suffering, many will ask for ‘the reason for the hope” we have (1 Peter 3: 15).