Second Sunday of Easter – Sunday, April 8, 2018

April 8, 2018  

John 20:19-31

When he saw the wounds, when he touched the wounds Thomas believed.

Thomas, traditionally known as “doubting Thomas,” struggled to believe what the other disciples were saying when they told him they had seen Jesus. Everyone saw Jesus die. Everyone knew Jesus was buried, and where. But then, only two days later, Mary was telling folks that the tomb Jesus was buried in was empty. And that she had seen Jesus, alive. That same night Jesus appeared to almost all of the disciples, locked in a room. They saw him. He spoke to them.

Unfortunately, Thomas wasn’t in the locked room with the other disciples. He doubted his friends when they told him they had seen Jesus alive. But then Jesus appeared to them all and Thomas was able to touch the wounds in Jesus’s hands, to touch the wound in Jesus’ side.

Scripture tells us Jesus told Thomas “Reach out your hand and put it in my side…” (John 20:27). Thomas was touching an open wound.

Jesus was alive.

***

This is a place where Jesus meets us. In our wounded-ness.

A resource I was reading on this text said “Today, the power of the resurrection is most realized in the real, deep wounds of Jesus’ own body” (Sundays & Seasons for Easter 2 2018). And it is provocative to consider that, although Jesus was raised from the dead, Jesus still carried his wounds with him.

He carried his wounds on his body… open wounds.

Recently a woman came to church greatly distressed. She was hearing voices. Evil voices. Voices telling her she was condemned, telling her she would not be saved. She had sinned, an awful sin. As she and I spoke she flipped through the bible reading verse after verse, telling me the verses were clear, she would not be saved. Her distress was palpable. I kept telling her Jesus loved her. I told her the bible was clear, she was forgiven and loved. I encouraged her to listen for God’s voice, because God was speaking words of love to her. She began to cry, saying “I try. But I can’t hear God…”

“I can’t hear God.”

We sat in the chapel talking. The bible was on the pew between us. She kept flipping the pages, reading verses that condemned her for her sin. Finally I reached my hand out and I closed the bible gently. I said “This book was not written to be used as a weapon. You are using it to hurt yourself. This is a book of love. God loves you.”

Our eyes locked. I asked her if she was baptized. She said yes. I told her that, when she was baptized her sins were washed away. I told her she could wake up every day knowing her sins were washed away. She was and is forgiven. I repeated over and over, God loves you. You are forgiven. God loves you…

It was evident, her sin left her with a deeply wounded spirit.

God comes to us in our wounded-ness, God comes to us to offer us healing and love.

Whatever your wounds, however deep or superficial, God is there with you, understanding the pain of those wounds. God empathizes. God watched God’s son die, knowing it was necessary in order to save the world.
Of course, God knew Jesus would rise from the dead. Which brings us full circle to the matter of Jesus’ wounds.
When Thomas was able to touch Jesus’ hands, to place his hand IN Jesus’ side, Thomas trusted what the disciples said was true.

When Thomas was able to touch Jesus’ hands, to place his hand IN Jesus’ side, Thomas believed Jesus had risen.

Thomas ceased to doubt.

Thomas had faith in the risen Christ.

We don’t have the privilege of being able to touch the risen Christ, but Jesus has risen and he is here with us. Jesus is here, speaking to as the Word, through the Word, telling us we are loved and forgiven.
Jesus is here, speaking to us through the gift of his body and blood, through bread and wine, telling us his love and forgiveness is for all people.

Jesus is here as we reach out to each other, as we reach out to our community, as we reach out to the world sharing his words of love and grace.

Jesus is here. Jesus is in our hearts. Jesus is on our minds.
Thanks be to God, Christ has risen. He has risen indeed. Alleluia!

Amen.