Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Voice of Thomas

I was ready to die for him. The last few weeks of his life were hard to understand. We had gone back to that place where John had been baptizing disciples when Mary, Lazarus’ sister sent word that Lazarus was ill. When Mary sent for Jesus, I was ready to go and die for him. But instead Jesus raised Lazarus – and angered the ruling Jews.

I was ready to die for him. Yet when the temple guard came and arrested him, we all scattered like roaches hit with a strong light. We just ran away.

After he died that awful day, we gathered in the upper room and sat in stunned silence. What were we to do? Jesus! Why did you leave us?

We were scared. We went out one at a time to gather news and food. The city was a frightening place to be.

Once when I had gone out, the rest of us had gathered together, but had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus, how do I say this? – They told me later that Jesus came into the room and stood among them, and said, "Peace to you." He showed them his hands and side. I heard that they became excited and jumped up and raced around. Jesus said again “Peace to you.” He them added, “Just as the Father sent me, I now send you.” And then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

When I got back they told me, "We saw the Master." I think all the blood rushed out of my head – I felt like I was going to faint. I didn’t know what to think. I had pinned all my hope on this man – I was ready to die for him. I said, "Until I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won't believe it." And that was that.

Eight days later, we were all together in the room. Jesus came right through the locked doors, stood among us, and said, "Peace to you."

Then he looked at me right in the face and he said, "Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don't be unbelieving. Believe." Me! A Jew! Was he dead or not? Could I touch him?

I held out my hand– I was shaking and I said, "My Master! My God!" And at that moment, I knew! I knew he was God! All my life I had been repeating the Shema --
“Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One….. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand…” What was this he had in his hands, in his flesh? My master and my God! He is God’s Word made flesh!

Then Jesus said, "So, you believe because you've seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing." He is God! It’s not that I was ready to die for him, he was ready to die for me! Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad. The Lord your God is One! Hallelujah!

John 20:19-31 -- Translation used was "The Message" by Eugene Peterson

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