Summary: Easter 2 b. The eye-witness testimony of the Apostles is evidence of the reality of Christ's Resurrection. We live confidently that the promise of the resurrection to come is sure, even as the fact of His resurrection is sure.
Easter 2 (B)
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
Alleluia. He is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music is sent to be the governess for the children of Captain Von Trapp. Thinking about what challenges and adventures lie ahead, she sings about confidence: "I have confidence in springtime, I have confidence in fall." In what might be twist on Roosevelt’s pronouncement, “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself,” she declares, “I have confidence in confidence alone!” While Maria may have had confidence in confidence alone, we don’t have faith in our faith. To have faith in one’s faith is an empty faith. We have faith in Christ. Our faith in more than wishful thinking. It is trust and reliance on a real and historical person - Jesus, about a real and historical events – chiefly His death and resurrection. It is trust and reliance on the real promise of a real God about a real future. A future, which although it is yet to come, is just as real as today or yesterday.
The Apostle John makes a pointed effort to convey to us that this Gospel is “proof positive,” that he is an eyewitness to these events, and that his testimony is sure. Remember from the Gospel reading on Good Friday, when John was writing about the death of Jesus, and how the soldier pierced his side, and blood and water flowed out? What did John say? The very next thing he wrote was
The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.
Then he writes how on Easter morning, that after Peter and he had run and seen the empty tomb, that Mary Magdalene saw Jesus and touched him. And when Jesus spoke to her, then she believed. Next she tells the disciples, but they are still afraid. Then Jesus appears to the Ten Disciples in the upper room. (Judas is dead, and Thomas is not there). They see Him and touch Him. He speaks to them and they believe.
Now he writes about the episode with Thomas, and how Thomas is insistent that he will not believe unless he sees Jesus, and touches Him. Why does he insist on touching him? Would not seeing be enough? Remember, the women and the others are saying that the tomb is empty and that they have seen Him in his body. Thomas is making a point that if Jesus’ body is resurrected that he wants to touch this bodily Jesus. Not just some vision of Jesus. Not just a spiritual Jesus. But a real live flesh and blood Jesus.
John continues. The next week Thomas is there. And Jesus appears again. He shows Thomas His hands and His side. And He speaks to Thomas, and Thomas believes. What is John showing us by this account of Christ’s appearance to Thomas? That the risen Christ who appeared to Thomas was the Christ risen in His body, and not just a dream, a vision, or a spirit. Christ had the wounds in the hands and in His side. Thomas saw this Christ. So Thomas is an eye witness to Christ’s bodily resurrection. And the others saw Christ appear to Thomas. So they too are eye witnesses to the bodily resurrection of Christ. Thomas saw the real deal Jesus. And the others saw Thomas see and hear the real deal Jesus. The Apostles – not just Thomas, but all of them – are eyewitnesses, not only to an empty tomb, but to the bodily resurrection of Christ.
The importance of this flesh and blood resurrection cannot be overlooked or understated. If you believe that Jesus was born in the manger, but not that He died to redeem the world, you are not a Christian. If you believe that Jesus was born in manger, and died on the cross, but did not rise again. You are not a Christian. St Paul tells us, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” 1 Cor. 15:14. To believe or to teach that we learn about a resurrection life from Jesus, but that He did not rise, is wrong, pointless, useless. Worse than that, it is harmful. For were it so, it leaves us in our sins. Or to teach that Christ is only spiritually but not physically resurrected, is also wrong, useless, and harmful. Only a true, full, and bodily resurrection will do. That is why John is emphasizing that the Apostles saw Christ in His resurrected body.