Today’s Author: Carol Swanson

Mary Magdalene announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” (20:18) Was Thomas there when she said that?  Did he go out looking for Jesus?  Is that why he wasn’t with the others later that evening when Jesus appeared again?  “We have seen the Lord,” they told him. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe,” Thomas replied. What was he thinking, feeling, when he said this?  

The Gospel of John is all about intimate relationships.  And these appearance stories underscore that. In the garden, Mary recognized Jesus’ voice when he said her name. He told Mary to find his “brothers” and to tell them that he was going “to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” —I can’t help but think of the similar words Ruth spoke to Naomi: “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)— Later, Jesus appeared to the disciples. “As the Father has sent me, I send you,” he said, and he breathed the Spirit into them. 

So how did Thomas (who had followed Jesus just as faithfully) feel when he heard the others? Left out? In despair? Lost? Forsaken?  And he had a whole week to think about it. Were his friends supportive? Did they together recall Jesus saying no one would be lost or orphaned? (John 6:39; 10:28; 14:17; 17:12; 18:9)

And then it happened. Jesus appeared again “although the doors were shut” and said to all of them, “Peace be with you.” Then he turned to Thomas. He had come for his sake, to offer him his wounds. Thomas could only confess, “My Lord and my God!”  

I imagine Jesus looking at him with deep love. “Have you [and Mary and the other disciples] believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”  Again, Jesus looks beyond that place and time to include us, who have been given the Gospel of John “so that [we] may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing [we] may have life in his name.” (20:31)

One more “noticing” to ponder. This gospel writer tells these stories of the risen Jesus appearing to his followers, but he never says that he disappears and never describes the scene of his ascending.  What might that mean? Is he telling us that Jesus is still present with us? 

Gracious Father, may we experience your presence in new and exciting ways. May we be the face of Jesus to one another and to the world.  Amen

Mid-week devotions are authored by members of our community.  If you are interested in creating a trio of reflections to be shared on an upcoming Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, contact Pastor Peter.