REACH OUT YOUR HAND
The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in human history. Paul described the implications for life if Jesus did not rise from the dead (1 Cor. 15:19).
Without the resurrection of Jesus, the Christian proclamation and faith of Christians are both in vain.
Without the resurrection of Jesus, followers of Christ are false witnesses, people remain in sin and faith is worthless.
However, evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is impressive, which means believers can confidently believe and share the good news of the resurrection of Jesus.
The majority of appearances of the risen Jesus in the New Testament are scenes of commissioning the disciples to share the message of the resurrection.
Although Mary Magdalene announced the good news — “I have seen the Lord!” — the disciples’ response was to hide in fear of the Jewish leadership that crucified Jesus. Jesus appeared to the disciples and proclaimed, “Peace be with you” — a message the fearful disciples needed.
Then Jesus confirmed for the disciples that they had not seen a ghost. They experienced the person and body of the risen Jesus.
Jesus himself offered the evidence by the wounds he bore, and the disciples responded with joy.
Jesus commissioned the disciples for missions. “As the Father sent Me, so I am sending you.”
Then Jesus breathed on the disciples and commanded them to receive the Spirit.
Jesus empowered the disciples to proclaim a message of forgiveness of sins.
For a reason not explained in the text, Thomas was not present the Sunday night after the resurrection.
Thomas often is referred to as “doubting Thomas,” yet within the fourth Gospel, Thomas is described as a man of deep commitment. He expressed a willingness to die with Jesus when the other disciples were afraid (11:16).
Thomas was absent because of a broken heart and requested the same evidence the other disciples received — to see Jesus for himself.
One week after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples indoors again. The disciples were understandably afraid and locked the doors.
The authorities crucified Jesus as a rebel; therefore, Jesus’ followers were suspect. In light of their fear, Jesus proclaimed a message of peace.
Jesus reclaimed Thomas for kingdom service, commanding him to put his fingers in Jesus’ hand and side.
The Bible never states Thomas touched Jesus even though he was commanded to do so. Thomas was commanded, “Don’t be faithless any longer! Believe!” Thomas responded to Jesus’ challenge with one of the greatest confessions in the New Testament: “My Lord and my God.”
For some reason, a literal translation challenges me.
Thomas responded to Him, “Lord of me and God of me.” Jesus proclaimed a beatitude on individuals who never have seen Jesus and yet believe.
Ancient church traditions present Thomas as a missionary to the East — specifically, as the apostle responsible for the establishment of the church in Parthia, Persia and India.
By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida