The Resurrection of Jesus Christ for the Christian Church is the most important event of the year. What happened at that first Easter is a life and death changing event. In fact the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is what the whole concept of the Christian Church hinges on, and as St Paul himself said, ‘If what happened at the Resurrection is not true, then we as believers are to be pitied most of all!’ But of course, many of us along with billions of others today and throughout the centuries have found this astounding act to be true.
A few years ago, the Reverend Michael Green wrote a book called Man Alive, which focuses on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, he said this –‘During my life time I had believed in the resurrection in a sort of second hand way, but in practice it really meant nothing to me. Then through talking at length to a friend, I discovered that Jesus Christ is alive, and I could come to know Him personally. So hesitantly at first, I put my life in His hands as best I knew how, and I have proved the reality of His presence ever since. In fact it gradually became the greatest certainty of my whole life’.
In St John’s gospel we are told that shortly after His resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples, and anticipating their reaction of disbelief, he straight away shows them the marks made by the nails on the cross and also his side which was pierced by a spear. Of course they are all overjoyed to see Him, unfortunately one of the twelve disciples who was called Thomas, was not there, so it is left to the disciples to relay the fact that they have seen the Risen Lord and what is Thomas’s reaction? He just does not believe them! A week later all the disciples are together again, and this time Thomas is with them, and Jesus speaks directly to Thomas, He not only shows him the scars of the crucifixion, but allows Thomas to actually touch them, with the words “Be unbelieving no longer, but believe”. Thomas replies “My Lord and my God!” The record of Thomas’ disbelief is one that I am sure many people today can recognise with, and it is only when he actually see’s and touches Jesus that he truly believes.
Today we are not as fortunate as Thomas, we need faith to believe. St Paul said “Faith gives substance to our hopes and convinces us of realities we do not see”. Jesus of course knew that for the people of future generations, belief in Him might prove difficult; So He left these words with Thomas, words that can be a source of encouragement for us today. He said “Because you have seen me you have found faith. Happy are they who find faith without seeing me.”
Keith Lewis (Lay Reader)