John 20:25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "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."
What is Easter? The answer depends largely on your frame of reference. For example, if we look at Easter according to the first article of the creed – we look at Easter as part of Gods work or preservation, and we may focus on the promise of everlasting life. If we look at Easter according to the second article, we may focus on what Christ’s resurrection proves –
But today I would like to consider the resurrection in light of the 3rd article. And here is where we need to begin – "I believe that I cannot, by my own reason or strength, believe in my Lord Jesus Christ, or come to Him."
The reason we begin here, is because this is so much the untold story of Easter. Our gospel lesson today brings to our attention the story of Thomas – and the lesson often learned from this text is the very simple – don’t be a doubting Thomas. The problem is that it doesn’t help people with doubts, to tell them, Don’t doubt – in fact, it might be, that the only thing that saying, Don’t be a doubting Thomas does, is to increase the doubt (and subsequent guilt).
You see, Thomas, and his doubt, were not exceptional, they were the rule. And it was the rule, because, just like it is today – people want to be able to believe by our own reason and strength – often this means that they simply don’t believe anything unless it is reasonable to them – that is, unless their minds can grasp it, and hold it as true.
The problem is that our minds are finite, they can only hold so much, we can only understand so much – and God is infinite – if we can believe in God by our own reason and strength – then the God we believe in is much too small. But its time now to return to Easter, where we can see God at work, and how it is God who brings the faith in the resurrection.
For example, when the women go to the tomb, the story closes in Mark with the words – "and they said nothing to anyone because they were afraid." This is not a great sign of faith, but God works in their lives, they don’t remain afraid forever, otherwise we would never know their story. And while the disciples look strong – we must remember that, even after the first Easter appearances, they are still hiding – they are locked in the upper room, for fear of the Jews – but again, they don’t remain afraid, or locked in the room forever – why? Because Jesus comes to them, and the word works faith in their hearts so that they believe.
It doesn’t happen over night, they don’t all of a sudden become bold, for faith grows – what starts as a seed, does not reach full measure over night. You see, Thomas is a lot like us, for Thomas seeing was believing – and while this is not God’s plan, for God sends his word to work faith – so that the scripture – "blessed are they who have not seen, but believe" becomes very important. But its not a law. You see, blessed is not something we do (by our reason or strength) anymore than faith is something we do – in both cases it is God at work in our lives.
And that is what is important – God at work in our lives. Just as God does not leave Thomas doubting, but comes to him and shows him what he needs to see – so also God works with us, to create faith – to build faith, and to strengthen weak faith. Easter is thus a story of the grace of God poured out richly, overcoming all obstacles, and working faith unto eternal life in each one of us. What God does for Thomas, is the measure of God’s love for each one of us – and he will richly provide for all our needs, just as he works faith in all our hearts – for Jesus sake.