Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Last Sunday on the day of Easter one thing we shy away from actually talking about, is recognizing that by and large none of the disciples believed that Christ had risen – at least they were painfully slow to believe what had taken place.
In one way or another all four of the Gospels express this reality – that even after they saw the resurrected Christ, they were not joyful but terrified, and unbelieving. It’s easy for us to be judgmental of them. We think “of course Jesus is raised from the dead – how could they not be rejoicing and glad – and happy!”
But what about you? If you betrayed your friend, scattered, and denied him, saw him killed by crucifixion, and laid in a grave, how would you respond if you were told he was now alive and was coming to see you?
In today’s Gospel we see the disciples scared straight. It’s eight days after the Resurrection and they are not filled with Easter joy. They are filled with Easter fear and they have all locked themselves in the attic of a house. We’re told they are scared of the Jews, but perhaps they are scared of Christ Himself. Jesus had told them that anyone who denied him before men he would deny before his father in heaven. He had talked about justice and judgment – and what if he was coming back to give the disciples what they truly deserved?
And what if he came back to doll out justice for you. What should we all expect for ourselves?
Because we too have a problem with locking our doors to him. We too have a tendency to reject Christ and not invite him daily into our homes. When is the last time you prayed at home, out loud with your family? When is the last time you honestly sat down with a Bible and read his Word.
Like the disciples, locked in the upper room, we too have a reason to be afraid – our sins convict – we are fair-weather disciples – we are all frauds!
Besides this, the culture is changing. We’re afraid to talk with our children about the truth of God’s gift of marriage - that sexual intimacy is only for God’s gift of marriage and that everything else is simply adultery.
Marriage is for one man and one woman. Not two men, not two women – not three – not four – or any other arrangement. Our common excuse to get off the hook is to say we shouldn’t judge, but frankly yes we should. God’s Word already judges these things and tells us what is right and what is wrong. None of us should be ashamed of the Word of God.
Children deserve mommies and daddies who are committed and pledged to one another with the promise of God. Children don’t need two daddies or two mommies. They need fathers to protect them. They need moms to nurture them. They need dads to love them best by loving their mom and promising to be there – til death do them part because that’s what God tells us, and so we must say ‘Amen.’
But our lips are locked. Doors are sealed and tongues are tied and yet we must speak the truth. Jesus says “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
And no doubt we are entering a time when we are tempted to shy away from God’s Word. I hear that if you are a baker and are asked to bake a cake for a gay wedding, you will be fined, imprisoned, or worse if you refuse. This is the world we are entering and we need to find out voice not lose it.
What we all have in common is a problem with unbelief. The disciples doubt. Thomas doubts. They are afraid of God’s judgment – they are terrified because of their sins. They are also terrified of others and what others will think of them. And they are silent, locked away, and scared.
But Jesus is alive and He’s coming back. But when he appears in that upper room to the scared disciples he doesn’t return like a fire-breathing dragon. He doesn’t burst through the locked doors to bring judgment to Peter’s denials and Thomas’s unbelief, and he doesn’t rise from the dead to condemn you either!
No, He appears to his disciples to show them his pierced hands and feet – his crucified and risen body. He greets them not with fear but with love and kindness. He doesn’t say look what you have done to me but rather look what I have done for you! And yet he doesn’t excuse their sins, he shows them his scars to prove that he has paid for them all.
And those scars – those pierced hands and feet, his pierced side are enough for you. He took all the punishment. There is forgiveness for those who have nearly given up on prayer. There is forgiveness for those who have become more familiar with their tv guides than their Bibles. There is forgiveness for those who are more comfortable in this fallen world than in the kingdom of God. There in the wounds of Jesus is forgiveness for adultery, lying, cheating, and gossip. Like Thomas, you have proof that God has been raised from the dead and He comes to forgive sinners only. He calls you to a whole new life.
Today Christ has Risen too. He breaks through thick walls and locked doors. HE makes his way through bolted, stubborn hearts. He wants entrance into your life. He says Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the age. This is my body and this is my blood. Do not be unbelieving but believe. The same Lord, resurrected from the grave is present this morning with his disciples, even his doubting disciples.
This morning we are thankful for Thomas. He gives a voice to our doubts. Like Thomas we can touch Jesus’ body in the Holy Sacrament. We can drink his blood which forgives us our sins and strengthens our faith. And then our doubts can all wash away. He is risen! Easter fear gives way to Easter joy, and like Thomas, we can look at the crucified and risen Lord, and confess the truth, saying “My Lord and My God.” In the name of Jesus. Amen.