Hallelujah Christ is Risen, The Lord has risen indeed.
Wow, what a story. But the story doesn’t end with the empty tomb. It really is only the beginning.
You see, It’s all about Just Believing....
In our Gospel today, we find the Disciples gathered behind a locked door. They were scared. Scared of the Jews. If they could murder and crucify their Lord, what was going to stop them from killing each one of the disciples? Now the natural tendency would have been for them to run away and scatter so they couldn’t be found, but they were gathered together, because that is what Christ had told them to do. They Believed in him and his words and promises.
I’m sure they couldn’t yet comprehend the ramifications of the Resurrection, and what their journeys would mean to Christianity, but they knew Christ had told them to stick together, to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to keep the faith alive.
So there they were. Huddled and whispering behind the safety of the locked door, trying to figure out what was going to happen next. Now this is said to be in the same room, in the upstairs of a safe house, where the twelve and friends had shared the Last Supper with their Lord and friend, the first communion the night before Jesus was crucified.
All of a sudden, Jesus materialized. I’m sure they were shocked. Was this a hallucination? Was this a ghost? Seeing their fear, Christ walks into the center of them and said, “Peace Be With You”.
The instant they heard him speak, they realized it was their Lord and teacher.
Now there is an important, simple sentence in our Gospel that details what their future journey will be, and for that matter, our journey as a Christian.
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
What does this mean? And how does this impact my life as a Christian?
As we all know, God sent Jesus to live as a human being, so that he, God, could feel the emotions of a Human Being...the good, the bad and the ugly.
God also sent Christ as the ultimate sacrifice to die on the cross so that our sins would be washed away through the resurrection.
So What was Christ saying?
He was telling the Disciples, his chosen twelve, his close dear friends, to take up the cross, and share the lessons that Christ taught during his life.
Sounds like an easy task, but it was going to be anything but easy.
After Christ commissioned his disciples to this task, he breathes on them, and the Holy Spirit fills them. He says, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven”
Now up until this point, Christ was the only one of this bunch who had been filled with the Holy Spirit, and now, they all were filled.
I’ve always been taught that the Holy Spirit is the warrior of the Holy Trinity. The Protector, the one who whips things into place.
So with this infilling of the Holy Spirit, the Disciples now had all the tools they needed to fulfill Christ’s directives to them. They had the Word to teach and the protection to go forth into the world to share it.
So, one of the twelve was not present when Jesus made his first appearance to them. Thomas wasn’t there. This is often called the Doubting Thomas Gospel. Once Thomas returned to the room, his friends told him what had happened, and Thomas says he didn’t believe it. He needed to see the wounds on Jesus’ hands in order for him to believe.
Then about a week later, Jesus once again joins his friends in the upper room. This time Thomas is there.
Jesus once again says “Peace be with You” as he appeared and immediately tells Thomas to touch his hands to prove that it truly was Jesus. He instructs Thomas to not doubt but believe.
Thomas knows beyond a doubt that this truly is Jesus Christ.
Christ continues to say, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” We must Believe, sight unseen.
Such a moving moment for the Twelve, but also for us.
We recognize that Jesus was a real person. The history is written and documented. We know that he lived, and that he was crucified.
But the rest of the story that we believe is based on faith. Is the resurrection real? Did he really die and rise from the dead three days later?
Did he really appear to his disciples?
Well that is the basis of our religion isn’t it?
One cannot be a Christian without accepting these as facts. Many people will view this simply as a nice story of hope and forgiveness. But the resurrection is the exact moment Christianity was born. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of our Sins by God, there is no Christianity. This is the anniversary of our re-birth.
So, where does that leave us?
It leaves us with a huge job.
We must be witnesses of the Good News of Jesus Christ. We can do this in many ways in our lives. How we live. What we say. How we treat others. How we defend others. How we forgive each other. How we try to walk in the footsteps of Christ.
It also leaves us with a duty to share what we know about the Gospel of Jesus. It doesn’t say we need to stand on a box in the middle of town and shout the Gospel as John the Baptist did, but it does mean, that when the moments are right, that we carefully and intentionally share the Gospel.
But the ultimate task we are given to do is to Believe. To have faith.
We must be Believe that Jesus lived. He was tempted as a human. He healed the sick. He taught, he forgave, he didn’t judge others. He suffered physical and mental anguish as a Human Being. He died a horrid and painful death. And He rose again to forgive every human being’s sins without question.
We need to believe without question and without hesitation. We need to Believe without seeing. We need trust in the faith that God loves us, shed his blood for us, gave us his Holy Spirit to guide and protect us, Forgives us our sins and that he will always be with us.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.