Seeing it all

Thomas thought he had seen it all.  From the first day he had accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow, Thomas had seen Jesus reach out to the outcasts, heal the sick, feed the hungry, and give hope to the hopeless.

Thomas thought he had seen it all as he saw Jesus crucified along with Thomas’ hopes.  Perhaps that is the reason Thomas had such a difficult time believing the other disciples when they told him about being gathered behind closed doors, having the living Jesus be with  them, and hearing the risen Jesus tell them the following message that is found in John 20:19, “Peace be with you.”

The sight of the risen Christ was a possibility that was more powerful than Thomas could comprehend, so Thomas told his fellow disciples, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”  Thomas could not believe in the presence of the risen Christ because Thomas thought he had seen it all.  His understanding of faith was based on the concept of “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  Standing in this reality, Thomas could not see the hope of resurrected life being offered to him through the risen Christ.

Ken Callahan, in his book, Building for Effective Mission, writes about the hope of resurrected life that was being offered to Thomas.

We have this confidence:  God goes before us, leading us toward the future which God is preparing for us.  God gives us hope and strength for the mission.  We have this assurance.  We are the Easter people, the people of hope.”
(pp. 22-23)

To Thomas’ credit, he was with the other disciples on the Sunday after Easter when Jesus stood among them.  To Thomas’ credit, he accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow him into the resurrected possibilities of life that God was offering through the risen Christ.  To Thomas’ credit, he confessed Jesus as his Lord and his God.  To Thomas’ credit, he lived in the possibilities of life that is offered to all Easter people as he changed the focus of his faith from “I’ll believe it when I see it” to “I’ll see it when I believe it.”

It was on the Sunday after Easter that Thomas became an Easter person.  Seeing the risen Lord, Thomas began to live in the hope of the risen Christ.  This is the hope being offered to all Easter people as we live in the blessing of our risen Lord who told Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”  Fellow Easter people, this is the hope of life that is seen through Jesus.

Psychiatrist Robert Coles told the story of a little girl named Ruby whom he met during the early days of desegregation.  Coles became intrigued by the 7-year-old who had to be escorted to school by federal marshals.  She would get out of her car and be met by jeering mobs who spewed hatred and shouted racial epithets at a 7-year-old child.  Each day, the scene was repeated and each day Ruby would pause as she got off the car, bow her head for a moment, then walk into the school staring straight ahead.  Coles got to know Ruby’s family and finally felt comfortable enough to ask Ruby why she always paused before she went into class.  She said, “I’m saying a little prayer.  I’m saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’”
Marilyn Berlin Snell, “Interview With Elshtain:  Turn Down the Volume,” Utne Reader
95 (November-December 1995), 71.

Just when we think we have seen it all, the crucified and resurrected Christ offers a different vision of life.  Even though we may find ourselves behind closed doors because of COVID-19, our faith is in the risen Christ of John 20:19 who stands in our midst today and says, “Peace be with you.”

Friends, we are an Easter people.  We believe in a risen Savior who helps us to see it all.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Seeing It All
by Pastor Marc Brown
April 24, 2022

Accompanying Scriptures: John 20:19-31

Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for April 24, 2021

Scripture Lesson       John 20:19-31

The Good News          “Seeing It All

Music                               “That Easter Day With Joy Was Bright”



Closing Music        “Jesus Paid It All” by Carly Rawlings

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