The Hope of Easter
‘Christ is risen!’
‘He is risen indeed!’
That ringing Easter acclamation echoes round our churches each Sunday of the Easter season every year and it still brings the same joy, excitement and wonder that seized the very first disciples.
As it turned out, that first Easter Day was to be for the early disciples the most memorable day of their lives. Soon after daybreak they heard that the tomb was empty; they heard that Jesus had already appeared to Mary Magdalene. The message of the resurrection sends Mary Magdalene running from the empty tomb in amazement, it brings peace to the apostles cowering behind locked doors, it drives Thomas to his knees uttering the words ‘My Lord and my God!’
Thomas has gone down in history as the doubter; the one who would not believe what the others told him; the realist, the pragmatist, who wanted proof for himself. And he maintains this attitude for a whole week. A week! A week is a long time – in religion as well as in politics.
Thomas goes from one end of the spectrum to the other. Thomas the doubter becomes Thomas the believer. The final irony is that the disciple who doubted the most, is the one who believes the most. “My Lord, and my God” is the deepest statement of belief in any of the gospels.
The event of the resurrection of Jesus is totally beyond our powers of explanation through which God speaks to us. Whatever happened at the tomb on that first Easter morning means that life will triumph over death, and that hope is the true posture of the human spirit.
The resurrection of Jesus is the greatest life-giving and life-enhancing sign of all, and Easter is a message of life, of the ultimate triumph of God’s loving purposes which gives us the key to the meaning of life, the universe and everything.
If, as the high of Easter fades from our minds, we begin to wonder about the reality, the veracity, of it all, If, you sometimes find it hard to believe the events of the first Easter, if you ever have moments of doubt – take heart from Thomas.
What Jesus said to Thomas – and what he says to us as well – is that it is ok to have doubts. That doubts are, in a sense, part of the process of coming to faith.
The prayer “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief”, is the prayer of many Thomases.
May we all have minds open to the possibility that Easter was no ancient legend of someone being brought to life again, but the supreme miracle in which, as C S Lewis put it, ‘God leaned against the flywheel of history and reversed its direction’.
With love and prayers