‘Every eye will see him’ (Revelation 1:7)
The Second Sunday of Easter always features the apostle Thomas. Easter Day, on which the resurrection of Jesus is proclaimed with especial fervor, is followed directly by the Sunday on which the followers of Jesus are exhorted to believe that he is risen. Thomas has a special place in this exhortation, but not just because he refused to believe. None of the disciples believed that Jesus was raised until they had seen him.
When three women proclaimed to the 11 and others that they had seen the Lord risen (Luke 24:9), those who heard them considered their words to be “an idle tale, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11). Yet it wasn’t as if there had been no preparation. Jesus had predicted on several occasions that he would be killed in Jerusalem but would be raised on the third day. The messengers who spoke to the women at the tomb said, “Remember how he told you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must . . . on the third day rise” (Luke 24:6-7). The proclamation of the resurrection was not new. Jesus himself upbraided the two disciples on the road to Emmaus with the words, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe … ” (Luke 24:25). To the group back in Jerusalem, he said, “Why . . . do doubts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38).
The only exception to the otherwise uniform failure to believe is the enigmatic statement in John when the unnamed disciple (presumably John) and Peter ran to the tomb after the women had told them that it was empty, and the unnamed disciple “went in, and he saw and believed.” What he believed, however, is unclear, for the very next line adds, “for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:8-9).
What is it, then, that marks Thomas out from the rest of the company? At least two things: first, where the others were “slow of heart ,” Thomas’ resistance was hardened, and he demanded proof. Second, he was the last to believe, which means he had something that the others hadn’t — namely a believing community. And it is abundantly clear that a believing community made up of profoundly changed people is the method by which God expects people to believe that Jesus is risen. There have been over 2 billion Christians since the days of the apostles, and of these only a little more than 500 saw Jesus risen.
Look It Up
Examine Paul’s public testimony that Jesus’ resurrection is fully in accordance with the revelation of God to the Jews, and is therefore not surprising. See Acts 26:6-8.
Think About It
The time will come when “every eye will see [Jesus], even those who pierced him.” What will be the circumstance when that happens?