These are prophetic words recorded 700 years before Christ fulfilled the prophetic expectation of God’s presence coming down among us to reclaim us, redeem us, and restore us (Isaiah 53: 1-12). The apostles didn’t even believe it, and they were taught by Christ for three years, seen miracles upon miracles, including the raising of Lazarus from the tomb. Jesus told them to expect this prophetic act to take place (‘this is what is written about me’ – Luke 24:44). Only after the risen Christ presented himself for their inspection, breaking bread and eating with them, even telling Thomas to put his finger into the wound where the nail was placed, did they eventually and reluctantly believe.
Upon seeing the risen Saviour, only then Thomas exclaimed: “my Lord and my God.” To this Jesus replied that the blessing is with those who have not seen, yet believe (John 20:29). But what is belief?
Is it, like I shared on Good Friday, being a consumer of faith products? – Christ came to save me from my sin and guilt (I’ll have that one and add it to my shopping cart); Christ came to bless and make me happy (another good one, into my shopping cart it goes); Christ came to open heaven’s door and give me eternal life (yes, that one as well)? But what about: Christ came to give himself and incorporate us into his body and being … that all who believe in him (therefore have a personal relationship, expressed in active worship, in regular service, and ongoing discipleship) have been made part of the family of God, joined together as one?
I guess we have more in common with Thomas in his doubts than we thought, and with Judas, in our subtle imposition on God as to what he should be doing and how it should be done. We are not the only ones who in our modern day practice of the ‘cut & paste’ art in making up our own version of religion to make us feel comfortable and cosy. Do you really think it was for that, that Christ came to die on the cross and rise from the grave? Think about it!
At the Holy Communion Table we are reminded ‘do this in remembrance of me.’ We remember Christ’s sacrifice in his body and blood, to transform us into a holy people, forgiven, and commissioned to live and spread the Good News of our New Creation. We are not saved to ‘go back to Egypt – the place of our slavery’ (remember the Exodus story), but are freed to become God’s new people. We remember that our freedom has come at a great cost, the Creator God coming among us to restore us to his new creation in Christ alone. All we as humanity have contributed to the cross and the nails to crucify Christ. If you don’t believe me, read 1.Peter 2:24 … “he bore our sins, that we might die to our sins.” Not, he took on our sins, so we can embellish our sins with selfishness.
So when we proclaim this morning: ‘Christ is Risen!’, we are saying that Christ is with us every day, and every day I’m learning to become more like him, growing in maturity and into the full stature of Christ – which is God’s plan for us on the other side of the cross and the empty tomb (Eph 4:13). Now that is true Christianity.
Rev. Dirk Willner