The disciples watched Jesus die on Friday afternoon on the cross. They lost their leader, teacher, rabbi, mentor, and most of all, their friend. Losing someone you care about is an emotional pain that brings tears and breaks the spirit. Their hope was gone.
On the road to Emmaus, one of Jesus’ followers says, “We had hoped he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Then they add an interesting statement, “And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.” (Luke 24:21 – NIV 2011) After Jesus’ death, the disciples watched the clock. Friday passed and nothing. Then Saturday and now it is Sunday. There is a story of an empty tomb from the ladies, but who can believe them?
Then Jesus reveals himself to those two believers, and they run back to Jerusalem. That Sunday night, Jesus appears to what should have been twelve disciples. Judas went out and hung himself in shame, and Thomas is not present either. Jesus stands in their midst, shows him the scars, and offers them a hope they have never known. They are given the possibility of life after death and eternity with their savior and friend. Their lives were changed, and so was the face of religion forever.
I have often thought of Thomas. Where was he that night? Was he off sulking in the pain of loss? Had he given up on this Jesus thing and headed home like the two on the road to Emmaus? Was he just busy with life? I mean, Jesus is gone, and there are still bills to pay and meals to prepare. Life goes on even in the face of loss.
Jesus will not reveal himself to his disciples again until the next Sunday. The story now focuses on Thomas and his declaration that he will not believe Jesus is alive unless he can touch the scars himself.
I wonder, “How did Thomas live in the ten days from Jesus’ death to seeing him alive?” What did he think? What did he feel? Was he just filled with the uncertainty that accompanies human loss? After all, we want hope, heaven and resurrection sound excellent, but is it too great to believe?
Death pushes us to the very core of our emotional and spiritual lives. What do we really believe? Are we willing to cling to the hope of eternal life during a devasting loss? I think Thomas must have felt those ten days like all of us do when we lose someone about which we care We grab ahold of the stories of Jesus being raised from the dead with all of our heart, and we cannot wait until the day we can see him with our own eyes.