April Fools Day
It made me laugh a little when I realized that Resurrection Sunday fell this year on April Fool's Day. Though many around me recognized the day as some sort of religious holiday, most people were more excited about what Google would do this year (see here) than the significance of Jesus resurrection.
Though our friends wouldn't just come out and say it, they would think we are a little foolish for believing it. Many think that it is okay for us to believe that as long as we don't push it on them or be "extreme" about it.
"Positive Illusions" and A Life Too Terrible to Face
Somewhere they have the belief that Jordan B. Peterson writes about in his book "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos" when he says that there has been a whole generation of social psychologists who recommend "positive illusions" as the only reliable route to mental health. (see page 87) He makes it a little more clear when he says that some believe that "things are so terrible that only delusion can save you."
For some of our friends (and maybe some of us) belief that Jesus was resurrected from the dead could be a sweet story that brings weak souls hope or a metaphor that one could find some sort of meaning of life in.
But, to many, the resurrection of Jesus is merely a story. A myth that is not true. A fiction that gives (false) courage to deal with the harshness of (a very real) reality.
We all need something to find hope in, right, but to say that Jesus' resurrection is true?! That would be foolish to many. From my own experience I know that I often at least live as if the resurrection isn't real, even if my mouth proclaims that Jesus is fully alive.
I. Will. NOT. Believe.
Thomas had left all to follow Jesus. He walked with Jesus as long as others and seen Jesus do the very same miracles the others did. When the blind were healed, Thomas saw it. When 5,000 men (plus women and children not counted) were feed with food left over, Thomas ate of the same bread and fish. When Jesus talked about going near Jerusalem and that going near would ultimately lead to his death, normally quiet Thomas said "If you die, I'll die with you!" (see John 11:16)
But, he didn't die with Jesus. Jesus died alone. And Thomas saw it.
We don't want to be called fools, and more than that, we don't want to feel foolish. Thomas had placed all his hope, based the remainder of his life on the Rabbi he followed. He was "all in." When Jesus was taken, tortured, and sentenced to death, all that Thomas lived for was up ended.
Thomas' hope died along with Jesus. And nothing short of a miracle could resurrect his hope. So when his friends came to him and told him they had seen Jesus, we can be understanding towards Thomas' response:
John 20:25: So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
"I will never believe! I was fooled once. I gave him my all once. I will not be fooled again."
I Am Thomas. And I Know I Am Not Alone.
We won't be fooled either. We can safely hide behind philosophies that "prove" to us that resurrection cannot happen in nature. We can preach the "good news" of common sense that these things just don't happen. We can recite creeds and hear good sermons about Jesus' coming-back-from-a-real-deadness, but never live as if the same power that resurrected him is available to his people. (see Ephesians 1:19-20)
I don't want to be a fool. No one does. I am Thomas. We are Thomas.
But that is not the end of Thomas' story...nor ours.