“My Lord and My God!”
I’m not a guy that tends to blurt out anything. It takes a lot to get me to that place and most of the time (over)think before I speak so that I don’t say what I should. Words just don’t come easy most of the time, but when I say something I want it to be meaningful.
Thomas’s encounter with the very-much-alive Jesus caused him to blurt out something meaningful, just a few words that were the overflow response to a change of his heart. The change was deep and the statement, though brief, was rich with significance.
Thomas was, in a moment, different. His hope had emptied when he saw his Friend carried away to his execution, but now a resurrected hope erupted inside of him. Now, Thomas’ faith was deeper than his doubt had been.
The Powerlessness of a Lie
I (Wes) write this from about 30, 000 feet in the air. On the screen on the seat in front of me are all kinds of movies that I could choose from. Tough choices to make but I have 4 hours to decide.
If I wasn’t thinking so much (too much) about how anxious I get when the plane starts to shake, it would be easier to decide which superhero movie I should watch.
Superhero movies are our society’s new myths. Our ancestors told stories of Hercules and Perseus; now we have Superman, Batman, Luke Skywalker, and Wonder Woman. All are inspiring to watch and each makes us want to be heroes like they are. We will pay money in order to watch them be heroic. Too much money, probably.
But there is one thing they will never inspire us to do: worship them. Because we know, as the credits roll, they aren’t real. They are characters played by superpower-less (who may or may not really be heroic) for our entertainment.
Those fictitious characters will never inspire us to love them…or give our lives for them.
If Jesus died and is still dead, then he would be just as impactful as those cape wearing crusaders: inspiring to hear about, but no one to be devoted to. If we consciously or non-consciously believe that the resurrection of Jesus is a myth, then we will always live half-heartedly. We will hear the promises of scripture and trust the God who said them just enough to seem religious, just enough to feel some sort of hope, but not enough to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by him…awed by his life.
An Unwasted Life
Does the resurrection make any difference? The answer, one way or another, is “yes!”
Paul said that if resurrection isn’t real, then Jesus is still dead. That makes sense.
Then Paul goes further and tells the people in Corinth that if Jesus isn’t alive then those who believe are not just wrong, not just foolish, but of all the people in the world the most to be pitied. (see 1 Corinthians 15:19) A follower of Jesus should be pitied because he or she has lived a false hope. A pretty lie, but still a life spent on a lie. If Jesus was not resurrected, then following him wholeheartedly is a waste of life.
But, what if it is true? What if the doubts that we come by honestly and the fears that plague us daily are what is really foolish? Then wouldn’t it follow that it would be foolish not to follow him wholeheartedly? If Jesus is alive does that not also mean that we can have a new kind of life too…his very life?
The next question that lingers: Is this resurrection story true?
My purpose here is not to try to make a cumulative and comprehensive case for the historical reliability of the resurrection of Jesus. That has been done and been done much more humbly and eloquently than I could do. (see here, here, and here)
This is merely about one man being changed…and pointing towards millions of people who have had a similar (though probably simpler) encounter with our living Lord with the result being that their lives have been changed. The stories of former Thomas’s testify that something dramatic and beautiful has happened to them.
If the resurrection of Jesus isn’t true, then find inspiration in the story like you would if you were watching hero on the screen: enjoy it for what it is, but find something that is really worth spending you life on. It would be foolish to worship a dead man.
If the resurrection of Jesus is true, then let Jesus do for you what he did for Thomas. Let him awaken your hope. Let him command your affections. Allow him to overwhelm you with his love and his aliveness.
And cry out with Thomas’s joy: “My Lord and my God!”
If you will excuse me, I think I decided what I am going to watch. “Wonder Woman” looks worth spending the next 2 hours on.