Early in the morning Mary Magdalene learned that the body of Jesus, which had been place in a tomb, was missing. It was assumed someone had stolen the body. Sadness deepened to greater grief because now they had no way to give Jesus a proper burial.
But then… surprise! Jesus, very much alive, appeared to Mary. He came back to life just as he said he would. She ran and told the others Jesus was alive. Skepticism was rampant, I'm sure. What she "saw and heard" was more than likely dismissed as the wishful delusions of a grief-stricken woman.
Later that evening, the disciples were in the upper room with the windows and doors locked. Suddenly Jesus stood among them. Can you imagine the utter shock that ran through them? Their friend, teacher, and Lord had been killed. And now he stood before them very much alive – just as Mary had said.
They saw for themselves that Jesus had come back to life, just as he said he would. And they were ecstatic! They then knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was who he said he was – the Son of God, the Messiah. What joy! They saw and believed.
Thomas had not been there when Jesus appeared, and did not believe the others when they told him Jesus appeared to them. He said, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."
How like so many people today. Proof is demanded. They want to see with their own eyes because "Seeing is believing."
No, we cannot always trust what we see. Computer programs allow modifications of photos to the point where photos are rarely allowed as evidence in courts of law. There are those who are very good at slight-of-hand manipulations causing us to see something that isn't there. Misinformation on social media is rampant.
Thomas the doubter wanted proof. In this instance, Jesus gave it to him. When Jesus appeared to his disciples again, he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
And there it is. Today there is no physical proof of our Lord's resurrection from the dead. We have to take the word of those who were there that did have the proof. We have to take the word of our Lord. We need to trust the stirring of God's Holy Spirit within us.
Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven to rule the world. He is still the friend of sinners.
Blessed are we who have not seen and yet have come to believe!
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.