2022-04-24 Easter 2
Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Conspiracy theories! Our society is ripe with them! The dictionary defines a conspiracy theory as “a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.” That is to say, an elite group of a few control and manipulate a situation for usually insidious means and gain! Take for instance the moon landing. Some conspiracy theorists have speculated that the moon landing was a giant fraud, shot in a Hollywood movie set. They say it was staged because the US desperately needed the glory and refused to lose the space race to the Soviet Russians! Oooooh, those Russians! Or what about Roswell, New Mexico on July 8, 1947. The headlines of the local paper said “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region.” And rumours that bodies were recovered from the crash site caused many to believe that the US government was hiding the truth of aliens from the public. Later the official story was released that it was just a crashed weather balloon and that the bodies recovered were actually just test dummies. Yet the government security around Area 51 is still enough to convince many that the government is hiding something from the populace! So down the rabbit hole you go, digging and researching and pretty soon, you’re a bonafide conspiracy analyst!
Whether it be aliens or the moon landing, JFK’s assassination or the World Economic Forum, 9/11 to Princess Diana’s death, the purposeful sinking of the Titanic to Covid19, you name it and there are no shortages of conspiracy theories. Some even believe that the earth is flat, as there are no actual raw photos of the earth that haven’t been highly edited and compiled with computer software. And then there’s the horizon that always appears flat, even when viewed from an airplane window, thousands of miles above the earth’s surface! I think it was Mr. Spock from Star Trek who said “Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth!”
But what happens when the impossible can’t be eliminated from the equation? What happens when the impossible is truth? Well, then we end up with Easter! Jesus Christ the Lamb of God dies on the cross for the sins of the world and yet rises to life again on the third day. The eye witnesses saw it. They testified to the truth of this impossible claim and, they chose to die themselves rather than to deny it! “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (MT 19:26).
Thomas the doubting disciple forgot this verse from Matthew’s Gospel. As we know, Tommy Boy doubted the disciples words that Jesus could be raised from the dead and that they had seen him. That Sunday night Jesus came and stood in the midst of the disciples. “Peace be with you!” He said. Shalom in the home. He then showed them His hands and side. This was the forensic proof that the crucified Messiah was there, before them, in the flesh. The marks where the nails and spear had been identified Him as the suffering servant. And then, He ordained the disciples by sending them on their mission to Baptize and teach the world. He breathes on them the Holy Spirit and gives them His authority to forgive sins. This again is to assure God’s people that they have God’s peace because of Jesus.
Thomas wasn’t there when all this happened. Maybe he was out searching for Easter eggs, who knows?! But when he gets back, the disciples start telling him all that had happened. “We have seen the Lord!” they say. ‘Pffft!’ Thomas chortles, ‘how’d I get tied up with these conspiracy theorists!?’ Dead people don’t come back to life, you pack of utter buffoons, that’s impossible! But the disciples were adamant that they weren’t fibbin’. Jesus is alive! Christ is Risen! But Thomas will have no part of it. “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” (JN 20:25) he says.
No conspiracies for Thomas! No rabbit holes or research for him! No unfounded, fanciful claims! He will not analyze your theory, no matter how hard you believe it. He won’t even entertain the thought without the cold hard facts. He needs the proof. He needs the science. He will never believe the disciples’ words about Jesus unless he too first hand witnesses the evidence of the risen Christ. And, it’s hard to blame ol’ Doubting Thomas, really. Everyone was still reeling from Jesus dying on the cross at the hands of the Romans after the Jews’ plans to kill Him came to fruition. Their Lord and Messiah was dead! They saw Him die on the cross. 3 years of following around this carpenter turned preacher from Galilee was all for not! And now, this absurd story that Jesus was alive? Forget about it! Let’s just get back to our old routines and life will carry on.
And here is the temptation for all of us. The thrills and excitement of Easter quickly fade and life gets back to routines. Back to the cold hard facts of everyday life. Gotta go to work. Gotta get the kids to their activities. Gotta get the mail, the groceries, the laundry, the usual. And the miracle of Easter seems to lose its lustre. But God will remind us, as He did to Thomas, that we should never lose sight of the miraculous. We should always have our eyes and ears open to faith – that God can and does do the impossible all the time. The greatest example of this was done in raising Christ Jesus from the dead. For this shows us beyond all shadow of doubt that death itself is a defeated foe. And nothing is more miraculous than that!
Another miraculous detail of the whole doubting Thomas affair is that Jesus doesn’t chastise him for his doubts. Instead, He stands in his midst and assures him. He takes his unbelief and transforms it into rock solid faith. Eight days later, everyone was together again inside behind the locked doors. Jesus comes in and stands in the midst of His disciples again. This time Thomas is there too.
The message is still the same, “Peace be with you.” To Thomas He answers his unbelief. “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe!” (20:27). Not faithless, but believing be! Have the faith that believes the impossible. It’s a dynamic faith that takes God at His word, no matter how impossible it seems. No matter how difficult life gets. No matter how dark the road we have to walk becomes. Whether it’s a new job or a new school, all the way to a newly diagnosed problem with our health. God is with us, in our midst, giving us His peace that surpasses all understanding. This He did for Thomas. This He does for us too.
What does God’s assurance do for us? It changes us completely. Thomas is moved from a staunch doubter to amazingly faithful. “My Lord and my God!” Thomas replies to Jesus. “Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (20:29). Jesus assures us that even though we have not seen Him face to face like the disciples did, it is even greater to believe through the eyes of faith. The assurance of our Lord’s forgiveness, help and peace is even more sure. Thomas went from doubting our Lord’s resurrection to proclaiming that Christ is Risen nearly 7000km away in India! To this very day the Indian Church traces its roots to the preaching of St. Thomas!