Easter 2, 2014: Healing doubt

Acts 2:14a, 22-32 Psalm 16 1 Peter 1:3-9 John 20:19-31
Alleluia! The Lord is risen! (The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!)

Healing doubt

“Through believing you may have life in his name”
Mercurochrome. Something was definitely being healed when that tell-tale red stain spread out beyond the band-aid. If you had a band-aid – let it breathe! Mercurochrome provided a tangible sign that something had been hurt and that action was being taken toward healing. That red stain lasted a loooong time.

Vicks vapo-rub. The scent of Vicks vapo-rub seeped not only into our skin but into our noses and hands and sheets and therefore the laundry … you knew that something was being healed when that smell filled your … life.

Other home and store remedies provide physical signs of medicine “being done;” calamine lotion with its tell tale pink spots, the steam of tea and scent of lemon, the stickiness of honey dripping down the side of a warm porcelain mug … ahh … feel it? We were cared for in ways that involved many of our senses.

It is night, and our lives have been turned upside down. We lost Jesus, and then he appeared, at least to Mary. We are hiding away in this room. The doors are locked against anyone who might try to hurt us: religious leaders, Roman soldiers, people from that angry mob, the people that we stood with next to the fire when we warmed our hands. We are very, very afraid.

What is the one thing that you wish for when a loved one dies? One more time. One more time to say hello, goodbye, I’m sorry, I love you. We want to change the way we spent our time together, or to savor its beauty just one more time.

PEACE BE WITH YOU. Can you imagine? The JOY – it’s Jesus! He’s here! The disciples, in one way, get that one last time, but really , they do not. Jesus commissions them, gives them a job: receive the Holy Spirit and go to work. Forgive people. Hear them out and make a decision.

Thomas was not with us; you know Thomas, our Twin.

Thomas is our twin in the sense that what we really, really, really want to know is:

WHAT IS IT THAT WILL HEAL OUR DOUBT?

Thomas was able to see Jesus wounds, touch him. Jesus says: “Do not doubt but believe.”

What we find out from this interchange is:
 Jesus is real. We need to know that, even and maybe especially, today.
 He is risen from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is real and is of the body. Jesus, although he somehow appeared in a locked room, has a body. We, too, will be risen from the dead.
 That body bears the scars of earthly life: the holes in his hands and in his side are there. Whatever resurrection life looks like, we bear the scars of our life on this earth.

Jesus’ words tell us a lot more:
 Peace be with you. These are the same words that Jesus gave us before his death. Peace I leave you – not as the world gives, but as Jesus gives. The peace of Jesus means that our physical death is but one ending.
 Jesus gives us the breath of the Holy Spirit and a job to do. Go out into the world.

What about the doubt?
Thomas’ doubt was closer to our translation of “unbelieving.” Stop unbelieving.

Stop unbelieving and believe.

We are being cared for in a way that involves all of our senses; instead of Mercurochrome, there is the blood of Christ through which all of our sins can be washed. Instead of Vicks, there is the breath of God, and the fragrance, texture, taste and touch of bread, wine, water, prayer. There are the prayers of others that do not honor physical boundaries. There is oil of chrism and oil of healing and Scripture. These are the ways that we receive the physical Christ today; through the signs of his body, through words left by our ancient brothers and sisters, and by the breath of the Holy Spirit that gives us new life.

These actions between Jesus and Thomas are for all of us. Listen to the interaction in a new way, in the words of a preacher by the name of Charles Spurgeon:
Our Lord does not always act towards us according to his own dignity, but according to our necessity; and if we really are so weak that nothing will do but thrusting a hand into his side, he will let us do it. Nor do I wonder at this: if, for our sakes, he suffered a spear to be thrust there, he may well permit a hand to follow.

Jesus reaches out to us by what we need, not by what we understand of Him. I do not know why tea and lemon and honey make us feel better, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the involvement of our whole bodies and someone else’s entire heart. Jesus shows us his whole self, gives (and gave) all of himself for us. There is no better healing.

About that doubt: Jesus answers our doubt in a curious way. Instead of saying “do not doubt,” he says: believe.

Believe.

Believe and you ………….will have life in Jesus’ name.

Through believing you may (will) have life in Jesus’ name.

So:
 We are called to be brave. To ask Jesus to see his wounds when that is what we need in order to be healed. Ask. See the wounds of Jesus; they are all around us.
 We are called to see Christ in every person we meet; that means we will see Christ’s body, his suffering, his love, his compassion, his surrender to God’s will, his death. And His new life and that phenomenal healing power.

See the hands and feet of Jesus through the words that we have been given. What a precious gift. Be healed by the Healer, by Love, by Word.

Through believing you have life in Jesus’ name.

Alleluia. Amen.

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