You see, believing in the gospel of John, and believing specifically in Jesus is what it means to believe and to have faith. What the disciples got is what Thomas was missing. What Thomas needed is that moment of being with Jesus, of seeing him, and experiencing him. The rest of the disciples’ words to him that “they have seen the Lord” are not quite enough, Thomas needs that critical encounter. And I think if we are somewhat honest with ourselves that’s what we need too.
The resurrection doesn’t take away all their fear, but it does enable them to keep their faith and trust in the midst of their fear and to go and share the good news in spite of how anxious they are. This courage and this response of both fear and joy is the Easter message.
This is Bishop Satterlee’s Sermon from our Easter Vigil Service on April 19, 2014.
For me this night, I am lingering here beneath the cross of Jesus just like Jesus’ mother Mary, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and the disciple whom Jesus loved. All of them are standing under Jesus’ cross looking up at him, watching as he hangs on the cross. We all know the ending of this story, and we so often rush our way through this night just to get to the good part of resurrection; but you also know the truth about this night. There can be no good news at all in the resurrection if we are not acquainted with death. If we have no experience of this night and of the cross, then an empty tomb will be absolutely meaningless.
Ezekiel prophesies to the people that they are not without hope and God has not abandoned them to the Babylonians. God is a God of steadfast love, and is the one who holds fast to the covenant that God makes to the Israelites long before this time of exile.