Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More thoughts on John 20:19-31

Today lets look at Thomas in this passage.

19-20Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you." Then he showed them his hands and side.
20-21The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: "Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you."
22-23Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. "Receive the Holy Spirit," he said. "If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?"
24-25But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, "We saw the Master."
But he said, "Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won't believe it."
26Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you."
27Then he focused his attention on Thomas. "Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don't be unbelieving. Believe."
28Thomas said, "My Master! My God!"
29Jesus said, "So, you believe because you've seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing."
30-31Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.

Just where was Thomas the first time around? Why wasn't he in the upperroom with the rest? Hiding somewhere else perhaps? Maybe he had heard through the grapevine about Jesus being risen from the dead. Perhaps he had gone back to the tomb to see if it was true and then headed to Galillee. We don't know and can only guess. But we do know it was a week later that they all were together including Thomas. He hadn't met the risen Jesus like the others, and openly expressed his feelings and his doubts. Often when someone dies, we will say "I just can't believe they are dead." We say that right after it happens, and sometimes almost a year or more later. That feeling doesn't go away quickly. So in a way Thomas is expressing normal reactions to an unbelievable situation. What is it like for those when there is no body or when the body is so disfigured or unpresentable for a viewing, what are the family members to do? How do they feel.

I heard my grandad died. He had donated his body to science, and I did not see his body after death, it immediately went to the University of Florida Medical School. I did wonder a lot what happened to him, what he looked like. I wanted to touch him to have a way of saying goodbye. I didn't get it. I had to use my imagination.

Thomas was able to see and touch Jesus. And what happened? Reality set in and he was able to profess Jesus as his Master and God.

Sometimes for people who are grieving, they are not able to move into reality, and stay in the unreality. Sometimes the grief takes over and a person is not able to move through their grief and are stuck in what is called unhealthy grief. Sometimes, the person feels guilty about something they have said or done, or didn't do and that affects the person's ability to grieve in a healthy way. Sometimes, the person is separated, not talked with or has had a negative relationship with the person who died, that also can effect the grief process. We don't know all that was behind how Thomas felt, what he did and said. But scripture leads us to believe he was able to move to a point of reality about Jesus.

How can we help those who are having trouble with their grief?

How can we help those who have not been able to see the body for some reason, grieve?

Grief can effect so many areas of one's life from simple tasks to major tasks to relationships to health, you name it. How can we minister to those in grief?

How can we help the "Thomases" in our life?

How are we like Thomas? What do we need in our lives our own grief?

1 comment:

Sally said...

How are we like Thomas- good question Abi. Some excellent thoughts here, food for my soul :-)