He's Alive!! He's Standing Right Next to Us!!

Imagine, if you will, the early morning mists swirling around the garden where Jesus' tomb was located.  A solitary figure comes quietly wandering to the tomb and is startled to see that it is empty, with angels proclaiming that Jesus is risen from the dead.  She sees another person approaching who she doesn't recognize.  Thinking he is the gardener, she begs for information where Jesus' body may have been secreted away.  Imagine her shock when she hears her name spoken in a voice she recognizes.  Only then does she realize that Jesus stands before her.

The Scripture clearly declares that Jesus looked different.  His mortal body had been changed by the resurrection experience into his heavenly body.  Somehow he no longer looked like the travel weary and work worn rabbi Mary knew well.  Think about this when we hear the account of Jesus appearing to his disciples in the Upper Room.  

They were gathered in that room where they had just previously observed the Passover Seder.  They were afraid for their lives, knowing the anger of the crowd toward Jesus, knowing that he had been cruelly executed by the Romans, and knew their three year adventure with this unusual rabbi was over.  The doors were locked.  Yet, much to their terror filled astonishment, there stood Jesus, alive, right next to them.  No door had opened, He had literally come through the wall!  I don't think they were able to fully recognize him any better than Mary did in the garden.  

When Jesus spoke with them his first words were designed to calm their astonishment, their terror at seeing his appearance suddenly.  Yet I am now convinced that it was only when they heard his voice were they became fully aware that Jesus himself stood before them.  Poor Thomas, the disciple who has gotten a bad rap as a doubter, wanted to be sure that the person before him was indeed Jesus.  How to know for sure?  "I will not believe until I see the scars in his hands and side."  We have long preached that his doubt was one of a lack of faith.  I have come to believe that he was wanting to be sure his eyes weren't deceiving him, that this was truly the Master.  

Remember that we never read that Jesus gave Thomas a bad time about his doubt.  He simply showed him the scars that testified to the reality of who he was.  Like Mary, they saw before them a person who had been altered, changed in his likeness from the human Jesus with whom they had spent so much time.  When Thomas saw those scars, his heartfelt proclamation:  "My Lord and my God!" testifies that his recognition of Jesus was complete.

Let us think on the many guises in which Jesus comes to us . . . as needy persons, the hopeless and helpless, the wanderers, Christian  brothers and sisters who sometimes tell us truths we don't want to hear.  Or perhaps we fail to listen for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit who seeks to give us new insights as we read and meditate on Scripture.  

During this Eastertide, my our inner eyes be open to the occasions, to the individuals who bring the presence of Christ into our lives.

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