Death is so permanent (or is it)

Jesus told his followers. “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

In the famous Police Station scene of the 1984 movie ‘The Terminator’, Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I’ll be back.” While he didn’t say when, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he would return.

When Jesus made a similar statement, it is doubtful His followers really understood what he was telling them. And this is understandable. Yet, on Easter Sunday the tomb was empty and Jesus, who had been crucified and died a few days earlier, was randomly appearing to His disciples. His presence among them left none in doubt that Jesus, the man, had risen from the dead.

But there was one exception, Thomas. Whenever Jesus had chosen to appear among His friends, Thomas had not been present. While his excited friends would have told him about Jesus’ return and what they had experienced, he wasn’t having a bar of it. I feel sure he would be saying things like, “Ah! c’mon guys, death is permanent. I’ll believe what you say when I see Him with my own eyes and touch His wounds. Until then I’m not convinced.”

Thomas reminds me so much of ourselves. As humans, we are sceptical of outlandish claims by others and prefer to judge for ourselves through our own experience. Many of us are unsure of our faith even though many try to convince us of how we should think and feel about a God who we cannot readily see or touch. Our humanness often prefers to accept the science surrounding us in life and we tend to question the existence of a ‘so-called loving God’ who allows such terrible things to happen to us and around us, in our world. We suffer serious pain and wonder why. We see innocent people being killed and find it hard to understand.

After physically seeing Jesus and being invited to touch His wounds we read how Thomas fell to his knees proclaiming, “My Lord and my God.” While Jesus proclaimed that those who hadn’t seen and yet still were prepared to believe would be ‘blessed,’ He was obviously referring to all of us. But for some of us that is a big ask.

Maybe, what we don’t read about is what happened after Thomas ‘saw the light.’ Did Jesus just walk away to chat with the others, leaving Thomas down on the floor to sort himself out. I don’t think so! I think Jesus would have reached down to Thomas, helped him up, put His arms around him and embraced him. Just as He is prepared to embrace us if we can find it within ourselves to reach out to Him with all our unanswered questions, our doubts and our pain.

As the arms of the crucified Christ surround us let our uncertainties and our pain mingle with His. He has suffered and died for the principles he proclaimed. Let His love bind us together as we share our pain with his pain and realise that in this way we can become one with Him as He is with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The arms of the crucified Jesus need no longer be constrained by the nails on the cross, they can be around us, if we allow this to happen.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith

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