A beam of light streams across the stained glass and reredos in Trinity Church

Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: Living Witnesses

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors were locked where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

John 20:19–31

In Sunday’s Gospel reading (one of three resurrection stories in Eastertide), Jesus greets the disciples in their fear, hurt, and loss with the gifts of peace and the Holy Spirit. In doing so, he commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

John’s Gospel invites each of us to be part of the resurrection story and to become living witnesses to new life in our various contexts. We are writing the resurrection story in our own time by faithful, hope-filled openness to new life; we are writing the resurrection story by our willingness to carry the good news of life-transforming love into all that we do.

Thomas’ doubt is hardly surprising; the news of Jesus’ appearance was incredible to the disciples who had just seen him tortured and entombed. We too, like Thomas, have both moments of doubt and moments when we proclaim wholeheartedly that Jesus is our Lord and our God. While the Christian tradition has been somewhat unkind to Thomas because of his questioning attitude, in truth, Thomas shows us the depth of what it means to meet the risen Christ and be transformed in every way.

For reflection: Where am I in my faith journey? Toddler? Adolescent? Adult? Skeptic? Struggling believer? Dialogue with the resurrected Jesus about your spiritual journey, even if you have been indifferent or resistant until now; Jesus did not abandon Thomas. He waited.

—Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

Three types of doubt are considered in this commentary from SALT.

Interfaith perspectives on the story of Easter with Mark Heim and Abdul-Rehman Malik.

And a sermon by the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells of St. Martin-in-the-Fields that concludes with this line: “Come to the party, Thomas. You’ll love it. We’ve been waiting for you.”

“Here we are shown twice how Jesus breaks into the lives of his friends. Can he break in on me? Where am I in these scenes? Am I hesitant like Thomas? Am I looking for some sign before committing myself to the fact that I am living in a new world, the world of the resurrection?”

“Ubi Caritas” by Ola Gjeilo
 with voices, piano, and strings.

A selection of classical and contemporary art slides with scripture verses for meditation in Eastertide.

The opening verse in Steve Garnaas-Holmes’ poem “Thomas, Undone” suggests an inner spaciousness and directionality beneath Thomas’ skepticism: “The unease you feel is not doubt./It is hunger to go deeper./You are not done yet.”

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Coming Soon

Beginning this Sunday, April 16, join us for the new Discovery series, Lamentation and Joy in the Bible. The Bible mirrors our own lives, including the highs and the lows. Explore joy and lamentation in the Bible in this series, with a special session with pilgrims returning from Greece and Rome.

On May 5–7 at Trinity Retreat Center, you can join Dr. Lisa Bowens, Professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, for a retreat on African American Readings of St. Paul, an opportunity to journey through the centuries by engaging select portions of works by Black authors who lived from the 18th to the 20th century.