‘We have seen the Lord’ – April 14, 2023 (107-108/365)

Recently I’ve been brought to learn that in the more… orthodox denominations of Christianity, they practice something called Thomas Sunday. I asked our good friend ChatGPT to help me out with a proper introduction to when and what Thomas Sunday is:

Thomas Sunday, also known as the Second Sunday of Easter, is an important day in the Christian calendar that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So I’m led to believe that this is the Sunday that follows Resurrection Sunday. They’re calling it the Second Sunday of Easter, sure, but I’d like to think of it as a part 2 of the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I wanted to be clear on that, because apparently you don’t have to have a really grandiose celebration on one Sunday commemorating the empty tomb – what’s to stop us from celebrating the Sunday after?

And really, what’s to stop us from celebrating on every Sunday?

I mean, it’s sort of like Christmas, I suppose. Why celebrate the birth of Christ on one day of the year, when we can celebrate the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ during each and every Sunday, or even whenever we gather? Sure, I get it, just like we like to make a spectacle of the Christmas season (seemingly to appeal to the prevalent holiday mindset), so that’s probably the motive behind making Easter Sunday explosive…

(Okay, I didn’t mean to segue this hard but I’m just letting this all outta my chest while I have all of it in mind.)

…but what I’ve learned in the past and what I’ve seen before, during and after this particular Resurrection Sunday 2023 is this: That if it’s the collective goal for a group coming together to ‘make Easter Sunday greater (or in Tagalog, ‘mas bongga’) than Christmas’, or that much explosive, then no one person or entity can claim full creative control. A collective goal could only be met by collaboration. If only one entity pulls the strings then it’s just their goals that are met.

But say that does happen. The rest of the group could come to an agreement to let others lead them, but it’s the burden and responsibility of these people to truly ‘pull it off’, or at the very least, they ought to respect the rest of the team by getting their buy-in, without assuming that they would fall in line enthusiastically. Unfortunately, in the issue at hand, we forgot one thing: In any and all things we categorize as ministry, Christ, and His finished work are to be placed on the pedestal. The moment that we place too much emphasis on ‘excellence’ and any other similar tactic, it turns out as I fear it does: People not making it about Christ, but making it about them making it about Christ.

And actually, now that I think about it, if you’re really wanting to make a spectacle out of Easter Sunday the same way you do with Christmas, then do you actually do it all in one day? I just mentioned that Thomas Sunday is also an extension, but aren’t we forgetting the rest of the Passion of the Christ, starting on Palm Sunday, or even before that? I’m sorry, but the entire idea of glorifying the resurrection of Christ in just one day (1) sort of implies that you aren’t giving it any attention on the other days of the year and (2) is just so counterproductive in the sense that you’re trying to put too much activity and song within 2 hours of 1 day.

(Okay. Rant over. What were we talking about here?)

I’m looking at Thomas Sunday to be Resurrection Sunday, Part 2. Yeah, just like they had to split The Godfather, Part II into two actual parts.

In the words of Jim Halpert, that’s more classy.

ChatGPT Continues:

It is named after the disciple Thomas, who famously doubted the resurrection until he saw Jesus himself and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” This event not only demonstrates the power of Jesus’ resurrection but also shows that even the most skeptical of believers can be convinced of its truth.

(Today) we will explore the significance of Thomas Sunday and how it can inspire us to deepen our faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. We will reflect on the story of Thomas and the lessons it can teach us about doubt, faith, and the transformative power of encountering the risen Christ. Join us as we journey through the story of Thomas and discover the hope and joy that the resurrection brings to our lives.

Very AI-ish, them last sentences. Thanks, ChatGPT. I thought from here on out, I’d have us focus on Scripture. That said, let’s read John 20:24-29:

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”

Much excitement from these eleven, eh? Well, let’s see what actually transpired, as retold in the previous verses:

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And 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 withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

So the way I see it, the disciples were in hiding, and were behind locked doors. Take note that according to even earlier verses, Mary Magdalene had already reported to the disciples, and she announced to them, ‘I have seen the Lord.’ So even after that report, John mentioned that they were still in fear of the Jews.

However, as we just read, ‘Jesus came’. Could be that He popped up in their midst even with the doors locked. And the disciples not only saw Him standing, but they heard Him saying to them, ‘Peace be with you.’; and without skipping a beat, as if He knew what would really encourage them, He showed them the holes in His hands and on His side.

Teleportation still isn’t invented, but here we have the Creator just couldn’t pass on the opportunity to demonstrate His ultimate superiority over Time and Space: One moment He was in one location, and then in a split second, He was in another location, bypassing the laws that demanded it took time to move from one place to another. One moment He was outside, and then in a split second, He was inside, totally disregarding and bypassing the locked doors. 

So sure, the disciples suddenly saw Christ. Then they actually heard Him, when He said, ‘Peace be with you.’ I mean, He could have said one of so many things, but again, we’ve sort of come to the consideration that what He wants for us, first and foremost, is peace. Rather, peace is one of the first aspects of the salvation we have in Christ Jesus.

But here’s the thing – I don’t think the disciples believed it was Him, even if they saw Him and heard him. No less than Christ had come to them with excellent visuals and audio, but I’d like to think they still had their doubts. Just like why we doubt things we see and hear online today, what with AI deepfake faces and voices easily created and replicated. Apparently to see and to hear does not necessarily lead to believing.

The guy in that one song, the one who saw her face and became a believer – in Tagalog terms we’d call that man ‘mahina’ (weak).

No I think the convincing was solid only when Christ showed them the wounds in His hands and on His side. I mean, I can see you. I can hear you, smell you, and touch you. But anyone can do that, and it’s not like everyone would believe you are you. But when we’re shown receipts and proof without shadow of a doubt that you did what you said you would do, that’s when the believing comes in.

If the living Christ was the receipt of our salvation and reconciliation through His death, so the wounds in His hands and the scars on His side were the receipt of the resurrected Christ; Or, the Christ who died, and came back to life. It was written that the disciples were glad when they saw Him only AFTER they had seen His hands and His side.

I mean, come on. Take that in. I’ll say it again: The wounds in Christ’s hands and the scars on His side were the receipt of the resurrection, i.e. confirmation of God’s everlasting love for us, confirmation of our reconciliation to Him… Christ’s hands and His side were receipts of the miracle of miracles!

Sure, we’ve been called to do signs and wonders. Or rather, that’s what we’re being pushed to do in the church I help out in, anyway – and sure, I agree with the potential of miracles, as testimonies of God’s absolute goodness. But let us go forth and do what we do, whether they be the signs and wonders according to our own limited ways of thinking or just living our lives as testimonies on their own – However we approach it, let us NEVER forget to present ourselves as beneficiaries, recipients of the miracle of miracles. Just as the wounds and the scars brought the disciples to believe, let us NEVER forget that our movements will always point to ONE thing – Christ’s death, and Christ’s resurrection!

If we MUST talk of signs and wonders, here’s a reminder to all of us: Our signs and wonders both COME FROM and LEAD TO the Sign of Signs, and the Wonder of Wonders – the death and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

(Sorry, I think I just ranted again)

May the goodness of God lead us to say ‘We have seen the Lord’ to all who are locked away, all who are hiding in fear.

I may need to continue our analysis of John 20:24-29 in another article. For now, let me just sum up what I’ve gathered from all this writing:

  • The more you push and force people to celebrate, the more counterproductive it may be. Fortunately, the more we dwell and meditate and focus on Christ, the more the celebration comes out naturally.
  • If you insist on your own way without the consideration or consensus of the entire group involved, don’t be surprised if they don’t show up next time. Fortunately, wherever you are in the spectrum, you can draw peace from knowing that Christ is the common ground and the solid Rock on whom we all stand.
  • Visuals and audio have their effect, but your impact is in how you add value to people. We testify not primarily by advertising Christ, but by sharing how Christ added value to us.
  • The wounds in Christ’s hands and side were the receipt of Christ’s death and resurrection. They were the proof and confirmation that what Christ said was finished, IS finished. Amen and amen.

I do apologize, as a good part of what I have written down here was ranting. Moving forward, I’d love to take more lessons on how to make my writing more intentional and less chaotic, adding more value and less filler.

Thank you so much for your patience with me so far. I’m promising and declaring right now, greater things and greater articles are on their way.

Until the next post (coming very soon), God bless you.

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