JESUS MAFA. Jesus appears to Thomas, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” John 20:24
I wonder how convincing the other disciples were about their encounter with Jesus. Thomas may have had good reason to doubt them.
And I wonder how convincing I am as a witness for Jesus. Do I embody the compassion and unconditional love and non-judgment of Jesus? Do I embody the mercy and forgiveness and non-violence of Jesus? Do I embody the service and healing and humility of Jesus?
Honest doubt nudges me to deepen my commitment to practice the God-qualities that comfort and encourage others, and that bring peace to my corner of the world.
Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) Two Disciples at the Tomb, ca.1906 oil on canvas Art Institute of Chicago via Wikimedia Commons
When Simon Peter arrived after [the other disciple], he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. John 20:6-7
I imagine Jesus chuckling as he neatly rolls the cloth that had covered his head and leaves it conspicuously separate from the other burial cloths. He knows his disciples are in for a big surprise. And he knows they will be puzzled, dismayed—and hopeful.
The resurrection of Jesus always points me to hope. Hope in change. Hope in the unknown. Hope in God’s gentle guidance and infinite love.
Rembrandt (1606-1669) The Three Crosses, 1653 drypoint and burin on paper (III/IV) Rijksmuseum Amsterdam via Wikimedia Commons
After they had crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and the other on his left. Matthew 27:35-38
If I ever doubt that Jesus understands the suffering I experience, let me contemplate the cross with its reverberations of torturous pain, shaming ridicule, forlorn abandonment, and crushing despair.
Rembrandt (1606-1669) The Raising of Lazarus, circa 1630-1632 oil on oak panel Los Angeles County Museum of Art
[Jesus] cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” John 11:43-44
Sometimes I feel emotionally and spiritually dead, but Jesus calls me to come out of the tomb of depression and sends people to untie the bands of sadness, self-hatred, and self-preoccupation so that I may again relish the gifts of life, love, and companionship.