Mariah Mills, Boise ID 

Warm-up Questions 

  • How did you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this Easter?
  • What happened after all of the celebrations were over? Did it feel like life just went back to normal?

What You See, Isn’t Always the Truth 

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia! What now?

If you went to or watched church on Easter Sunday, you likely heard something along the lines of: “Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the powers of sin, death, and the devil have been defeated! We no longer have to fear, we no longer have to be captive to sin, we are set free! Death is no longer the last word!” These are the beautiful truths we hold on to as followers of Jesus.

If you’re like me, you probably found yourself watching the news or using social media later that day after church. Through all of the scrolling we’re bombarded with stories about the ways death and injustice continue to wreak havoc throughout our world. We just proclaimed that death and evil have been defeated, and at the same time we still witness so much unjust death and so much evil. It looks like death continues to prevail. When all of the alleluias subside, what do we do with the resurrection? How do we reconcile the promise of the resurrection with a world that continues to hurt and suffer?

Thankfully, one week after we hear the joyful proclamation of Christ’s resurrection, we hear about what happened in the days following the empty tomb. It’s there, in this story we find today about the aftermath, that we find even more good news—as we wrestle with what resurrection means for us, and for the world, Jesus shows up.

Discussion Questions 

  • How do you respond when you see the ways death and evil continue to show up in the world?
    • Do you think it’s possible to still see glimpses of the resurrection in the midst of it all? What do those glimpses look like?
  • If you could ask Jesus one question about his resurrection, what would it be?

Easter Sunday 

Acts 4:32-35

Psalm 133

1 John 1:1—2:2

John 20:19-31

Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings. 

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day. 

Gospel Reflection 

If you read this passage from John and immediately went to “Doubting Thomas,” you wouldn’t be the only one. Often, along with his disbelief, Thomas becomes the star of the show in this passage. People try to wrestle with whether Thomas is doubting. or lacking trust. People wonder if that’s good, bad, or none of the above. Those are all great things to wrestle with at a time when doubt and questions continue to be seen as “bad” in the Christian faith. But if we zoom out a bit, and look at this passage within the bigger picture of the resurrection, I wonder if we’ll get a different perspective.

When we look at this passage rooted in resurrection, I think we find that these encounters with the disciples, Thomas, and the risen Jesus are directly addressing the question “What now?” The disciples know that the tomb is empty, and they’ve heard Mary say “I have seen the Lord.” Now they’re locked up in a room, out of fear for what might happen to them if they were outside. They could face the same fate as Jesus if they were found out. They are afraid of what’s next, uncertain about where Jesus is, and probably have questions about what Mary saw. What now? Then Jesus appears before them, saying “Peace be with you.” Jesus brings them peace in the midst of their fear.

We aren’t sure why, but Thomas isn’t there. Maybe he was making a coffee run, or maybe he really did believe that Mary had seen the risen Jesus and he was out proclaiming the good news. All we know is that Thomas missed seeing Jesus. So, all Thomas wants is what the other disciples had: an encounter with the risen Christ. Thomas wants to see for himself what the other disciples now know, that Jesus is alive. He is adamant, saying “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and his side, I will not believe.” Jesus appears before Thomas, saying “Peace be with you,” showing Thomas the marks in his hands. Jesus brings Thomas peace, and shows the marks of his defeat over death, all in the midst of his yearning to know Jesus is alive.

Today we also ask ourselves the question, “Jesus is risen. What now?” We may find ourselves feeling a lot like the disciples, filled with fear and uncertainty about the future. We may feel like it’s easier to hide and shut out the world rather than be with all those who suffer. Today we are reminded that, through the Holy Spirit, we have received the breath of the risen Christ. This is both a breath of peace and a breath that sends us out into the world as the body of Christ.

We may also find ourselves feeling a lot like Thomas, and I think that’s because we are all Thomas. We have not seen the resurrected Jesus in bodily form appear before us. Yet that does not mean we cannot believe. Although Jesus has not appeared to us to show us the marks of his hands, there are marks of the resurrected Jesus that we can see all around us. When you see signs of hope in the midst of the world’s suffering, those are marks of resurrection.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! What now? We live as the body of Christ in the world, trusting in the promise of resurrection. We do this with all of our joy, fear, wonder, questions, disbelief, and faith in tow. And as we live as Christ’s body, living in a world that still endures death and suffering, we will see that there are indeed still marks of the resurrection permeating all things.

Discussion Questions 

  • When is a time that you’ve felt like the disciples, afraid and locked up in a room out of fear?
  • When is a time that you’ve felt like Thomas, wanting to see evidence of Jesus and his resurrection?
  • What do you think it looks like to see “marks of the resurrection” all around us? Can you think of one that you’ve seen this week?

Activity Suggestions: 

  • Go out and live as the body of Christ in one way this week. Maybe that looks like volunteering at a nonprofit, helping a neighbor with yard work, or talking to someone new and getting to know them.
  • Spend some time journaling about a time when Jesus showed up when you were feeling afraid or struggling to believe. 

Closing Prayer 

God of resurrection, we praise you for the life, death, and resurrection of your son Jesus. As we wrestle with what resurrection means for our world, help us to see marks of the risen Jesus. Show us marks that give us hope for the coming Kingdom, a place where all that has been fractured is restored. A place where death, injustice, and evil are no more. A place of resurrection. Build us up as the body of Christ, and guide us as we proclaim the promise of resurrection in a hurting world. Amen.