God’s Story of Life

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

April 7, 2024 – Second Sunday of Easter, John 20:19-31

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From all indications, it appeared that the life of Jesus had ended. He was arrested, judged guilty of some vague crime and according to Roman law and was condemned to die. His death took place in public view. There were witnesses, most sadly his own mother, to his final breath. He was taken down from the cross on which he hung and placed in a nearby tomb.

So many of his closest known followers hid from the authorities because they were worried that they would be next in line for arrest and all the rest. All his teachings about life and its future seemed to have departed with his terrible death. They were confused, their hope was all but gone, and worst of all, they were filled with fear. His closest followers locked themselves in a place where they might have felt somewhat safe. Still, however, they were scared.

Then Jesus suddenly was there in the room, the marks of his wounds still fresh on his body. With his presence came his gift of peacefulness. His basic message was that death is not the last word. Life is.

The gospels offer little in specifics about the exact nature of God’s continued gift of life after death, except that it exists. Hardship and struggle may have their moments, but in the end, we will live with God and one another in great joy without end. Toward the end of today’s gospel, we read that that those who have not seen the risen Jesus, as did his first disciples, are also to be blessed. They too (meaning you and me) are part of this great story of life as created by God.

As each of our days here on Earth passes, we move closer to our future, a future when we will be rejoined by those who were close to us during our earthly days and have moved ahead to a life of unending joy and happiness. Accepting this reality, this more complete story of our existence, offers us hope even during our most trying times here.

The Easter story is not only about Jesus. It is also about us. Like his first disciples, we too face moments of uncertainty, fear and worry. All of our days on Earth are not guaranteed to be happy ones. I wonder whether we too will carry the marks of our sufferings into our lives after death. Yet they won’t hurt. Like the wound marks of Jesus, they will be a sign of struggles and difficulties. They will be like battle ribbons worn by those who have fought the good fight and survived.   

David M. Thomas, PhD

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