I am fascinated with surgery! I’m a hairdresser by trade, but any chance I get to watch a surgery on tv…I am in!! I can’t get enough of seeing the inner workings of our bodies or the repairs needed to help them continue to function. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I like watching Dr Pimple Popper, My Feet Are Killing Me and anything else that contains surgery. I also like to “practice” as much “medicine” as I can. I have removed sutures for people, given shots to friends who’s husbands couldn’t stomach the job, steri-stripped my daughter’s incision back together when it opened after staples were removed and a few other “procedures” that might make some of you queasy to read about so I’ll stop here. When friends or family have a procedure, I am always interested to hear about their experience and what their incision or affected area looks like. If they live far away and I know I won’t get to see them during the healing process I ask them to send pictures. I know I can’t really get my mind around their experience or how they are feeling unless I can see their wound. I want to understand what happened and I don’t feel like I can really grasp what they went through unless I can get my eyes on them and see for myself. In our reading for today, Jesus’ friends struggled to believe what was before them until they were able to see the physical proof they needed to see with their own eyes.
John 20 tells us about Jesus resurrection after his crucifixion. When we talk about and read about the end of Jesus’ life, I feel like we are mostly looking at the events through Jesus’ experience. After he dies, we all know what is coming next because we know who he is. We know he raises from the dead…it’s the best part of the story and we long for that part to come. But we didn’t live the events like Jesus’ family and friends did. For them His death was the end…just like death is the end of life on earth when we lose someone we love. They were devastated, broken, sad beyond belief and probably at great loss because their ministry felt over. When his body went missing, those who loved him could only think that someone had stolen him. They were frantic to find his body and get him back in his proper final resting spot. The horrible circumstances just kept piling on for them!
And then he appeared… first to Mary, then to his friends and then again about a week after the first time to his friends again. Can you put yourself in their shoes? Can you imagine the person you just watched die, sat through funeral services for and buried or placed in a tomb appearing in a room with you without using the door to enter? Do you have the “no way” thoughts, the fear, the skittishness in believing that this is really your friend? I have only had one experience in my life that comes close to this kind unbelievableness. There was a car accident and several students were killed. My uncle is a pastor and the youth pastor he worked with lost his daughter Whitney in that accident. Whitney’s family planned her funeral and my uncle officiated the services while grieving with his close friends. It was devastating for all. About three weeks after her funeral, it was finally soaking in for me that she was actually gone. My dad called me one afternoon and simply said, “Whitney is alive”. I literally had no words. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. I couldn’t grasp the truth until he explained that Whitney’s body had gotten confused at the accident scene with another girl’s. Until “the girl” in the hospital woke from her coma and started to speak, no one knew that it was actually Whitney instead of Laura. In this case, Whitney was never dead, but every time I read the events of Jesus’ resurrection I think of my dad’s voice over the phone telling me “Whitney is alive”.
Jesus’ friends had trouble believing and processing the events they were living through. They needed to see with their eyes and touch with their hands the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side. Those wounds were the proof they needed to make sense of what was happening. They needed to see to believe that their friend and leader was actually killed, buried and now alive. It was too strange and different from what they knew to accept without seeing. God knew they would need to see Jesus. He knew that witnessing Jesus’ death would make it too hard to believe that he was alive without seeing him for themselves.
John 20:29-30 “Jesus told them, You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me. 30-The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded 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 by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.”