Covid-19 made the celebration of Easter unlike anything we have ever seen. Public gatherings banned around the world, congregations resorted to Facebook live events or Zoom gatherings online in which solitary pastors connected with isolated parishioners to declare the resurrection of Jesus. Many churches creatively tackled this new reality with cleverly edited clips of house-bound individuals singing or performing favorite hymns. But no matter the ingenuity, it was a surreal experience to participate in Easter worship by myself in front of a computer screen. In many ways, I felt as if I had “missed” Easter.
But if I am honest, even without the Covid-19 restrictions, there have been Easter Sundays that have come and gone without much notice in my own life as well. Even though I am present in body and mind, my heart is often disengaged from the significance of this celebration. Thankfully, the season of Eastertide invites all to inquire how the continuing presence of the risen Lord manifests himself in our day-to-day reality—an even more poignant and pressing quest in the face of the global pandemic.
I am reminded, as I try to live into Easter realities, that the disciple Thomas also missed Easter Sunday, in a way. Remembered in Christian tradition as “doubting Thomas,” he was not physically present when Jesus first appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. Locked up in a room because of their fear of the Jewish authorities, the ten remaining disciples may have been huddled together puzzling over Mary Magdalene’s pronouncement that she had seen Jesus, alive and well, after her visit to his tomb. John’s gospel does not tell his readers why Thomas is not present with the other disciples; he simply records that on “the first day of the week… Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you….’ But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.”(1)
When Thomas did show up, the other disciples proclaimed their good news to him. They too, like Mary before them, had seen the risen Jesus. He was alive and he had come to them. Thomas, however, is not convinced and tells them so. “Unless I see in his hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Thomas could have made this declaration out of a place of despair rather than disbelief. Unfortunately, for him, the history of biblical interpretation and teaching has sided with the latter. Thomas is “doubting Thomas” who refused to believe; all because he wasn’t there on that first Easter appearance of Jesus.
Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Missing Easter