But Thomas said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ (John 20:25)
That first Easter day, the disciple Thomas didn't see Jesus when the others did, and he wouldn't believe that Jesus was alive. Jesus needed to appear to him for him to see and believe. We are those who haven't seen Jesus, and won't until we either die or he returns. How can we believe?
Then Jesus told Thomas, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:29-31)
John wrote his gospel so that we can believe that Jesus is alive because of what we read. His book is designed to give us certainty about Jesus, so that we can believe and be blessed because of that.
“They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus” (Luke 24:22-24)
That first Easter day, two disciples trudge to Emmaus. They have heard that Jesus is missing from his tomb, and that angels have said that he is not dead, but alive. But they don’t believe, and so they trudge slowly to Emmaus. What they haven’t yet spotted is that the one they are talking to is Jesus. Jesus is alive.
The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.’ (Matthew 28:5-6)
Easter Day is a day for celebration: Jesus has risen from the dead. The first Easter Day started with confusion and fear, however, but then lead to great joy. The women who see the empty tomb leave with joy to tell Jesus’ disciples that he is alive. How can we have that joy? What does it mean to be filled with joy because of Easter?
This took place to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to Daughter Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”’ (Matthew 21:4-5)
This Sunday is usually called Palm Sunday, because we remember Jesus entering Jerusalem greeted as if he were a king. Cloaks are laid on the ground for his donkey to walk on, palm branches are waved in the air to mark his entry.
What kind of king is this? What will happen to him next? What should we make of all this?
Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:8)
Paul’s appeal to Christians is to live holy lives, as God’s holy people. Because of God’s goodness to us, Christians are to be those who live differently - we are to live according to God’s pattern, not our own.
Our approach to how we live in relationship to others, to possessions, and to God is to be different. What would that look like for us? How are we to be different? Why should we be different?