Though the John of the Gospel is probably not the John of Revelation, here too Jesus is the one who is pierced and wounded. Here too he is a witness to truth (see John 18:37), whose followers bear witness to him.
Even after his resurrection, Jesus remains wounded when he appears to his disciples. Indeed, it is by seeing his wounds—not his halo—that Thomas expects to believe that he is alive. Is Thomas “doubting”? Despite some modern translations, the word used in verse 27 is not “doubting” but “unbelieving.” It’s not that Thomas had trouble believing; he just didn’t believe. But he was no more unbelieving than the other disciples; he was just not with them when they saw Jesus. They also remained fearful behind closed doors even after Mary Magdalene brought them the good news that Jesus is alive. They too needed the sight of Jesus’ wounds in order to believe Jesus was alive.
Jesus’ sharing of our suffering is the surest sign that this is the real Jesus, the one who makes God known (see John 1:18; 14:7). Thomas’s confession “My Lord and my God” takes us back to the beginning of John: the Word was God, yet became human flesh and lived as we live. Jesus’ wounds attest to God’s willingness to dwell among us.
Jesus blesses those who have not seen and yet believe. How do they come to believe? Through the testimony of the disciples who are sent as Jesus was sent, and through the books written about him. These believers who have not seen become witnesses themselves, and they too are without halos. Our most faithful testimony to the wounded Giver of life is our own life-giving deeds (see John 14:12). It is those who suffer loss who manifest God’s universal reign; in their suffering they let Jesus shine through them.
How have you borne witness to Jesus? In what ways have his wounds appeared in you?
After the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples are unable to remain silent. They go to the Temple to proclaim the gospel. Some people receive the message, while others do not. This causes turmoil within the community, but the apostles stand firm in their testimony, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Psalm 150 might be on the lips of those early apostles. Everything that has breath should praise the Lord! The author of Revelation recounts a vision that he receives from the risen Jesus Christ, who one day will return as Lord of all nations. In John we learn more about the source of the confidence of the apostles. They have experienced Jesus in the flesh, and this experience gives power to their proclamation of the reality of his resurrection.
Read Acts 5:27-32. When has your faith compelled you to rise up, stand up, or kneel down in obedience to God rather than earthly authorities?
Read Psalm 150. When have you praised God with great celebration? When have you praised God with quiet service to creation?
Read Revelation 1:4-8. How do you see peace arising out of violence in the Bible and in the world around you?
Read John 20:19-31. How have your experiences of witnessing violence or the results of violence helped you to understand that violence does not have the last word?
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