Life in His Name
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31) He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! We are people of the “eighth” day who live in the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus. Today at International Lutheran Church, we live in the marks - the wounds - that testify to us that our Savior Jesus lives. Just as Thomas looked with new eyes of faith, we, too, are shown a new reality today that changes our lives eternally.
The story of the disciple Thomas who doubted the news of Jesus’ resurrection is the focus of the first week after Easter. We sometimes call him Doubting Thomas because of his insistence on empirical evidence. He had not seen the Lord, and he would not believe until He did. Thankfully our Lord does not reject him, but in this exchange blesses all who believe without seeing. But how are we to believe something that we haven’t seen? This was not just a problem for Thomas, but for all of us. And yet, this is the very nature of our faith: to believe things that cannot be seen in any kind of normal way. In fact, the resurrection changes everything into “not normal.”
Note how even the day is numbered by John as the eighth day. In a way, John’s Gospel tells us that we are now people of the “eighth” day – the Day of Resurrection. What was once the beginning of the new week and the first day of creation now has become the Lord’s Day that is devoted to God’s recreative and resurrection power displayed in Jesus. This is the beginning of something entirely new. The day that once focused on our work and our activity is now focused on Jesus and His work. He is the One who stands in their midst and reveals to them the new life in His very wounds.
Note, too, how our Lord does not reject Thomas and his desire for concrete evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. Instead, Jesus gives to Thomas the very thing that he sought – a glimpse into the mystery of life in Jesus. In doing this not only does Jesus prove His bodily resurrection, but He also blesses us who believe without seeing. This is the very definition of faith – trusting God and taking Him at His word and promise. If He says to us, “You are baptized, and it is no longer you who lives, but Christ who lives in you,” then this is true – even when I don’t see it or feel it. Our faith is not a trust in our own ability to believe but rather trust in what God has done and said about our new condition in Jesus. This is why John concludes his account of Jesus, His life, death and resurrection, with the summary verse that these things which he has written are the basics of what our life in Jesus’ name now means.
This is not necessarily easy. Being here at my father’s side as his life slowly ebbed away was not easy to witness. It seemed the very opposite of everything we would hope for. Yet this time was precious, even the moment when his breath stopped, and things seemed hopeless. This is when we remember that our faith holds on to Him who held on to us through His Cross. His wounds heal us! The marks in His side open for us a new life, and eternal life in Him that not even death can wrench from us. We have life in His name, and because we do, everything is new! Alleluia! Christ is risen! Alleluia!