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The Rev. Dr. William H. Willimon The Rev. Dr. William H. Willimon

The Rev. Dr. William H. Willimon is Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at The Divinity School, Duke University. He retired after serving eight years as Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church.

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Bishop William Willimon: Easter Comes to Us

April 26, 2011

The Resurrection is not only an event in the past; it has present implications. Easter is a sign of what God is up to in the world. The same resurrected Jesus who came back to his defeated disciples continues to come to us. This meditation is selected from my book, "Why Jesus?" (Abingdon, 2010). Happy Easter.

On Easter evening, when the disciples gathered behind the locked doors and the risen Christ came and stood among them, two of the twelve were absent. Thomas was somewhere else. Judas wasn't there either and we know why: he was mourning his own betrayal of Jesus into the hands of the authorities. Judas believed in the power of the authorities, or the power of money, or the power of revolution or something else he deemed more loveable than Jesus. (In my experience, this is the way it is with some disbelief. It's not so much that we don't believe; it's that we deeply believe that something or someone else is much more of a "god" than Jesus.)

Thomas also disbelieved. But his disbelief had a more willful tint than Judas' disbelief. Thomas told the other disciples, when he heard that Christ had appeared to them, "If I can't touch the holes in his hands and jab my fist through the wound in his side, I will not believe that the apparition that you saw was really Jesus."

The next thing you know the risen Christ reappears, telling Thomas, "Go ahead. Jab your hand in my side. Stop your unbelief and believe."

How do we know that the one who is raised from the dead is Jesus? Jesus, God crucified, has nail prints in his hands, a gaping wound in his side.

John doesn't say that Thomas took Jesus up on his offer. I like to think that he didn't. Just having Jesus compassionately reach out to his disbelief, just hearing Jesus say, "You need proof? I'll give you proof," was all Thomas needed to exclaim, "My Lord! My God!"

The Resurrection is a sign that Jesus is determined to give back the whole world to God, including you. He will stoop at nothing, even a cross, even allowing you to make a crude poke in his side, to get to you. So, if you're having trouble believing in Jesus as the Son of God, don't worry. It will come. He isn't done with you or with the world yet. The King is determined to have sway over your life. The divine Lover will stoop to anything to get what he wants. Keep looking over your shoulder. He wants you.

[Taken with permission from the Bishop's Blog, April 25, 2011. North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.]

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