Acts 5. 27 – 32

John 20. 19 – 31

Fr Alex


“Christianity is the belief that one God created a universe 13.79 billion years old, 93 billion light years in diameter, consisting of over 200 billion galaxies, each galaxy containing an average of 200 billion stars, only to have a personal relationship with you.”

It sounds rather lovely, doesn’t it.  But believe it or not this was posted on Twitter some time ago by an atheist group!  It spoke to them of how ridiculous it is to believe.

But it speaks to us, as Christians, right into the heart of our faith.  Because this is the very thing that St John reveals to us through the course of his Gospel, and in the resurrection appearances we read last week and just now.

The very first words of his Gospel, that wonderful Prologue, tell us that Jesus, the incarnate Word of God, was there in God in the very beginning.  Before all those billions of galaxies were formed all those billions of years ago.  Jesus in God was part of that outpouring of creation.

At Christmas we celebrated that this same God that exists throughout time and the cosmos, came right down into the midst of his creation as one of us, in a specific time and place.  Born of a human woman, dependent on her for survival.

And last week, on Easter Day, we heard of his first appearance after his resurrection.  After conquering death, opening the way to eternal life in God for all: the same God shows himself in the most intimate way.  By saying Mary’s name.

It’s only when he says her name that she recognises who he is.  It’s in the closeness of personal relationship that Jesus makes himself known to her, and the new and glorious life of Easter is made open to her.

This is what makes our faith so compelling.  That God who created and creates so much that our minds can’t even comprehend anything like the vastness of it … wants to know us, to come close to us, and bring us closer to himself.

But before we get too carried away, we need to take seriously the challenge posted by the atheists of Twitter.  To believe all of this, to enter into this new resurrection life, requires faith.  And that can be really hard.

And that’s where today’s appearance of Jesus is so important.  Because it shows us that Jesus takes our doubts seriously.  That it’s ok to struggle.  We heard on Maundy Thursday how Jesus struggled in Gethsemane; he shared our doubts, and our fears.


And in today’s passage he comes so close to the disciples in their fear, and so close to Thomas in his doubt.  He comes back specially just to reassure him.

We don’t have the risen Christ standing next to us.  We can’t put our hands on the marks of his wounds.

But we don’t need to.  The resurrection wasn’t some conjuring trick, a circus act to be shown to long queues of doubting punters for all time.

When Christ was raised from the dead, when he ascended into heaven, he ceased being in one specific place at one specific time, and went into all times and into all places; returning into the creating and all-encompassing love of God.

And he sent us the Holy Spirit, to guide us, and comfort us, and sustain us; to show us that we are not left alone to doubt and fear.

And before he died, he gave us a way to come close to him, to deepen that relationship with us that he longs for: in the Eucharist.  We meet with the risen Christ in bread and wine, just as surely as Mary did in the garden, and the disciples did in the locked house.

All that is required of us is to believe.  To have faith – even just the beginnings of unsure, doubting faith, like Thomas – and be willing to open ourselves up to that relationship that he calls us into.  Into the new life of Easter.

This is the reason St John was called to share his Gospel.  He ends by saying “these [signs] are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

So let us pray for faith that we too may believe, and have life.

Risen Christ, for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred: open the doors of our hearts; accept our doubts, heal us of our need for certainty, and draw us ever closer to yourself, that we may truly love you and know your love for us; and through that love, may share in your resurrection life.  Amen.