A Dirty Rotten Doubter and a Touchable Jesus (My Redeemer Lives 2:2)

Don’t you just hate it when someone defines you by one action  —

that one time you were mean in junior high,

the forgotten birthday your sibling won’t let you forget,

the time you got that speeding ticket…or three.

That last one might just be me.

No one loves a label, particularly one with a negative connotation, and especially one that just won’t die.

In this way we can completely relate to Thomas. How would you like to be remembered in infamy as the Doubter, with Doubting always added as a catchy pre-fix to your name?

Before we define Thomas by one passage of Scripture in John 20, let’s preface our post-resurrection-Thomas reading with less famous passages in which he makes his appearance.

In John 11:16, following the resurrection of Lazarus, Thomas proclaims his absolute willingness to die with Jesus:

So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” 

In John 14:5-6, Thomas asks questions of Jesus, to understand and know His teacher, His Savior more, a clear mark of discipleship:

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

When my husband showed me these verses, my heart became tender toward Thomas. He seems a little like an all-in or all-out kind of person, something I lend toward myself. However, it’s not how I see Thomas that matters, but how Jesus sees Thomas, and in our famous “Doubting” Thomas passage in John 20, Jesus makes His thoughts and His grace quite clear for our Doubter.

Read John 20:19-29 –

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Let’s put the emphasis here where it belongs: on Christ, rather than Thomas, so we can see Thomas for who Christ sees Thomas to be.

Jesus reaches in.

He reaches into Thomas’s questions.

He reaches into Thomas’s stubbornness.

He reaches into Thomas’s failure.

The Risen Christ gives Thomas the same gift He gave everyone else, despite his doubts. He offers him confession and forgiveness, new eyes, and a new heart.

I’m especially struck by the direct translation of the Greek for John 20:27:

“Bring the finger of you here, and see the hands of me, and bring the hand of you, and put (it) into the side of me.”

The timbre of it gives attention to the intimacy Jesus offered in response to Thomas’s proclamation that he would “never believe” unless he saw the marks and placed his hands in Jesus’ side.

Jesus takes the time and effort to address our fears and our failures. He doesn’t leave Thomas in shame. He offers the very thing Thomas says he needs. Now, this doesn’t always happen. When we ask for a sign, that doesn’t mean we’ll get it…or does it? Look further down in John Chapter 20 to find the answer.

John 20:30-31 –

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 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.

These are written, Thomas’s story is written as a sign for us. The Word of Life, the entirety of Scripture is the Sign for us. In fact, the signs are so many, so full that they can’t all be recorded in Scripture. He writes them in our lives and on our hearts.
We are all Thomases…Dirty Doubters, but we have a Touchable Savior.
Our Risen Savior comes into our lives and into our homes in His Word, answering questions, giving signs of Who He is and What He does for us every day. That same confession and forgiveness He offered Thomas is what defines us through the Resurrection of Jesus.
Thomas – Touched by Jesus….that’s his real name and how we are blessed to remember him.
Leave your name in the comments below, like my example here, write it large on a paper to remind yourself, and/or write it on your hand with an eyeliner or a marker. Let’s proclaim the Resurrection’s grace in our lives together.

I am Heidi – Touched by Jesus

Death, Rebirth, and Growing Like Weeds (My Redeemer Lives 1:4)

We aren’t the only things in this universe that die and rise.


As egocentric as we like to be, myself included, there is a whole world out there functioning quite unaware of any of us.

I’m reminded of hunting season. My husband is a bow hunter. He spends great time and care prepping himself to “enter the woods.” The woods is the domain of the deer. He might have dominion, but if he’d like to catch one for dinner, he needs to respect their domain. He uses special scent free shampoo, wears this camouflage suit with only his eyes peeking out, and virtually tip toes to his tree stand.

Nature is doing it’s thing, mostly unaware of us, until we make it aware. Just like us, every living thing has a life cycle. Jesus uses this life cycle in John 12 to teach us about life, death, risk, and eternal reward.

Pleas read John 12:20-26 –

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

People want to see Jesus (verse 20), obviously that’s the most important thing! If people want to see you, if your phone notifies you of a call or a text or a message, do you feel pulled to answer?

Jesus did not (see John 12:36 for confirmation). Instead, he tells a story about a seed. I think Jesus’s message is two-fold here.

First, He is prophesying of His own death and resurrection. The preceding verses are of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the beginning of Holy Week. The verses that follow immediately after those we read continue to speak of the necessity of the cross, the grave, and an empty tomb. All of John 12 is a powerful testimony of what is to come for Jesus and the power He holds over life and death.

Secondary, however, I believe is a parable about our lives. You see, each of us are seeds, planted by the Sower. In this parable the Greek for earth is from the root word gé, meaning earth, land, or soil. It is related to the Hebrew term for earth, asitía, a broader term connected to God. Earth is seen by way of this term as “God’s physical theater, God’s arena.” 

We are in God’s hands, living His story, whether we know it or not. Unlike the deer, God is fully aware of our entries, our exits, and our treading on His soil.

The seed doesn’t go into the soil to tuck itself into a dark and safe place. We weren’t meant to live and die alone. The seed goes into the soil and is planted for a purpose. It dies to its former life, it gives up its identity as seed, relinquishing power to the sun, the rain, the soil to be reborn. We are reborn in baptism. The Spirit comes in with Its nutrients, living moisture, sunlight for our souls, and we grow. We can muscle against all of this or let Him fully in. We can get wrapped up in how it’s all going to turn out, or trust the Sower with the process.

Commentator Matthew Henry puts it like this –

“…let us beg Him to make us indifferent to the trifling concerns of life. ”

Forget the planting, the dying to self, whether the rain falls, cloudy days or sunny days, and let’s live boldly for eternity. This space and time in dark soil or bright sunlight is so temporary.

God makes each day eternally significant.

We die and we rise in Him, for Him, and only through Him.

Seed to soil, sun to seed, today to tomorrow.

Life, death, and more Life. That is our resurrection reality.

How can we live it boldly? Tell us in the comments or join the conversation on social media. Bold resurrection death and bold resurrection life – how do you see them lived out each day in yourself and others?




Life in the middle of death (My Redeemer Lives 1:3)

When I was young, my grandfather died. It was confusing and hard complicated by still being a child, not-quite an adolescent yet. This left fully aware of what was happening, but on the edge of every adult conversation, never pulled into the discussion.

What I remember though was my sisters and I keeping company in the basement of the funeral home in our pretty dresses, braiding each other’s hair and playing cards with our cousins. There was a lot of food. After the funeral we hung out in my aunt’s basement, played ping pong and ate summer sausage, chips with onion dip, throwing back orange soda pop and laughing our heads off as two of my cousins snapped rubber bands at one another and faked painful reactions. I think my grandpa wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

How often is life found in the middle of death?

How often in our grief do we find friendship and understanding. It isn’t uncommon for families spread wide to sit for a moment and recall memories of a life well lived or of a God who keeps working despite our obvious flaws?

Christ’s death is no different. There is sorrow, yes. There is darkness, yes. But God Himself brings Life into the midst of the death of His Beloved Son.

Read Matthew  27:50-54. While you read, look for the surprising references to Life in the middle of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ –

 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

If you look closely, you’ll see more than one nod to Life in this account of heartbreaking death and sacrifice, but let’s focus on the most obvious today. Jesus dies. He literally gives His Spirit over to death. It’s notable, as we learned in yesterday’s study that death doesn’t rule Jesus. Jesus uses death for His plan. He subjects Himself to it for a purpose – eternal Life.

Look closer – in the middle of this rock-splitting, women weeping, head turning moment of darkness and death, God the Father inserts, by Matthew’s pen…resurrection.

Read Matthew 27:52-53 again:

The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

This account tells us that the resurrected saints (those who died in belief of the coming Messiah, of Jesus) came out of the tombs after Christ Himself was raised. Notice, though, that the record of these resurrections is given to the reader in the middle of the Good Friday account, not waiting for Easter sunlight to break into the story.

Lots of people were raised with Jesus. Not just one guy, not a couple – many bodies. We’ll hear their story in later weeks. For this week, let’s just sit in the middle and ponder how much God cares about it.

God gives hope wherever He is found. He knows life and death are intrinsically linked. He doesn’t ignore that in the ways we do. God brings celebrations to our funerals through Christ Jesus. He brings gifts of joy in the middle of our mourning. This turns the way we think of death and life on its ear. Jesus gives us insight into this when he speaks to a group known as the Sadducees earlier in Matthew 22:23-33 –

23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”

29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching. (emphasis added)

Even in the middle of death, He is God of the Living.

This is nothing less than astonishing. Believers are raised and we are reminded of His Hope in the middle. He reveals things slowly to us over time, but he also never leaves out what we need in this moment.

What a gift that is!

Today, let Life infiltrate wherever you see and hear death. Praise God for Who He is and all He does. When you hear a news report, or consider your own memories of death and life, remember that He is God over all and He brings Life to the strangest places.