"Thomas answered and said, 'My Lord and my God!'"--John 20:28
Many of you, like me, have bought a gift for a child or grandchild and noticed those dreaded words, "Some assembly required." In the past, "some assembly required" meant someone would stay up half of the night, follow carefully detailed instructions and never quite figure out where dozens of extra pieces should have gone. Today, the first challenge is to find the instructions in English among the seven or eight languages included, and then to follow those instructions to disassemble the parts from the packaging that had to survive the journey around the world in shipping containers. Then and only then can you begin the joyful task of assembly. Yes, assembly is required.
God may not have clearly labeled Christmas and Easter as "response required," but a definite response is demanded by these history-changing events. At Christmas, we see many people act decisively around the birth of Jesus. King Herrod was terribly upset and all of Jerusalem with him. He eventually murdered all boys 2 years old and under in the Judean area. Joseph took Mary to be his wife and became the stepfather of Jesus. The shepherds left their flocks in the fields and came to the manger to worship Jesus. The wise men traveled for over two years to bring gifts and homage to Jesus. These were all decisive and radical actions.
The passion, death and resurrection of Jesus are no different. The religious leaders were very eager to remove Jesus. The disciples and Peter believed Jesus to be God's Messiah and left all to follow Him. People hated Jesus or people loved Him. A definite response was required. The one choice that was not available was to do nothing. Jesus Himself said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34).
There are some events in life that demand a response. A child is born whether it be the Christ or a child of your own. A response is required. A man claims to be the Son of God, dies on the cross for our sins, and rises again on the third day. Some response is required. Whether we believe He is crazy, a liar or that Jesus is who He says He is, the Son of God, we must respond.
Thomas was not present on Easter morning with the rest of the disciples when Jesus appeared to them. When they told him that Jesus was alive, he refused to believe. He did not say or do nothing. Thomas very forcefully refused to believe until he personally saw Jesus. Upon seeing Jesus a week later, Thomas examined the holes in Jesus' hands and side and confessed, "My Lord and my God!" What an appropriate response to the resurrection of Jesus. Thomas confessed Jesus as the one and only Son of God. Only God's Son could rise again from the grave. Only the Son of God could heal the sick and resurrect the dead. Only God's Son can save us from our sins.
Thomas did something further — he confessed Jesus as Lord. Lord here does not merely mean sir; Lord means, “Jesus, You are the leader and boss of my life. Where you tell me to go, I will go. What you tell me to do, I will do, no questions asked.”
If Jesus came to earth, died on a cross, and rose from the dead for each of us, we must respond. Doing nothing just doesn't work. When asked by Pilate, "What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" the Jewish leaders replied, "Let Him be crucified" (Matthew 27:22). While this may be the wrong response, at least it's a definite response. How has Easter affected your life? What life changing response have you made because of God's love demonstrated to you in Jesus? Easter demands a response. What's yours?
(Randy Bain is the senior pastor of Oakland UM Church located at 1504 Bedford Street Johnstown. You may reach him through the church website, www.oaklandumc.com.)