Editor’s note: In a new Theolog endeavor we’ve asked Walter
Brueggemann to share some talking points on the Sunday lectionary for
the next six weeks. These are meant to be the sort of observation one
member of a lectionary group might make to another, or fodder for
thinking and reading in advance of Sunday.
"We are witnesses to these things," said Peter. Yet as the gospel for the second Sunday of Easter opens, "these things" do not include Jesus' resurrection. That morning Peter had seen an empty tomb with some scattered linens. He had witnessed absence, not resurrection. At that point, he had not even witnessed Jesus' death—he had missed his chance. Yet soon Peter becomes one of the boldest and most powerful of witnesses to Jesus' message, death and resurrection. Clearly something happened.
Hey you! Don’t even think of parking that sermon near this playground! Take your Doubting-Thomas-Mobile to some other lot. Don’t even wait here with your motor running. OK—maybe it sounds like I don’t have a life. But Bible people are real to me. And my relationships with them change as I mature, just as you come to appreciate relatives at family reunions.
When I was in grad school, my family moved into an apartment in South Chicago. When we saw that the door of the apartment had four locks, we wondered why we needed so many. I soon discovered that the benefit was mostly emotional. When we got inside at night, after being worried about whatever, we could shut the door on the world and turn lots of little levers. “Click, click, click.” I think of that door when I’m listening to people describe how they cope with their fears.
So where was Thomas anyway that first Easter evening? In my childhood Sunday school classes, Thomas was a “bad guy.” When the other ten disciples told him that Jesus was alive after his crucifixion, Thomas refused to believe it. He separated himself from the others and demanded to see Christ for himself.