In chapter 20, there is an article on the "resurrection," which is of central significance to Christianity.
This time, I would like to focus on two people who appear in this scene. One is Mary Magdalene, who first met the resurrected Lord, and the other is the disciple, Thomas.
In verse 1, "on the first day of the week" refers to Sunday morning, the third day after Jesus' death. While it was still dimly lit, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb where Jesus was buried. The other Gospels indicate that two other women were with Mary Magdalene. These women were with Jesus throughout his crucifixion and burial in the tomb. It was this Mary Magdalene, not the disciples, to whom Jesus first revealed himself after his resurrection. What an honor and supreme joy it must have been for her!
First of all, you might be interested in what kind of person Mary Magdalene was, but there are many interpretations and it has not been settled.
However, what the four Gospels clearly say about Mary Magdalene is that she was the woman from whom seven demons were cast out by Jesus. In Mark 7, On the other hand, a "sinful woman," or prostitute, is identified as Mary Magdalene, who is said to have shed tears on Jesus' feet and anointed him with the perfume of Nard. In the Gospel of John, it is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, who anointed Jesus. This was after Jesus had resurrected Lazarus in Bethany. Some say that Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany were the same people, others say they were not.
At least four Marys are mentioned in the Bible: Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany (the brother of Martha and Lazarus), and Mary, the wife of Clopas.
Like the disciples, Mary had no idea that Jesus would resurrect. However, there came a time when she recognized Jesus. In verse 16, "Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”)
The person of Jesus had the great mission of saving mankind, but at the same time, this scene also teaches us that He is the one who intimately faces individuals like you and me.But the question is in verse 9: "(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) "
Jesus must have told His disciples everything that was going to happen (including His resurrection). And why did the disciples run away when they had witnessed the miracle that raised Lazarus from the dead?
As verse 18 says, "Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. This is what Jesus said to her. How did the disciples feel when they got the report? I believe they felt guilt and regret having betrayed Jesus. At the same time, they were asking, "Why did he appear first to Mary Magdalene?" They may have been feeling down.
However, Jesus must have been fully aware of these disciples' feelings.
In verse 19, Jesus first said, "Peace be with you!”
Jesus also showed them the wounds on His hands and abdomen, indicating that Jesus was not a ghost, but a physical being, just as he had been before the cross. What deep thoughtfulness!
Of course, since Jesus came through a locked door, it may have been a little different from His physical body before the cross.
However, other gospels also mention that the resurrected Lord ate with the disciples, so I believe this to mean that Jesus was resurrected in the flesh. Then, after verse 21, he reminded them anew of their mission and gave them courage.
Now, let's turn to Thomas.
He is sometimes called "Thomas the Doubter" or "Thomas the Unbeliever" because of his episode of not immediately believing in Jesus' resurrection.
We don't know why Thomas was not there, but in verse 25, "So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Eight days later, Jesus appeared to the disciples again. Thomas was there, too, and as Thomas wished, the Lord said in verse 27, "Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
And from verse 21, He reminded them anew of their mission and gave them courage.
I believe that these very words speak to us today.
Thomas knew Christ and believed that his life would be meaningful, but he stepped forward to focus on "entrusting" his life to the salvation of the cross.
The discipleship "failure" of not believing did not end up as a stain, but rather, this conversion was what led Thomas to a true encounter with the Savior, wasn't it?
I have told you that once when Michio and I were doing 6 months of community palliative care in Kerala, South India, we went to see a rock where Thomas had landed.
According to tradition, Thomas went to India as a missionary, and he was martyred by being speared by pagans in South India.
Thomas is respected as one of the saints in the Catholic Church.
We are disappointed in ourselves sometimes. There are also times when our hearts are closed due to fear and uncertainty about the future. Like the disciples, there are times when we want to lock the door and shut ourselves in. On the other hand, there are times when we want to go out but cannot do so freely, and we have to live our days with a sense of entrapment, as is the case today.
The people of Ukraine today are also suffering from the ravages of war, which threaten their lives.
But let us have the confidence of hope in the fact that the resurrected Jesus said, "Peace be with you".
Some people say that all I can do is to pray for peace."
I would like to say how important this prayer is.
And prayer can be done by anyone, anywhere.
It is necessary for people all over the world to earnestly recite the prayer for peace.
Jesus reminded His disciples to live a new mission.
From then on, their lives were not lives of “verbal " peace.
They walked a difficult path. They experienced persecution and destitution.
They would shed tears again, and they felt fear. But they were no longer the same people they were before they met the resurrected Lord Jesus.
We do not know what will happen tomorrow.
But whatever the day, whatever the future brings, Jesus can wipe our tears away and give us peace!
We are pleased to be associated with Hunger Zero (Japan Organization Against Hunger). I am a member of "Olive Association", a group of Christian politicians who pray for each other, chaired by Mr. Shibahashi, the mayor of Gifu prefecture and one of the members. Mr. Kondo, Mr. Shin, and Mr. Jerome, the General Director of Hunger Zero, left for Poland on March 21 as an emergency relief team. This was the first of these teams that were dispatched to the site. We are very grateful for the many fundraising efforts being made throughout the country. We pray for God's blessing on the work of each of them.
If you are interested in donating, or if you have already done so but would like to give support again, I am preparing to support Hunger Zero's Ukraine relief fundraising efforts.
As with the Tonga undersea explosion donation, I will be responsible for sending the money to Hunger Zero and reporting back to you.
I have heard that it is difficult for a Japan Post Bank account to handle small amounts of money, so I will collect the money and send it in bills. My account is as follows. I will also be collecting donations on the street in Kushimoto-cho, so I would like to ask for your help at that time as well. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
The deadline for the fundraising campaign is May 31.