26 After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!”
28 Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.”
30 Then Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. 31 But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name. John 20:26-31, CEB
After teaching his disciples for 3 years and causing a stir with various people groups, Jesus is sent to the cross to die. Nobody really quite knew what to charge him with, but there were enough people that wanted him dead that they found a way to make that happen. As it turns out, even death couldn’t hold Jesus down and he eventually appears to his disciples to let them know that his plans haven’t been thwarted. In fact, even this was part of the plan.
As much as I’ve studied, I have to admit I don’t fully understand all the mechanics of Jesus’ life and death. Sometimes his death is talked about as a final sacrifice. This was language that was familiar to people at that time. They were used to making sacrifices of animals to deal with their sin. That was the system that was in place. That’s why Jesus is often referred to as the lamb, for instance. God committed the ultimate sacrificial act, essentially, in order to permanently deal with sin. And we’re not just talking about individual sins here, we’re talking about the fact that all of creation has gone astray and run amock.
This is an act of freedom. We are released from bondage and free to live our lives knowing that, while our calling has not changed, we no longer need such an overwhelming focus on our missteps. It doesn’t mean they don’t matter and we don’t deal with them, but they’re dealt with in entirely new ways.
Here’s how we might sum up the story to this point. God’s plan has always been to redeem and restore creation. For a while, the plan for redemption and restoration involved a lot of ritual and sacrifice as a central part of a gracious, loving, and merciful life. God always had a relationship with his people that was first and foremost based on grace. And, he used Israel to reveal himself to the world. But that wasn’t the full plan. He brought Jesus to clarify the picture even further about who God is. At the same time, he makes a more obvious invitation to the rest of the world to receive and experience both forgiveness and inclusion into God’s people.