When you extract the extraordinary from the ordinary, there is nothing left that is awesome.
Thomas had lost the "awe" he had for Jesus ...
"One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he replied, 'I won't believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side'," John 20:24-25.
Thomas had absorbed the teaching of Jesus, and had witnessed Him performing amazing miracles. But now, to Thomas, Jesus had become all too human, enough to be dead and buried. There was nothing awe-inspiring or awesome about that!
E. Stanley Jones wrote in his book, "Abundant Living," the following:
"My grandchildren love to play with bubbles. We always keep some in the play cupboard at home and always carry extra with us whenever we go visit them at their home. We have small wands and big wands. We have bubble kazoos and bubble straws, bubble rings and bubble fans. All are designed to create those luminescent, glistening balls of joy that dance in the air and float on the wind. Our girls chase after them with a squealing delight that is music to our ears. But alas, in time, each spectacular sphere comes to the same end. Pricked upon a blade of grass, poked by an inquisitive finger, or burst by the heat of the sidewalk, each one pops, leaving nothing of its former brilliance but a sticky wet spot."
Human beings are kind of like those bubbles, "... each spectacular sphere comes to the same end." That end for humanity is death. Even the most remarkable among us have a date with the grave, but it was the grave that stole away Thomas' awe of Jesus. The religious leaders had stood around the cross scoffing at Jesus, saying, "He saved others but he can't save himself!" (Mt. 27:42). Perhaps Thomas was thinking too much like them.
Such was Thomas' attitude when Jesus once again appeared to his disciples. Jesus wasted no time turning His attention to Thomas ...
"Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. 'Peace be with you,' he said. Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don't be faithless any longer. Believe!'" John 20:26-27.
Thomas didn't need to do an up-close-and-personal inspection of Jesus: "'My Lord and my God!' Thomas exclaimed," John 20:28.
Thomas had regained his awe, but this time with "roots" so deep his awe for Jesus Christ would inspire the rest of his life on earth. Such awe came from a tough experience, kind of like the story Jeff Johnson tells about volunteering to help a church ...
"I once spent two weeks in Brownsville, Texas, volunteering for World Mission Builders erecting a church from the ground up. When we left, it was ready for brick on the outside and drywall inside.
"While we saved the newly planted church nearly a half a million
dollars in labor, it still was very costly work. Not only did it cost
time, it also cost a lot of pain. Hammering nails all day takes its toll
on the forearms, especially untrained forearms like mine. I had never
hammered so many nails. I hammered floor joist braces, hammered spacers
up in the rafters, hammered off the same spacers once the rafters where
supported. We were hammering all the time, and my arms ached all the time. I
even bought some BenGay at a local Walmart and rubbed it in each night.
"On the very last working day of the trip, a vendor showed up carrying
five hammers for us to try out. I just happened to be standing close
enough to receive one. It was made of titanium and looked very modern.
The rep said the hammer retails for $300. I felt very unqualified to be
the new owner of a $300 hammer and yet I couldn’t wait to bring it back
home and show it off to my family and friends. I asked the rep what made
it so special, and he explained that the design of the hammer absorbed
the shock that causes muscle fatigue. I knew that fatigue well!
"I had some final jobs to do that afternoon, and as usual they
included some hammering. So I tried out my new $300 hammer, and
immediately felt the difference. My first thought was, 'This is exactly
what I need!' My second thought was, 'Where was this two weeks ago!?
This is the last day of my mission trip, I have already been through a
bottle of Advil and half a tube of BenGay!'
"After reflecting on my work trip, I have come to appreciate exactly
how the events in Brownsville turned out. If the vendor would have shown
up on the first day and handed me the $300 hammer, I never would have
known its true worth. I certainly wouldn’t have gone home night after
night nursing my forearms. Most importantly, I would have never felt the
difference between a $30 hammer and a $300 hammer. Sometimes we need a little pain to appreciate the remedy."
For Jesus to have laid down His life on the cross as a sacrifice, and then to take it up again, rising from the grave and defeating death itself, left Thomas in such awe that he didn't have to closely inspect the scars on His Savior's body.
He regained his awe in spades!
There is nothing that can strike awe into the minds and hearts of humanity like knowing that Jesus has left behind an empty tomb. He has fully paid the sacrifice for sin, and dramatically defeated death. His pain has brought to us such heights of awe that it stirs us to praise and demands our most heartfelt worship.
An empty grave is an awesome thing, and our God is an awesome God!
As you celebrate Easter today, have you been moved with a fresh sense of awe in Jesus Christ?
Happy Resurrection Day!