Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mary Sees Jesus and Doubting Thomas

Today I read John 20, which is the story of the resurrection of Jesus. Essentially everything John brings up is new to us and we have not read before. John records that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb on Sunday, the first day of the week, after the Sabbath and found 2 angels on the stone. John does not record any other women with Mary, just mentions her. In John's version the angels do not speak to her, but rather she sees the empty tomb and runs to tell the Apostles. John and Peter then run to the sepulcher.

John outruns Peter but does not go in at first. Rather he just leans down and looks inside. He sees that the burial clothes are nice and neatly folded and John records that it was then he believed. I think it was Elder Jeffrey R. Holland who stated that he thought the reason John believed when he saw the burial clothes is because if it were grave robbers they would not take the time to fold the burial clothes nice and neat and the facial napkin in a separate pile. And truly they would not, it lends a lot of weight to what Mary and the other women had told them.

I have often wondered on just why the Apostles had so much trouble believing each other after all they had seen and heard over the past 3 years. I mean, at first Mary just tells the Apostles that she saw 2 angels who told her that the Savior is risen and that indeed the chamber is empty. But then she sees Him with her own eyes, and if the JST is to be believed, even hugs Him! The part I am referring to is when Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and asks her why she is crying. She thinking Him to be the gardener asks Him where He has taken the body and she will come and take it. Jesus says her name and her eyes are opened. Quite naturally she runs to Him with the intent to hug Him. The King James Version of the Bible seems as if she does not get the chance because He asks her not to touch Him. However, the Joseph Smith Translation changes touch to hold so that He actually says "Hold me not". This indicates to me that Jesus let her hug Him in relief but could not stay. It would almost be the equivalent of saying I can't stay long in our modern day culture. At least that is how I have always looked at it.

I have wondered just what the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene was that Jesus chose her to appear to first and even let her hug Him. Some have theorized that she was Jesus' wife although there is no evidence of this being the case anywhere. Luke tells us that Mary had seven devils inside of her that Jesus cast out, but we do not hear much else about her. We will not know if there was more to their relationship than disciple and Master and perhaps even friendship, until we meet the Savior again in person and can ask Him. But whatever the reason Mary sees and hugs the Savior and the Apostles do not believe her.

It is, perhaps, understandable why the 11 do not believe Mary as she is just a single witness. But what gets me, is when the 10 see Him and Thomas does not believe them. That is almost incomprehensible to me. Unless the Apostles were a LOT more lighthearted than I have always given them credit for and were in reality pranksters always playing jokes on each other, there is no reason that Thomas should have not believed them when they told him that they had seen the Lord. And yet he doesn't, earning him a nickname that would forever live on in infamy, Doubting Thomas. It is sad that such a man would be forever saddled with this title because of one moment of weakness. This is the same Thomas that when Jesus came up to Bethany to see Lazarus and all the other Apostles tried to talk Jesus out of going, Thomas said to the others that they should all go with Jesus and if it so be that they die, they would die with Him. What faith and love! But despite that love and faith, Thomas doubts the testimony of what is most likely, his 10 best friends in all the world. However, once he does in fact see the resurrected Savior he believes.

The Savior commends Thomas for believing but tells him that those who have not seen but believe are even more blessed. That has always made me feel good about myself because we fall into that category. We have not seen the Savior, at least I have not, but we believe that He is risen and conquered death. We shall see Him someday and see the prints in His hands and feet, but it should not be a revelation to us at that point. In my mind it should be more like seeing an old friend again after many years of separation. What a day that will be! I look forward to it as much as anything else in this world. I hope you do as well. Until tomorrow.

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