The General’s Easter Message – “A late Easter”

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by General John Larsson – 

In the year 2000 Freda and I celebrated Easter twice. We first shared Good Friday and Easter Sunday with Salvationists in England, and we then traveled to Moscow—and did it all again. Christians in Russia celebrate Easter according to the calendar of the Eastern Orthodox Church—and that year Easter fell a week later.

To celebrate twice in a year the most significant of the Christian festivals was a deeply enriching experience. But it also made me think of the Apostle Thomas, the apostle for whom Easter came a week late.

Thomas was not present when in the evening of Easter Sunday the disciples were together in a room behind locked doors for fear of their enemies. Thomas did not see Jesus when he came nor did he hear him speak to the disciples. He was late for the meeting, and missed the blessing! The whole story is in John 20:24-29.

When he eventually arrived, the other disciples told him that they had seen the Lord. But Thomas did not believe them. He said: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hands into his side, I will not believe it.”

The Bible does not describe what happened the following evenings of that week. But it is quite likely that the disciples met together the next evening—Monday—to continue their rejoicing and praising of God for the resurrection of Jesus. If so, Thomas probably sat dejectedly in a corner and did not join in. It could well be that the disciples met together every night of that week, for such was their excitement. One can picture Thomas just sitting there—out of harmony with everything taking place—on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and Saturday as well. The disciples were all beside themselves with joy. But not Thomas. He refused to believe.

However, on the Sunday evening—a week after Easter Sunday—when the disciples were together and Thomas this time was with them, Jesus again came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. And then looking at Thomas he said: “Put your finger here: see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

The Lord had a personal word of reassurance for Thomas. He knew and understood the struggle of faith that Thomas had been through. And, to his everlasting credit, when Thomas saw his Lord he knelt before him and worshipped him with words of the most profound significance: “My Lord and my God.”

But Easter had come one week late for Thomas. Whilst the others had rejoiced, his heart and mind had been in turmoil. However, a week later Thomas saw the Lord with his own eyes—and believed.

Jesus continued speaking to Thomas: “Because you have seen me, you have believed,” he said. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

“I have seen the Lord,” said Mary Magdalene on Easter Sunday morning. “We have seen the Lord,” said the disciples on Easter Sunday evening. Paul recorded later that the risen Lord appeared to over five hundred of the early Christians. What a unique privilege was theirs! For what a small group they were when compared with the millions upon millions of believers who have never seen the Lord.

When Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” he was speaking about you and me. And he calls us blessed! For we are among those that believe without having seen.

Believing that the Lord is risen from the dead—without seeing—takes a step of faith. And God honors us when we take it. He does more. He gives us the presence of the Spirit of Christ in our lives and that Spirit is the most powerful confirmation we can have of his resurrection. But the initial step which must first be taken is a step by faith. The confirmation comes later.

There are plenty of Thomases around even today. They sit in their corner watching the other disciples rejoicing and praising the Lord. They feel unable to join in with the celebrations. They are crippled by unbelief. And some of them have sat watching for a very long time. Easter never seems to happen for them.

May this be an Easter of faith for you. May you experience the truth of the promise given to you personally by the risen Saviour: “Blessed are those who have not seen—and yet have believed!” And may your Easter be truly blessed.

Russell on my mind

Russell on my mind

BODY BUILDER by Terry Camsey, Major –  I have had Russell on my mind a

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A WEEK that changed THE WORLD


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