I wonder how the Easter Story would’ve been different if there’d been kids in it. I don’t mean one of those “kids tell the story” things where they mispronounce stuff, combine things and throw in modern things in a really cute way that essentially tells the story we already know, more or less how we know it. (I love those, by the way. There always seems to be a moment when, in their innocence, they reveal something new to wonder at or ask a question you hadn’t thought about.) No, I mean what if there were children in the story. Or even just one child. Like a certain Thomas. Not a Doubting Thomas, a Certain one.
Before the women, before the disciples, Thomas would have been at the tomb first on Easter morning. He’d probably run there, or even skip, laughing and singing. When he got there, he looked for Jesus. I know he’s here, he thought, I’m certain of it. He probably chatted with the angel who rolled the stone away and scared off the soldiers guarding the tomb, as if conversations with angels were an everyday thing. And when the women arrived, he wondered why they’re still sad. I was certain you’d be happy today, he said. They told him that they’re sad because Jesus is dead and he laughed and said no, he’s not. They thought he was delusional or, at least, naive. He’s a kid, after all. They probably scolded him for being silly. But he said he’d be alive, I’m certain of it, Thomas said.
They began to scold him again, but then they notice the stone rolled away and the angel. And the angel told them, “he is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.” (Matt. 28:6) The angel told them to go and tell the disciples and they headed off “with fear and great joy,” because, wow, an angel told them and that doesn’t happen every day. Maybe not to adults, thought Thomas, who was just a little irritated for moment. You didn’t believe me, but you believed an angel. Oh well, I guess you didn’t believe Jesus, either. He said he’d be back.
Then the women saw Jesus “and they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.” (Matt. 28:9) And Thomas said, oh there you are Jesus, I knew you’d be here somewhere, and he gave him a hug. Jesus smiled at Thomas and then he said to the women, “do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matt. 28:10)
When the women left, Thomas flopped down next to Jesus and said I’m glad you’re back, Jesus. I mean, I knew you would be ‘cause you said so, but that business last week was nasty. I could tell they were hurting you. You okay? Why’d you have to do that?
Well, said Jesus, it’s like this. I just want people to come back to God, to be close to God. People are going to think about my death a lot and they’re going to think different things about it and they’re going to come up with reasons for it. And that’s okay. Mostly. But I’d just like them to remember my life. See, when folks get older, they start to have trouble believing things. The more life they have, the more they start to think things are complicated and they need proof before they’ll do something. They need to see something to believe it.
Oh, Thomas said, you mean like that time you got mad at those people who kept asking you to do more miracles, instead of just hearing what you were saying and believing you?
Well, kind of, said Jesus. I was hoping that if I showed people how to love and care for each other, they’d see that and want to live that way too. And then they’d really be able to see all the good that’s already in each of us. They’d see that God really is here, we just don’t always make the right choices to see God and share God with each other.
But I believed you, Jesus, Thomas said earnestly. And I know lots of kids who did and there were some adults, too.
Some people find it easier to believe than others, said Jesus. I don’t know why, they just seem more open. Like a kid. He smiled and hugged Thomas. Like I always tell people, you need to come at it like a kid. It’s simple.
But why did you need to be hurt, asked Thomas. Why did you need to die and then be alive again?
Well, like I said, it’s complicated, Jesus sighed. But here’s the thing: because I’m alive again, just for a short time, I get to say “I told you so.”
What? said Thomas. My mom says that’s not helpful when I say that to my brother and sister.
No, no, Jesus said, I mean really, truly, what I said can be believed because God helped me do this, this giving up my life and coming back to be alive again – just like I said I would. I’m going to visit people in the next little while and remind them of all the things I taught, all the things I showed people, all the love that we can all share. I’m going to remind them that we can all live so well together, really live, just as God intended. And they’re going to have to tell people, too, because I won’t be here long. I do have to go home to be with God.
But…, began Thomas.
It’s okay, Thomas, said Jesus. We only get to be here for as long as we need to be, and I’ve done what I need to. We’re all different and you have lots to do, yet, believe me.
I hope so, Jesus, said Thomas.
I know so, said Jesus and he smiled. Now others might, too, because …
Thomas smiled, too. You’re alive.