During the 50 days of Easter, the story would’ve spread like wildfire. And not everyone would’ve told it the same way. Someone would have told a story of one formerly outcast woman going to the tomb by herself, determined to complete the burial rites and then if necessary, to carry his body away all by herself and re-bury him someplace safe. Another story would have had a group of the women who were his disciples coming together to do right by the one they love for his sake and for the sake of his mother. And then there would be the men who say that they were there first and nobody saw them because they ran to tell their brothers. There would be so many stories but they would all agree on this point: He lives!
Thomas was not alone and being afraid to trust the hope that the stories might be true. He was there, for a while anyway. No one who has seen it can forget the sights, sounds and smells of crucifixion: the blood, the tears, the sweat, hammering and cursing, the sound of flesh tearing, the feces and urine released by dying bodies. Thomas was not alone struggling with these incredible stories, hoping they were credible yet fearing they could not possibly be. After all, Jesus spends 40 days visiting his disciples and showing himself, presenting himself, to them. Struggling to believe a miracle is no sin. And Thomas does not deserve the ridicule heaped upon him or all the bad preaching at his expense.
In the report of Jesus visiting his disciples during this period there is so much room for the sanctified imagination of black church preaching. I can see him walking through walls and closed doors as he has in other reports. Stopping by for a meal as he has elsewhere. Maybe some lamb this time. In these visits with anonymous disciples I see Jesus visiting the women whose names are missing or muddled. There would be teaching; Jesus would tell them of the glories to come, ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and her power, soon come. There would be love and laughter. And it would be over all too soon. And then he would be off to another home, heart and, heart. And they too would proclaim with certainty, “Christ has risen from the dead just as he said.”