Saturday, January 13, 2024

Monday, December 12, 2022

CrossTalk: The Word became flesh to restore the Truth

Last week’s release of the “Twitter Files” is only the latest exposure of the countless lies that darken out world. Similar revelations have shaken our confidence in media, government, education, and medicine. Each individual falsehood undermines our confidence in the next claim that we hear. It is confusing and troubling. Many have come to doubt that we can know the truth at all.

That is a tragedy on two fronts—the personal, and the divine. Any loss of confidence in the words we hear from other people makes meaningful relationships impossible. Lies isolate us and make us feel totally alone in a disorientating vortex of competing claims. 

Worse, when we give up hope in the existence of truth at all, we can have no relationship with Jesus who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). Faith in God is more than a vague positive feeling. We trust in Jesus only to the extent that we have confidence in the Truth that He speaks.

God’s commandment, “Thou shalt not give false testimony,” boomed forth from Mt. Sinai to battle both evils. What should you do in a world permeated by lies? God says: Don’t tell any, yourself! Don’t tell them for financial gain. Don’t tell them to preserve your reputation. Don’t tell them to go along with the crowd. Absolutely refuse to contribute even one more lie to the cacophony.

Your personal resolve to speak only truth will have two effects on your own well-being. First, it will give you practical training in how to discern between truth and lies. As you train your mouth to speak truth, your mind will grow more and more discerning. Second, by being a personal purveyor of the truth, you daily prove to yourself that truth does, indeed, exist. This counters the crippling, nihilistic notion that there is no such thing as truth.

Both the certainty that truth exists, and your own ability to discern it, will strengthen your faith in others and in God. Remembering your own personal efforts to speak the truth, you can more easily believe that your spouse, child, friend, or acquaintance is desiring and capable of speaking truth to you. And your ability to discern falsehood will also chase away unfounded doubts.

As you apply these lessons to God, you will grow in the added conviction that He is perfect both in willing to tell you the truth, and in His ability to do so. Banish the thought that Truth does not exist! Also banish the thought that you would have no way of knowing it, even if it did!

Even though God is so utterly transcendent that we could never rise to know Him, He is also all-powerful and fully capable of coming down to us. That is what Christmas is all about. When the transcendent and unapproachable God was born in Bethlehem, He brought the Truth with Him. We have it in His Holy Word.

The same Moses whom God used to bring us the Ten Commandments also brought God’s promise: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you [Moses] from among their brothers. And I will put my words in His [Jesus’] mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command Him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18).

This promise was fulfilled when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). 

In Christ God has chased away every lie and restored our ability to know the truth. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 5, 2022

A Statement from the Wyoming District of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

God created man as male and female and instituted marriage as the lifelong conjugal union of one man and one woman. By this design for mankind God continues to create the fruit of children, gives companionship in marriage and family, and provides help against lustful desires. God gave marriage to be the fountainhead of goods that He intends for all children and adults, for all communities, and for all churches.

These truths about marriage are not private religious opinions. The Biblical teachings on marriage are taught by nature itself. They have no particular traditional, national, ethnic, or cultural character to them. They are universal truths. They apply to all people of all places and all times. They are the foundation and source of all just civil laws for marriage and family. Every legitimate government is bound by God to promote and defend them.

H.R. 8404, “An Act to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act,” rejects this foundation for just and good laws. It proposes to repeal “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” to replace God with government and His laws with unnatural laws. It requires that lies about man’s nature and about marriage be  established with favored legal status.

All legislators who voted for H.R. 8404 have publicly repudiated the works and will of the one true God. By this legislative action they have established a favored, secular religion which is openly set against the Holy Triune God. They have rejected God as the only source of just laws, that is, of justice, goodness, beauty, and every civil good. Legislators who claim that Christian doctrine permits or even requires the passage of H.R. 8404 have compounded a sinful vote with a false confession.

The governmental establishment of an unnatural, unbiblical definition of marriage does not obligate Christians to give it any faith or credence. Christian love does not permit us to live a lie. All Christians are called to confess the truth of marriage even if this law brings down civil and financial penalties on them. “We must obey God rather than men.” By upholding the lifelong, conjugal union of one man and one woman we defend God’s plan for protecting people from the loneliness, pain, and other evils that follow from the destruction of the family.

God the Father sent His Son to be born of a woman within a marriage, to be born under His eternal law. By His crucifixion and resurrection He obtained eternal redemption and life for all. The Church rejoices with every Christian that Jesus offers this redemption and this healing as an answer to all evil,  loneliness, and pain. We bring the good news to every sinner that Jesus invites you into the true family of God through faith in Him.

We acknowledge that the passage of H.R. 8404 will give the enemies of Christ the legal means to afflict faithful Christians and churches with many evils. Yet by God’s grace in Christ we will continue to  proclaim God’s truth, live according to God’s Word, love all our neighbors as God teaches, and bear the malice of others with fortitude. For we have a never-ending source of comfort and hope in God our Savior. God teaches us to strengthen one another’s hearts to have hope “through the endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures” (Romans 15:5). Jesus Himself bids us “rejoice and be exceeding glad” when we are persecuted for the truth of Christ (Matthew 5:12). And He says, “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). God grant us peaceful hearts, cheerful minds, and bold courage to speak and live according to His Word.

In Christ’s name,

Pastors of the Wyoming District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Rev. John E. Hill, President, Wyoming District LCMS
Rev. Paul Cain, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, WY, 1st Vice-President
Rev. Jonathan Lange, Our Saviour and St. Paul’s Lutheran Churches, Evanston and Kemmerer, WY, 2nd Vice-President
Rev. Allen Strawn, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Bridgeport, NE, 3rd Vice President
Rev. John Preus, Trinity Lutheran Church, Cheyenne, WY
Rev. Travis Berg, Trinity Lutheran Church, Cheyenne, WY
Rev. Kevin Rose, Peace and Our Savior’s Lutheran Churches, Marbleton and Pinedale, WY
Rev. Travis Sherman, Grace Lutheran Church, Gordon, NE
Rev. Mark Maas, King of Glory Lutheran Church, Cheyenne, WY
Rev. Rene Castillero, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, WY
Rev. Norman Wacker, Bethlehem and Mount Calvary Lutheran Churches, Moorcroft and Sundance, WY
Rev. Paul Beyer, Emeritus, Casper, WY
Rev. Jais Tinglund, Zion and Grace Lutheran Churches, Emblem and Greybull, WY
Rev. Zachary Viggers, Trinity Lutheran Church, Gillette, WY
Rev. Jared Korb, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Worland, WY
Rev. Mark Preus, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Campus Center, Laramie, WY
Rev. Darrell Debowey, Zion Lutheran Church, Laramie, WY
Rev. Ted Bourret, Salem and St. Paul’s and St. Paul’s Lutheran Churches, Gurley, Potter, and Sidney, NE
Rev. Kenneth Humphrey, Trinity Lutheran Church, Morrill, NE
Rev. Jon Olson, Trinity Lutheran Church, Casper, WY
Rev. Christian Preus, Mount Hope Lutheran Church, Casper, WY
Rev. Daniel Mulholland, Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Fort Bridger, WY
Rev. Kenneth Mars, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Cody, WY
Rev. Ron Garwood, Christ the King Lutheran Church and District President Emeritus, Cody, WY
Rev. Samuel Needham, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Thermopolis, WY
Rev. Scott Firminhac, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Torrington, WY
Rev. Richard Boche, District President Emeritus, Cheyenne, WY
Rev. Jacob Benson, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Lovell, WY
Rev. Darren Pflughoeft, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Lusk, WY
Rev. Mark Mumme, Trinity Lutheran Church, Riverton, WY
Rev. Richard Mueller, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Alliance, NE
Rev. Patrick Baldwin, Christ Lutheran Church, Rawlins, WY
Rev. John Christensen, Emeritus, Thermopolis, WY
Rev. James Rockhill, Bethlehem and Redeemer Lutheran Churches, Crawford and Harrison, NE
Rev. Ralph Morris, Emeritus, Gering, NE
Rev. Daniel Holthus, Emeritus, Casper, WY
Rev. David Bott, Redeemer and Christ Our Savior, Jackson and Star Valley, WY

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

CrossTalk: The Feast of St. Nathanael Bar-tholomew


Nathanael, son of Talmai (i.e. Bar-tholomew), is the sixth person that we come to know in the Gospel according to St. John. When we first meet him, he is sitting under a fig tree. Philip sought him out, there, and beckoned him to “come and see” a new arrival from Nazareth (John 1:46).

Jesus had just been baptized by John in the Jordan river. Instead of returning to His home in Nazareth, He moved to Capernaum, a town on the north shore of the sea of Galilee. Philip had encountered Jesus and was convinced that he had met “Him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote.” So, he went to tell Bartholomew.

This is a first. Until this point, Jesus had taken the initiative to approach certain people and call them to be His disciples. But after hearing Philip, Nathanael approached Jesus. You could say that Philip was the first evangelist. He didn’t keep the news of Jesus to himself but invited another.

Nathanael, for his part, was not overly impressed by Philip’s news. He wryly asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” His flippant dismissiveness very nearly dismissed the best thing that this universe has ever seen. For Jesus is not just another thing in the universe, He is the Creator of the universe Himself. But rather than say all this, he replied, “Come and see.”

Jesus would do the rest. Before Philip could introduce Bartholomew to Jesus, Jesus told his followers all about him. “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit” (John 1:47). From the start, Jesus distinguishes between ethnic Israelites and True Israelites. As St. Paul teaches, “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” (Romans 9:6).

Faith makes the difference; and faith speaks the truth. Nathanael did not yet know the truth about Jesus. (Jesus would soon change that.) But once he knew the truth, he would not keep his mouth shut. It is out of Nathanael’s mouth that we first hear, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!

After Jesus suffered and died to atone for the sins of the world, and after He rose again and ascended to the right hand of the Father, Nathanael Bartholomew would take this message to the ends of the earth. Jesus made him one of the twelve Apostles. 

History tells us that he traveled to India, Armenia, Ethiopia, Iraq, and beyond. Like Philip who first came to Bartholomew, he could not help but tell others of the great things that he saw. Also like Philip, Bartholomew couldn’t take credit for the people who believed. All he said was, “come and see.” Jesus takes it from there.

Nobody is exactly sure how Bartholomew died. Some say he was crucified, others that he was beaten, others that he was skinned alive and beheaded. One source says that they did all of these things to him, one after the other. But however he died, all agree that he was killed because his preaching brought so many people to believe that something amazingly good did, indeed, come from Nazareth.

Michaelangelo thought so highly of Bartholomew that he placed him on Jesus immediate left in his famous fresco of the last judgement. You can tell the figure is Bartholomew because he has his own skin draped over his arm while holding a skinning-knife in the other hand. You can tell that Michaelangelo identified himself with Bartholomew because he painted his own self portrait on the face of Bartholomew’s skin.

Tomorrow, August 24, is the annual remembrance of Nathanael Bartholomew. A great way to observe this remembrance is to read the Gospel of St. John. For in this Gospel, Jesus’ story is bracketed by the appearance of Bartholomew in the very first chapter and, again, in the very last. 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

The heritage of Henry and Vera Lange

Vera and Henry Lange (center)
Rosella, Carolyn, George, Jeanine, Lavera, Steve (left to right)

Banquet speech delivered by Pastor Lange, grandson of Henry and Very Lange, on the occasion of the July 30, 2022 reunion. Ninety-three descendants from four generations gathered in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

We are exactly eleven days from Henry George Lange’s “eleventy-first” birthday. Moreover, Vera Marie Bertha Holtz’ 110th birthday is less than two months from now. We have gathered to celebrate two lives and the family that they brought up. 

Where do I begin to tell the story of just when my life began?

Georg Heinrich Lange was so Lutheran he was born on Reformation Sunday, 352 years after Luther's hammer blows. He arrived in New York harbor when the Statue of Liberty was still shiny new. He had five dollars in his pocket and a new hat on his head. The hat never made it to shore, while the $5 bought a ticket to Davenport.

There he met Augusta Wilhelmina Bremer, daughter of a Civil War vet from Ord, Nebraska. The teen was 500 miles from home, helping her widowed grandma run a boarding house. We’re not sure if they met there, or at Trinity Lutheran Church in Davenport. But eventually, Georg and Augusta boarded a train to Ord to ask John for her hand in marriage. He never went back.

Meanwhile, 300 miles downriver, William Hermann Heinrich Holtz was born in Maryville, IL. He prepared for marriage by acquiring 640 acres of land at Kilgore, Neb. (near Valentine) under the federal Kincaid Act. He then went to Hazard, Neb. to marry his love, Auguste Pauline Minna Lade. She had been born and baptized there and she wanted a church wedding— “God willing, and the Creek don’t rise…” 

Four generations: W.H. Holtz (center)
Vera (nee Holtz) Lange (right)
LaVera (nee Lange) Elliott (left)
Carmen, Wade, and Eric Elliott

Well, God was not willing. And the creek did rise. But, Pastor Lienhardt saved the day, fording the creek on horseback. He brought the Church to her and she was married in her uncle’s home.

The newlyweds bade farewell to their parents and were off to Cherry County. Vera was the third child, born just a year after Imogene. Vera is Latin for “True,” “verily, verily,” Amen, Amen and she remained so. Her middle name, Marie, is the mother of Jesus, God in the flesh. And Bertha, contrary to popular imagination, is not a Viking opera singer, but an old Germanic word for “bright or glorious.”

Meanwhile, back in Valley County, Hank was born, the sixth of eight children. He was born in the house that his dad had recently built. (The very same house where Vera would bear both George and Jeanine!) At St. John’s he was baptized as “Henry,” the Americanized form of Heinrich, a name with a heritage. The second name of his grandpa, Peter Heinrich Christoph (Kristoff), and the middle name of his dad, Georg Heinrich.

Henry was not only the first name of grandpa, but the middle name of firstborn, George. Henry passed his name on as middle name to his firstborn son, but it never made it into the next generation, or the generation after that. (Interruption... Here the speech was paused by late-breaking news.) 

Correction! Pending verification from independent fact checkers, it seems that the name reappeared in the fourth generation as Jacob Friedman’s middle name. This, notwithstanding that Henry was eschewed by the second generation, has been a curiosity to me. I can imagine the “naming negotiations” as Langes lobbied their spouses for Henry to no avail.

By 1969, it had fallen below 100 on the Top Baby name charts. IMHO it deserves revival. If you are currently pregnant, or become so in the future, consider this as my personal appeal to keep Henry in the running, during the baby-name sweepstakes.

Linguistically, Heinrich is related to Anaheim and Manheim. A Heim is a home. Anaheim is “the home of Anna” (the mother of Mary). If you’re a fan of Norse myth, Jotumheim is the home of the ice-giants.

When you put Heim before an R, “heim” becomes “hein” – “Heinrich.” The “rich” in Heinrich is the shortened form of “Reich” meaning ruler. 

While Heinrich skipped the third generation, George made the cut--that’s my middle name. Alex got it in the fourth generation. George is the Greek word for “farmer.” He’s a worker (ergates) of the earth (ge i.e. Gaia).

Grandpa was Christened “ruler of the household.” And “farmer” is his middle name. Grandma was baptized True Mother and glorious.

Henry and Vera were destined to build a home—a heim—together. But how did they find each other? That’s a marvel with its own story. Without that miracle, none of us would be here. A RE-union requires a UNION. Life requires a union. Nurture requires a union. Rearing requires a union. 

Henry and Vera

As young Henry and Vera grew in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they reached the most critical transition of every young person’s life. How to form a new home without losing the rich heritage that you have received? The Walther League helped them—it was affectionately known as the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s own “marriage bureau.” 

The eligible bachelors of St. John’s in Ord could have had their pick of “Valley” girls. And the Holtz beauties certainly had plenty of suitors in Shelton. But four of the six Holtz the sisters of Zion Lutheran, Shelton married four men from St. John’s in Ord. Vera married Henry Lange, Dorothy married Herbert Bredthauer, Bernadine married Eldon Lange, and Ella married Jim Bremer.

Stop and think how remarkable that is. It wasn’t purely a matter of course. It’s young people who took to heart what they heard at every wedding. “Marriage is not to be entered into inadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.”

They built a home and ruled it—Heinrich—by first ruling themselves. They toiled in the field, built Ord, contributed to Nebraska, served St. John’s. Grandpa went into the public square as part of building his home.

This life privileged you with the incalculable riches that you have today. Each trip to the coffee shop, to the barber shop, to St. John’s, to Grand Island for the reclamation district, or to Washington to lobby—each weed pulled in the massive garden, or each new cleaning of the brooder house—was building your inheritance, not for time, but for eternity.

These were the inheritance that they added with their own labors—that both carried forward from their own family experiences—both of joy and sorrows. When grandma was just shy of her 16th birthday, she watched her beloved older sister die performing a daily household chore. The kerosene-soaked corncob, a flash, and spilled fuel, mortally injured Imogene. Hours later, dying of her injuries, she told her parents and sisters, “Jesus saved me, He suffered for my sins, God will deliver me.” 

That inheritance was deeply embedded in our 15-year-old grandma. Now, it is yours. It is as real and valuable as any land or house bequeathed to children.

In 1940, Grandma and grandpa faced a similar sorrow. Ronald was translated to heaven on his birthday, May 26, 1940. Grandpa saw to that by giving him the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Heidi Anne joined Ronald 31 years later, December 10, 1971. All of you, likely, have your own, more private aches of Langes who have been taken from us before we knew their faces. They, our elder brothers and sisters, have both received an inheritance and have become a part of this, our inheritance. 

They, as we, were privileged by myriads of decisions and commitments made before they were born, and without their assent or participation. The farm has been sold, and the physical inheritance disbursed. But the intangible benefits are still present for you to give thanks to God.

You can thank Him by acknowledging the “Lange Privilege” and guarding it. You have already received untold riches without even being aware of it. There is still more available to you. Through conscious reflection. You can start with the wonderful and painstaking work of Jeanine in collusion with siblings and cousins.

She has opened windows to the fresh air of the past. It can blow through your house and home today. It’s not just musty history and faded photographs, but a living legend. In reading it, and reflecting on it, what will jump off the page is this: The Lange heritage is inextricably set in the Church.

This is the True (Vera) household that nourishes and forms you. Christ Himself is the True Heinrich, the Ruler of the Household of God who spends His life in renewing the dirt and cultivating community, Who gives you birth and rebirth into the wondrous world that He built for you.

When Grandpa’s time came to be buried in the Ord cemetery, Grandma and the girls chose the sermon text: “Vera, Vera, I say to you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (John 12:24)

In a sense, the “much fruit” of Henry and Vera is gathered here—93 strong. But, of course, that’s not what Jesus was talking about. The True Corn of wheat was the One who was planted in the ground at Calvary. Vera truly knew this, and so did Henry.

And this faith, this Church, is the greatest heritage of Henry and Vera. Their names convey this meaning. But His is the Name is that actually makes us who we are.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Monday, July 4, 2022

CrossTalk: Great God, our King


Credit Brandon Mowinkle photo on Unsplash

Today, July 4, the “Star Spangled Banner” is being belted out at Independence Day celebrations across our native land. It was written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 and has been our national anthem since a congressional resolution in 1931. A century before that, Samuel Francis Smith, a seminary student, wrote “America” which was first performed on Independence Day, 1831. This was the de facto national anthem for decades.

Smith deliberately repurposed the 1745 British anthem, “God Save the King,” with a distinctly American message. The ode to King George used the word “king” four times in one short verse. By contrast, in “America,” each of its four stanza extolls true liberty that frees us from dehumanizing bondage. 

The first stanza honors the role that our fathers and mothers had in securing the gift of freedom. It did not come cheap. Through peril and back-breaking toil the pilgrims built communities in the wilderness. In selfless sacrifice our fathers died to defend the nascent republic against invaders and tyrants. We should shout out their virtues from the highest mountains.

My country, 'tis of thee, 
Sweet land of liberty, 
Of thee I sing. 
Land where my fathers died, 
Land of the pilgrims' pride, 
From ev'ry mountainside 
Let freedom ring!

The second stanza turns attention to people who use their God-given freedom nobly—“as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16 KJV). It also calls attention to the rightful affection that those who are born here (natives) have for the land itself. Objectively, America’s soil is no better or worse than any on earth. But it is unique. And by God’s grace, it is ours. For this reason, it is comparable to heaven. And God is pleased with our gratitude for its rocks and rivulets, forests and hills. 

My native country, thee, 
Land of the noble free, 
Thy name I love. 
I love thy rocks and rills, 
Thy woods and templed hills; 
My heart with rapture thrills, 
Like that above.

The third stanza is all about the song of freedom. It is a full-throated chorus from every human inhabitant of the land. Even the rocks are invited to sing! Smith has in mind the saying of Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. When the pharisees rebuked Him for allowing the children to sing his praises, He replied, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40). 

Let music swell the breeze, 
And ring from all the trees 
Sweet freedom's song; 
Let mortal tongues awake; 
Let all that breathe partake; 
Let rocks their silence break, 
The sound prolong.

The Messianic associations of the previous stanza may seem to go too far. Christians should not put their faith in any nation or state, but in Jesus Christ, alone. For this reason, stanza four immediately clarifies the intent of three. If the “rocks their silence break,” it is only because Jesus Himself, the “Author of liberty,” is to be praised.

Our fathers' God to Thee, 
Author of liberty, 
To Thee we sing. 
Long may our land be bright, 
With freedom's holy light, 
Protect us by Thy might, 
Great God, our King!

While “God Save the King” repeatedly extolled an earthly king, Smith’s rewrite uses the word, King, only once, as the very last word. There is no mistaking his intent. The America’s liberty is possible only because, and only to the extent that, Jesus Christ Himself is King.

This hymn should be known in every home and sung in every school across our land. Not only does it have a great history, it also has a vital message for America today.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

CrossTalk: What did Jesus do after Easter?


Today is the thirty-ninth day after Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus from the grave. Most of the world has moved on to Mother’s Day, Derby Day, and soon, Memorial Day. But Christians are still celebrating Easter. We are still greeting one another with the words: “Christ is risen!” and replying, “He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!”

The Easter season is not a one-day affair. It is drawn out for 40 days because Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances lasted for 40 days. After the soldiers guarding the tomb witnessed the resurrection and after the women came and saw the stone rolled away and the tomb empty, Jesus appeared to many.

First, He appeared to Mary Magdalene when she mistook Him for the gardener (John 20:11-18). Then he appeared to St. Peter, also known as Cephas (1 Corinthians 15:5). That same afternoon, He walked with two followers for several miles on the road to Emmaus. After He revealed Himself, they ran back to Jerusalem to tell the apostles, who had locked themselves into the Upper Room (Luke 24:13-35). Then, he appeared to the whole group, to eat with them and to show them His hands and side (Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-25). All of this happened on Easter Sunday.

Then, an entire week passed when nobody saw Jesus. But, in an echo of Easter, Jesus appeared to the apostles again on the evening of the first Sunday after Easter. This time Thomas was with them to see the nail prints and spear mark for himself (John 20:26-29). 

Once again, time passed when nobody saw Him. The disciples finally traveled to Galilee as Jesus had commanded them (Matthew 26:32; 28:7, 10; Mark 14:28; and 16:7). There, Jesus appeared to the assembled disciples for the third week in a row. It happened at breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23). And that is not all. 

Although we are given no more detailed accounts, Saints Luke, John and Paul all mention that there were more post-resurrection appearances than these (John 20:30-31; 21:25; 1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Paul specifically mentions appearances to James, the leader of the Jerusalem Church, as well as to a gathering of more than 500 people. Luke summarizes all of this by saying, “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3 ESV). 

The resurrection of Jesus is not a flash in the pan. Jesus stayed visible for almost six weeks and offered “many proofs” because He wanted to leave no doubt that His self-same body that died on the cross is no longer dead. He is and remains living and active in the flesh. Had there been only one brief appearance, it could be questioned as a fluke, an apparition, or a hallucination. But multiple, sustained, and interactive encounters provide more than enough quality evidence to stand up in a court of law.

St. Paul explains why this is so important: “[I]f Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain… And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17). Symbolism won’t do. We need a Jesus who is really risen, not a Jesus who is only risen in our hearts and minds. Because a truly risen Jesus is still living and active in the world to forgive sins, to rescue from the devil, and to bring your own body back to life. So, Paul continues, “[I]n fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:14-22 ESV). Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia!