That Thomas’ absence when Jesus first appeared to the Twelve after his resurrection was due to his withdrawing from the other disciples following Christ’s crucifixion is an intriguing exegetical possibility. It also frames the events that follow in a manner that may be instructive for the Church in its witness to those who are doubting and agnostic.
The politics of proclamation emerge from and carry forward God’s liberative force. Mary Magdalene’s witness to the risen Christ manifests and proclaims the disruption and the liberation of God’s new reality.
The law is a dying and rising reality, not a dead letter etched in stone. Through the hermeneutics of resurrection words once consigned to the grave of the past burst with liberating and life-giving force upon an unsuspecting world.
In John 20:31 the gospel writer speaks directly to the reader, telling her that the primary purpose of John’s Gospel is to describe the signs or miracles worked by Jesus in order that readers come to believe Jesus is indeed the Messiah. All who hold this belief will obtain eternal life.
The resurrection does not erase suffering: it teaches us to live in a world torn by injustice. It gives us hope that God is present in the ugliest violence of human life, and that God engages human history to create meaning on the other side of tragedy and injustice.
One of the great paradoxes of John Calvin’s political theology can be captured in terms of two of the phrases the reformer used over and over throughout his writings. On the one hand, he emphasized, “the kingdom of Christ is spiritual.” On the other hand, through the kingdom of Christ God is bringing about the “restoration of the world.”
The encounter of Mary Magdalene with the risen Christ provides us with a model for understanding political theology. The elusive presence of the resurrected one and the emptiness of his tomb forbid all our attempts to secure his presence in our praxis and open up new ways of perceiving our social task.
That the resurrection is a beleaguered doctrine in North America and in Europe is hardly a new revelation. For all its technological wonders, modernity is uncomfortable with old-fashioned miracles. Pre-modern ways of talking about Jesus’ resurrection don’t translate easily for an audience that demands scientific corroboration and empirical evidence. As a result, Christianity has chastened and tamed this story in a number of ways.