We all know his name. Thomas, as he was called, or “Doubting Thomas” as we humorously name him today, has a permanent place in the history of Grace.
In John 20:24-29 (see below), Thomas has an encounter with the Easter Jesus that marks one of the most poignant, relational moments in resurrection history.
Sometimes, when I read his story, I feel like Thomas is my spiritual doppleganger, my double, my twin. No, he’s not my real look-alike; I couldn’t post his face beside mine on Facebook and there be any resemblance. But Thomas is my think-alike, feel-alike, and faith-alike in many ways. Each time I read his story during Holy Week, I once again remember these 3 reasons I identify so deeply with the mind, heart, and struggle of Thomas.
1. Thomas struggled to embrace the truth that believing is seeing.
In step with our Western Enlightenment tradition, the unseen is always suspect within me, as it was within Thomas. The cultural waters we swim and grow in barely have a philosophical category for the supernormal unlike the rest of the world. We have had our taste for the miraculous surgically removed from our psyche by the incisive work of our deepening trust in human accomplishment.
Thomas reflects the atheistic directions my own heart can turn, even when hearing that those I trust and love say they have seen the miracle. My own heart doubts that it has occurred, and I’ll find many ways to justify my cynicism over and against another’s hopefulness.
2. Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples, with his community, when he should have been.
The other disciples were gathered together praying, and waiting. Though fear was right at their doorstep, they chose to battle it with the encouragements of community. Thomas was nowhere to be found when the Miracle was about to present himself. For a thousand good reasons, that must have made sense to him, he was not present to what God was doing for his people.
I, like Thomas, am often given to isolation when I need to be rubbing shoulders with the believing, hoping community of Christ. I prioritize my own personal reflection and process, above that of the shared life of prayer and conversation that community will always demand.
3. Thomas was given the opportunity to gather empirical data – to put his hands into Jesus’ wounds, to touch the flesh of the resurrected Lord – to walk by sight.
But when confronted with the person of Christ, Thomas didn’t need to touch or feel the Miracle. He saw, he believed, and with the words “My Lord and my God,” he worshiped.
Like Thomas, the Lord has given me the opportunity to touch, to feel, his miracles all around me. From the majesty of creation, to the transformed lives of my remarkable family of faith, I have had data running through my mind, heart, and hands for a long, long time.
My greatest revelation, like Thomas, has been to recognize that Jesus himself is the Miracle, and his presence within me makes me a sign and a wonder, a miracle, as well.
“My Lord and my God,” are my only working words this Easter season – words of halting astonishment, and inarticulate worship.
[John 20:24-29 – 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”]
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