Sunday, April 16, 2006

In Defense of Thomas

It was that very evening and the disciples were together behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jews. Jesus came and stood in the middle of them saying, "Peace be with you." And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side...

But one of the twelve, Thomas called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him they had seen the Lord, but he told them, "Unless I myself see and touch the print of the nails in his hands, and thrust my own hand into his side, I will not believe."

Eight days later the disciples were inside again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were shut and Jesus came again saying, "Peace be with you."

Then he turned to Thomas, "touch here with your finger and examine my hands, reach your hand into my side. Do not be faithless, but believing."

And Thomas answered, "My Lord and my God."

Jesus told him, "Thomas, because you have seen, you believed. Blessed are those that have not seen and still believed."
-- John 20ish
I always thought "Doubting" Thomas got a bad rap. I mean, if someone told me that a friend of mine who had been murdered was back from the dead, the Lord of Life, and had appeared to my whole gang but me, bet your butt I'd figure they had either flipped or were playing some tasteless and morbid joke. Dead men have a pretty consistent habit of staying dead. Thomas' attitude was not the least unreasonable, I don't think, though Jesus was probably disappointed that His teaching didn't sink in a little better over the course of three years. I can't imagine I would have acted any differently than Thomas.

But notice Jesus' reaction. I've said before that Jesus doesn't "trick monkey" miracles. If someone wanted to see a miracle, you could bet dimes to dollars they weren't going to see one because they were usually just asking to be entertained. He was no one's court jester.

Thomas - probably my favorite disciple - was different than those other proof seekers. He knew Jesus and his power. He certainly wanted to believe in his heart of hearts that Jesus, whom he had voluntarily followed for three long years, was alive. But he couldn't, not without seeing. That's the kind of situation where Jesus gave him proof upon which to base his faith.

Yes, more blessed are those who have not personally seen and yet believe. But that doesn't mean the skeptical are outside his grace. If they ask with the right attitude, they shall receive.

He is risen; he is not here. Come see the place where they laid him.

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