(Matthew 28.16-20; Mark 16.14-18; Luke 24.36-49)
19The disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders, and on the evening of that same Sunday they locked themselves in a room. Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the middle of the group. He greeted them 20and showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they became very happy.
21After Jesus had greeted them again, he said, “I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me.” 22Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone's sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don't forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven.”
Jesus and Thomas
24Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn't with the others when Jesus appeared to them. 25So they told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But Thomas said, “First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won't believe unless I do this!”
26A week later the disciples were together again. This time, Thomas was with them. Jesus came in while the doors were still locked and stood in the middle of the group. He greeted his disciples 27and said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!”
28Thomas replied, “You are my Lord and my God!”
29Jesus said, “Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!”
It often seems to me that Thomas has two strikes against him. First of all, he wasn’t actually with the other disciples when Jesus appears to them after his resurrection. Secondly, he wasn’t one to cover up his doubts. He spoke them out loud.
“Show me the evidence,” he says to his friends when they excitedly tell him they have seen Jesus, that their Lord was truly alive. Thomas wants the same evidence they have witnessed. He wants to touch the scars, examine wounds. He had seen the nails and spears go in. He would know the scars.
Doubt is not an easy emotion. It nags at the mind, steals sleep, twists the stomach into uncomfortable knots. Thomas lived with his doubt for a week. That couldn’t have been easy.
I know what doubt feels like. When I was a young adult, just beginning my career after university, I had my doubts about following Jesus. I’d been raised as a Christian, but I wasn’t sure I wanted faith to be the focus of my life. There were so many other competing interests: a good job, money, relationships.
Then I was invited to live in the Central American country of Colombia by Jack and Mary Anne, a missionary couple. They wisely recognized I was someone who needed evidence before I could embrace an adult faith. I needed to see Jesus in action, transforming people who had little interest in his message.
I spent two years in Colombia immersed in a community of people who were discovering Jesus in real and exciting ways. I witnessed ardent atheists and Marxists discover God through meeting Jesus. I experienced God’s love in a community of believers.
I moved from doubt to faith in those Colombian years, and I have always been grateful for Jack and Mary Anne who didn’t dismiss me because I doubted, but generously invited me to witness truth.
Jesus does the same for Thomas. “Look at me,” he says. “Put your hands on me. Convince yourself that it’s really me.”
Doubt is not a barrier to God. Thomas needs evidence. Jesus gives it to him.
Jesus, thank you for recognizing our doubts. Thank you for bringing people into our lives who help us face doubt, who listen to our questions and help us find answers. Today, I give you my doubts. Thank you for giving me the grace to bring them to you. Amen.