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Archive for the category “Doubting Thomas”

The Thomas Doubt Affair: Day Eight, The Encounter

“Put your finger here, and see my hands”


Sunday after the Resurrection, Jerusalem circa 30 AD

It’s the end of a long arduous week for the disciple Thomas and for his fellow disciples and friends.  So many questions must have been asked, so many debates and arguments, every theory espoused,  every option analyzed… there could have been so much tension and apprehension and yet in the end we see grace.  They are still altogether.

Did any of them know what was coming the Sunday after?  Probably not. Though there seems to be some anticipation on the part of Peter, John and the others.

Jesus must have assured them he would come back again and so they may have said to themselves… let’s wait in the same place together.  John says they were “inside again”.  But this time with Thomas!

The doors are locked… fear of the Temple Guards?  …of the Roman Guard? Probably.  Doors were locked first time, right?

And then it happens.  Not through the door or window but right through whatever Jesus appears.  He stands among them. After an initial rumble of astonishment the room became still and silent awaiting Jesus to speak.  The apostle John describes it this way.

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

Words that were a healing balm after such a week. Peace falls on the group.  All eyes are glued to the smiling Galilean, the resurrected Lord.  Then with a look of concern he turns and Thomas’ eyes catch his.

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:26-28

Thomas does not hesitate to respond not with probing fingers and examining eyes but with the testimony of testimonies!  He doesn’t ask, “Why did you make me wait so long!”  or “Was I not worthy enough to see you last Sunday!?!” or “What misery you put me through!”

When we see the Lord face to face we too will be overcome not with our questions and our hurts but with His glorious presence. The awesomeness of the moment is captured for us.  This man who questions and challenges like the best of any 21st Century skeptic has nothing to say but “My Lord and My God”.

Every time I read this I cannot picture it without seeing the Doubting One falling to his knees in joyful astonishment.  Eyes wide open rapidly filling with tears of relief and amazement.

“My Lord and my God!”

This is not an “OMG it’s you!” exclamation.  It is a confession of one who has been with Jesus throughout his ministry, who has seen the love, the compassion, the truth and the power of his presence, the power of the miracles and now the power of the resurrection.  “Let us go that we may die too” rings hollow in the face of the Risen Saviour.

Jesus is Lord and Jesus is God come in the flesh.  The cross was the way to salvation.  The resurrection guaranteeing its efficacy and power.  This moment is emblazoning itself on his heart and mind.  The disciples stand in rapture wanting to cheer and scream but somehow this has knocked their breath away.

For the sake of many Thomas has not settled for easy believism.  And yet right now he must be a little ashamed of his lack of faith. It all seems quite obvious and quite clear and logical.  Jesus had to die, the sinless sacrifice.  Thomas cannot help but see this truth.

But at this moment everything fades as he gazes upon the Incarnate One, Jesus, risen from the dead and Thomas falls to his knees and worships!


The Thomas Doubt Affair: Day Seven

“OK, so where is Jesus?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASaturday, Jerusalem circa 30 AD

It is the 7th day (counting Resurrection Sunday) since Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to Mary Magdalene, Peter and all of the disciples… except Thomas.

Now a strange tension must have developed that we 21st Century readers of the gospels do not experience.  Jesus might have told his disciples to stick around Jerusalem saying he’ll be back next Sunday but we have no evidence that he did.  If not then by Saturday I am sure the disciples are being challenged more and more about the first appearances.  The question would be… OK if Jesus showed up last Sunday where is he now?

And who would ask that question more than anyone else?  Thomas of course.  In his mind his case might be getting stronger.  “OK, so where is Jesus?” he would certainly ask.  I’m sure he had gone through some serious doubts, anxiety, anger and frustration that he was the only one that missed out.  And he might have even gone through a moment or two of regret for his almost thoughtlessly issuing his belligerent challenge.

I remember when my boys were young and we had two or three big “Where’s Waldo?” books.  The idea was to look through each large page covered with miniscule men, women and animals in a plethora of confusing outfits and pick out Waldo.  Where was Waldo?  We would spend an unending amount time until finally a Waldo sighting occurred.  A cheer would rise up in triumph each time it happened.  But we as parents at least knew there was at least one Waldo on each page.  Not so for our band of disciples… at least when it came to seeing Jesus again.


So with confusion growing inside the circle of disciples, outside of their group explanations had been created for the empty tomb,

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

I doubt that Thomas gave them much heed.  The other disciples acknowledged the empty tomb but would have absolutely no reason to perpetuate such a ruse with Thomas.  So where was Jesus?

Yes, the disciples would be hounded by such a question… Thomas would hammer them with it.  It’s been a week… and no Jesus!

Also with the Sanhedrin’s accusations flying about the holy city it was not a safe place to hang out if you were a disciple.  You were being accused as a grave robber.  And you were spreading rumors based on obvious lies that Jesus had risen from the dead as your defense.  Tensions must have been high in the city.

You would be wise to lay low as one of the original twelve.  Hiding out but wondering… where is Jesus?  They would say to themselves, “We really need him to show up.  Thomas is pestering us saying that he would not believe us unless he sees him face to face touching his wounds. And the other disciples who had not seen him but believe need a little reassurance.  And heck, we could use a little wisdom on how not to get arrested!”

Ever been on the spot where you wondered where Jesus was when you needed him?  Don’t fret he will show up.  Sunday’s coming!  Maybe you should even go back to the place you last encountered him.  That’s what the disciples did.  They made sure Thomas was with them this time!

The Thomas Doubt Affair: Day Six

“Thomas, The Skeptic for Our Time”  


The Apostle Thomas (Didymus)

Friday Jerusalem circa 30 AD

It is the 6th day since the resurrection non-appearance for the disciple Thomas, the only one to miss encountering the risen from the dead Saviour Jesus.

How do you stand stalwartly against your closest friends and tell them they are all wrong… that they didn’t see what they say they saw?   How do you stick around with them and not have some touchy encounters? Or for that matter full-blown angry exchanges?

Thomas the skeptic… he’s the pain in the butt friend that doesn’t believe anything without a dozen fact check sites reviewed.  He’s got the latest scientific findings on how Adam and Eve couldn’t have existed along the Tigris and Euphrates.  He’s got the latest reported Bible contradiction, hot off the presses.

When he gets saved he still asks the hard questions but you know it wasn’t the road of blind faith that he took.  In fact you look to him when someone asks you the tough questions about the Shroud of Turin, or how the latest militant atheist attack holds no water or how to deal with the latest scientific discovery that somehow shows that Jesus was really married or how one should reply to the newest theological theory of how Jesus body was buried in a heap and the dogs ravaged the grave.  The 21st Century is a tough time to be a Christian (not that it wasn’t before). 

That’s why Doubting Thomas and his stubborn skepticism concerning the resurrection should be a comfort and an encouragement to us post-modern 21st Century folks.  He asks the tough questions and takes nothing for granted.

The caricature of the 1st Century disciple can be none too pretty.  Often viewed as uneducated, superstitious, unscientific, not writing vital information down while relying on verbal tradition, the 1st Century disciple’s testimony can be portrayed as unreliable, gullible, even Neanderthal and decidedly inaccurate.

Into that dingy unflattering portrait steps Thomas (aka Didymus).  He holds back his patented sarcasm and takes a moment to ask for real evidence.  He refuses easy believism.  There is possibly a little bitterness in his refusal to accept the report as true. This is human nature.  Arrogance, pride, bitterness, unforgiveness, deception, anger and fear serve to block us from accepting what deep down inside we know is true.

“But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” John 20:25

So Thomas standing in as a proxy for the 21st Century person whether skeptic, seeker or saved poses the criteria for his belief.  Though we will not be able to see the physical marks of the nails and put our fingers into the resurrected Christ’s side there is one who has,  who has done it as the skeptic, as the doubter and we can be assured in the truth of what Thomas will soon declare…

“My Lord and my God!”  John 20:28

Thank you, Thomas, the skeptic for our time!

(This is part 2 of The Thomas Doubt Affair , a forerunner of a longer piece in 10 parts which is in the works)  COMMENTS WELCOME!

The Thomas Doubt Affair: Day Three

thomas-the-apostleTuesday, Jerusalem circa 30 AD

It’s the third day of the Resurrection which occurred on Sunday and the disciples of Jesus, Peter, John and the rest are giddy with glee that the risen Christ has appeared to them all.  Mary Magdalene first to see Jesus is beside herself as are the other women, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, Salome and of course, Jesus’ mother Mary.  There is an atmosphere of exhilaration that surrounds them whenever they see each other.  Their hearts are filled with anticipation and wonder… wondering when they will see Jesus next and what this will all mean for them now that the Master has overcome the grave.

However there is a small cloud of gloom that hovers over the party.  It’s when the disciple named Thomas comes into the room.  You see the Lord did not appear to him on Sunday.  Thomas was missing. Like the other disciples his world was shattered.  He had invested himself 100% in Jesus as Messiah.  But then Jesus was led out of Gethsemane under heavy guard, was rapidly tried and convicted.  And then the death sentence and the crucifixion.  Every hope and dream he could ever imagine came violently crashing down around him.

He was probably hiding out that day or getting drunk or doing something, anything, to get his mind off this greatest of tragedies. 

Then Jesus, alive from the dead appears to all the disciples but him.  Yes, it appears that he was the only one NOT to see Jesus.  When Peter, John or Mary try to tell him about it he bitterly and even sarcastically rebuffs them.

 24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”

But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” John 20:24-25

It’s been two days.  Things are not going good for him. Not at all.

But this “Thomas Doubt Affair” or “The Case of Doubting Thomas”  will serve us generations to come.  For Thomas is not an easy believer, no gullible superstitionist, no ignorant 1st century man who blindly follows along.  He suspects that maybe they’ve all been drinking the kool-aid and he is not about to partake in any such tomfoolery.  He needs answers, he needs more.  He asks the hard questions for us.  He represents the 21st century skeptic who must have more than possible mass hallucination as evidence.

But it won’t be easy.  It’s been three days already and he’s growing a bit impatient with all this joyful celebration and unbridled happiness. Mad, they must all be mad. Mad as hatters.  Little does he know what lies ahead in 5 more days.

(This is Part 1 of The Thomas Doubt Affair… check out Part 2 Day Six “Thomas, The Skeptic for Our Time” )  COMMENTS WELCOME!

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