Lectionary for May 1: Acts 2:1–14, 22–32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3–9; John 20:19–31
Reflection: Doubting Thomas
Poor Thomas … he gets saddled with being the one disciple who had profound doubts about Jesus’ resurrection. Clearly the other ten got it. Right?
Maybe not so much.
There they were. Ten disciples … maybe more, we really don’t know how many were there … in a locked-down, semi-dark room, probably talking in hushed voices so no one outside would hear them. Suddenly, Jesus shows up unannounced and certainly uninvited. No knocking on the door here. Poof.
Shock? Fear? Trepidation? Certainly. But then Jesus greets them with his peace and Peter crawls out from beneath the table to check it out with the rest of them. And what do they check out? Jesus’ hands and his side. They get to see uncontroversial proof that it’s who he says he is.
Who knows how late it was when Thomas got back from his late-night 7-11 run, but when the disciples tell him they’d seen Jesus he was skeptical. And he makes his infamous statement that he never lives down: “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.” A true doubter if ever there was one.
Except for one detail … Thomas just wanted what the other disciples had experienced. They got to see Jesus’ hands. They took a peek at the spear wound in his side. It wasn’t fair … he just wanted to have the same experience they’d had!
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
In today’s culture those who have limited or no church experience (one of the fastest growing demographics in the US) aren’t as far away from belief as we often postulate. Many just want parity too … they need to see Jesus in the flesh, but what they too often see is the Church being the Church rather than the living, active Body of Christ. Those who experience Jesus in the flesh, that would be you and I who claim the name Christian (better translated “Little Christ”), have less difficulty making the leap from doubt to faith. But their experiences must be up close and personal … they will need to see our own scars and hear about our own resurrection from death to life before they will believe. They will need an experience of the authentic, transparent, resurrected you. They will have to be touched by your hands and your heart before they will believe.
As you are sent into the world from this place, consider: Of your unchurched, unreached friends, who will get to see your scars and hear of your hope this week?
Bill Tenny-Brittian is the co-president of the National Evangelistic Association and the co-host of the weekly videocast Church-Talk (available on iTunes, Apple TV, and at Church-Talk.com).