One of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas, could not believe Jesus had risen from the dead without first seeing the wounds from his crucifixion. And I can see exactly where Thomas was coming from. He must have thought the other disciples had gone completely bonkers as they claimed they had seen Jesus alive after witnessing his death just a few days earlier.
Some call him doubting Thomas, but the scriptures tell us that he was courageous and loyal to Jesus, although he did not stay together with the other disciples, as Jesus had instructed, after the crucifixion. But despite his failings, he stands for Christians down the ages, when amid the excitement, he says. “No, show me the proof”.
And what Thomas says still rings true for us today. Because I think it entirely reasonable to say – Hang on a minute, show me the proof. So, I would call him courageous rather than the doubting Thomas he is often known as.
He stood up to the other ten disciples and resisted their apparent lunacy until he had worked it all out for himself.
And this gives us a model we can use today too. Because there comes the point when most of us will say to our self – is it true – are the things said about Jesus true or not?
These questions have been central to the Christian faith since the first Easter day 2000 years ago. And we all have the right to say like Thomas – show me. If Jesus really is alive today, then show me something.
Another thing that strikes me about this gospel reading is the fear that was present. The disciples thought they might be harmed because of what they had witnessed – which they did not fully understand. Other than Thomas (who had gone off on his own somewhere), they were all hiding in a locked room, but Jesus was still able to come through the locked door and stand among them and say, ‘Peace be with You’.
This was his immortal greeting to the disciples as they were locked down in a Jerusalem room – ‘peace be with you’. And it is still the greeting of the risen Lord to his disciples living in a troubled world today. It is His greeting to all those seeking answers to eternal questions.
Thomas was not present in the locked room, and although he really wanted to believe what the other disciples had seen, he was not prepared to do so just on their say-so.
But Jesus is compassionate and revealed his wounds to Thomas, who then understood, perhaps more fully than the other disciples, and made this clear by saying, My Lord and My God!
These five short words contain the core of our faith. That Jesus is the Son of God. He is our Savior. He is the way, the truth, and the life.
What Proof do we Have?
So, it was all very well for Thomas, who witnessed Christ’s wounds first-hand, but what proof have we got today?
Well, firstly, according to the Gospel accounts, it is clear that the meaning of the resurrection only gradually dawned on the disciples – as they remembered that Jesus had told them this would happen.
Today, we too, only gradually understand the meaning of the resurrection by probing, asking questions and working out the truth of who Jesus really is for ourselves – it can be a slow process.
Another thing is John’s Gospel was written as a guide to 1st-century Christians who also had reasonable questions. They had accepted Christ as their saviour, but there were many false teachings and leaders. So, John, who was one of those closest to Jesus, wrote his personal experience to teach them all he had learnt first-hand as he worked alongside Him.
John starts by saying: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. He went on to say, And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
Then those immortal words in Chapter 3: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
And in the last verse of Chapter 20 of John’s gospel, he tells us that he wrote all these words so that we may come (over time) to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life.
What Does This Mean for Us Today?
People often ask, ‘where is God in the world today’. My immediate answer would be in acts of selfless love and kindness. He is there when a neighbour helps a neighbour when a stranger helps a stranger.
I also have a deep sense of God’s presence in His creation which surrounds us today in the new life of spring blossoms and green buds – chirpy bird songs, tiny lambs and newborn babies. The list is endless of the wonders of His creation.
But ultimately, the peace and hope Christ’s church has to offer are experienced through acceptance of Jesus as our risen Lord and Saviour. As we build our lives on Gospel teachings, no matter what external events occur, this firm foundation will see us through and our compassion and courage will increase. This is the peace that knowing who Jesus is offers – and the hope of eternal life.
As I build this hope Jesus offers, offers to each one of us, into the days of my life, I have very gradually come to realise that He has been walking alongside me all along. I have come to understand that throughout my whole life Jesus has been showing me both his love and his wounds – just as he showed them to Thomas, and he will also show them to you – if you ask Him to.