April 26 | John 20:24-28
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by Dan Kidd
I've always been sympathetic to Thomas. Or, perhaps more honestly, I've always seen myself in Thomas. Thomas was the hold out; the one who wouldn't simply believe the gossip or conspiracies of the day. He needed strong, appropriate evidence to support so radical a claim as that Jesus--having been dead--was alive again. Death isn't something from which people heal, and anyone who says or thinks otherwise better be prepared to prove it. Right?
I understand Thomas. Which is why I've found it strange--maybe even unreasonable--that Jesus, after meeting with Thomas and showing him his crucifixion wounds, would proceed with something that sounds like a soft rebuke, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Why wouldn't anyone be this suspicious of such an unlikely, incredible claim?
As I sit with that question, I wonder if it may have something to do with the evidence that Thomas had dismissed. I wonder if Jesus' frustration with his unbelief (a common circumstance for Jesus with his disciples, as it turns out) wasn't so much to do with Thomas being careful not to be fooled by untrustworthy claims, but that Thomas rejected the witnesses of his fellow disciples. Mary, Peter, and the other disciples had seen with their own eyes the tomb was empty. Mary Magdalene had encountered the resurrected Christ, and told the disciples about. The living Jesus appeared to the other disciples, showed them his wounds, and breathed the Holy Spirit over them. Despite how unlikely it may have sounded, Thomas's fellow disciples had shared with him the truth. And still Thomas could not believe them.
In what ways might we find ourselves incredulous like Thomas; an obstacle to God's truth and revelation? Certainly we oughtn't believe every word of gossip or theory we hear. Discernment is crucial for living in the way of God's wisdom. And, the truth is that people tell lies. But how often does my healthy reticence devolve into squelching cynicism? How often do I dismiss outright someone's witness because it sounds too good to be true? Doesn't Jesus' victory over death sound like something that's too good to be true?
We live in suspicious times; a period of post-truth. But it would appear that Jesus has more for us than that; requires more from us than that. The most poignant evidence for God is the witness--in word and deed--to the Truth by his disciples. The stories we share with each other, especially the stories about how we've encountered and known the Lord, are critical to the flourishing of our faith. Our God is one of mystery and surprises--bringing darkness into light, lost ones home, and dead things to life. It seems fitting, then, that we make and take opportunities to hear what the Lord is doing in the lives of those around us--and even be open to believe true witnesses even when they seem unlikely. Likewise, instead of being cagey or concerned about sharing the ways we've encountered and experienced God, we may be open to share such stories, knowing that they are the evidence of God's Kingdom work.