One of the Twelve, Thomas, was absent when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen Jesus!” Thomas replied, “I’ll never believe it without putting my finger in the nail marks and my hand into the spear wound.” John 20:24-25 (The Inclusive Bible, edited)
Shortly after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the remaining disciples while Thomas was elsewhere. When they told Thomas of this miracle, he doubted them.
“These jokers saw Jesus? Nah. I want proof! Let me poke his wounds, then I’ll believe.”
For such a claim beyond belief, I’m with Thomas on this one.
A week later, as if to satisfy Thomas’s skepticism, Jesus returned and displayed his wounds, offering Thomas the chance to witness for himself and poke away. Humbled, awe-struck, and a little ashamed, Thomas cried out, “My Lord and my God!”
But there’s no shame in questions, doubts, or desiring proof. Even as we journey alongside the living Jesus and the resurrected Christ, even as we confess Jesus to be “our Lord and our God,” even as we strive to become steadfast and courageous disciples, we may still want to poke the wounds.
In our lifetime, we may experience signs and wonders, the presence of the Holy Spirit, a glimpse of Christ or the face of God, but we may never find the absolute proof we seek. We will not get to poke the wounds. It remains a matter of our faith.
Faith is not some hypothesis awaiting absolute proof: “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Faith is more like the certainty that comes from transformative encounters with the Divine: “When I believe it, I’ll see it.”
Even with my doubts, God of the Resurrection, your transformative love compels me to believe and to proclaim. Amen.
Chris Mereschuk is an Unsettled Pastor in the Southern New England Conference with a call to transitional ministry.