to see or not to see | John 20.26-29
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.” 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.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20.26-29 | ESV
A full week passes, plus a day.
“Think Twice” must surely be thinking all the rest of them would be thinking twice by now, since the Lord is still a no show. Perhaps it was right in the middle of another “I told you so” moment – Thomas with the rest of the disciples back in that room, the door still securely locked and bolted. And he does it again. Jesus suddenly right in the middle of them, saying, “Shalom ya’ll!” aka “Hey there!”
Faces etched in astonishment, though Thomas’ seems to have been drained of all color. Jesus immediately seizes upon “Think Twice’s” no doubt often repeated faith challenge over the past week, saying to Thomas, “Take your finger and examine my hands, then take your hand, insert, and explore my side, and let this be the catalyst that transforms your calculating distrust with full-bodied trust.” Thomas could only blurt out, “My Lord and my God!” To which Jesus says, “So now belief and trust have awakened within you – now that you see it. How very happy they are who don’t have to travel your wearying route of seeing and proving and sorting all the evidence – but who, like a child, yet know how to believe.” MAV
“He that doubteth is damned.”
Okay, that’s not the full statement from Paul’s pen, but it might as well be, because it’s what we tend to believe. Doubt is one of those things that’s only cool to confess after you no longer have it. We frequently observe that doubt isn’t the problem, it’s what we do with it that counts.
But perhaps it’s better to take note of what he did with it. Perhaps it’s just me, but Jesus seems almost a bit mischievous in these resurrection appearances. Yes, he demonstrates with “many infallible proofs” that he was alive, that he was a human being and not a phantasm of some sort – only what Luke considers “infallible” clearly wasn’t for everyone who witnessed the events.
Yes, some doubted. Perhaps it had something to do with the way he came at them in a different form. The way he would just show up – and then vanish. The way he would show up and then simply stay away for eight days. It’s almost as if he allows the natural skepticism of Thomas to fully mature before popping right into the room with an almost casual “how you doin’?”
In how many creative, mischievous ways does he pop into our own midst inviting us to poke and prod him even as he pokes and prods us? How often, I wonder, do we even notice?
And one more question: Did Thomas have to touch and poke him – or did the sight of Christ finally enable him to see with a different set of eyes?
Describe your own journey to faith (even if you haven’t gotten there yet). What have been the key factors for you?
Lord, in this cynical world, show me how to see wonder as a child again, and believe. Through Jesus.