easter 2 Thomas has doubts
Thomas has doubts. Easter 2 1998
I am a civilian employee for the military at the Dockyard in Halifax. Few years ago I was told a story. Margaree, Nipigon built in such a way that if capsized they would do a barrel role and come back upright. Gun and flight deck falls off with all hatches closed no water gets inside and ship flips around.
On the night after the resurrection Thomas was told a fantastic story that in no way could he believe. Many of the disciples were gathered in a house in Jerusalem. I'm sure the talk was centered around the empty tomb and the appearances of the resurrected Jesus. They were gathered and afraid: afraid that the authorities were looking for them to put them in jail or even put them to death because of them knowing Jesus. You can imagine that the authorities were pretty ticked off because they thought that it was Jesus' followers who stole his body and started the rumors of Jesus still being alive. So the danger that the disciples were in was very real. It is in this emotional climate that Jesus appears to those gathered to give them comfort and encouragement. Thomas wasn't there. The scriptures don't tell us why Thomas wasn't there or what he might have been doing. But he missed out on the blessing of Jesus' visit.
He listens while his friends describe to him what Jesus said to them and how he breathed the Holy Spirit in to them EMPOWERING them for service. Now Thomas must have thought that his friends were playing some cruel joke on him. He saw for himself that Jesus died and there is no way he could have been wit the disciples this night now matter what they say. It was impossible. I believe Thomas wanted to believe but his reason said it's not possible. (If we were to put ourselves in Thomas's place what might our reaction be: would we believe whole heartedly without question what the disciples were telling us or would we be skeptical, wanting more proof before we believed the seemingly impossible. It's easy to read scripture from this end looking back and saying "how could they not believe it's as clear as the nose on their face" but really what crowd would you have been in at the time.
The Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines Doubting Thomas as "A habitually doubtful person". I think this is very unfair to the apostle because there is now evidence that Thomas was always doubting, as a matter of fact it was Thomas who first confessed Jesus divinity" My Lord and My God". Have you ever been called a Doubting Thomas? I have on occasion and I don't consider myself a terribly stubborn person but on some issues I just can't seem to accept what seems obvious to others, even though they never had any empirical evidence.(the destroyer and the barrel rolls)
I wouldn't say that doubt is always a negative trait either just because you won't readily accept something as fact, or that you demand more proof of truth, sometimes it's just being cautious. Lk 14.28 Jesus spoke a parable ablaut one who undertakes to build a tower" Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it". I think this indicates that Jesus doesn't want us t be foolish but to think and not be foolish.
I know some people who read the tabloids and seem to believe every wild tale it them. [.. ]
In our spiritual journey there will probably be times of doubt. It is not because we are Christ's but that we are human that we doubt.(the bible tells us not to doubt but believe) That's not always easy. Sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances that we have trouble understanding. We ask where are you God? We can't muster up that confidence that Jesus is with us in dark hours. We doubt. When prayer is prayed in earnest and no apparent answer comes it is easy t doubt God even exists. When we have doubts, when we fear or are in trouble we need to draw nearer to God and his people.
That is when the church should be a safe haven where we can express our doubts, our questions about spiritual matters and parts of our scripture and traditions that trouble us. (Find hard to understand or accept). In times when you want to yell at God, blame him or even curse him your place is in the community of the faithful where there should be understanding and help and direction.
When Thomas emphatically said," I will not believe unless I see the wounds and touch them the other disciples didn't cast him aside as a non believer. They didn't chastise him at all. What is remarkable is that a week later Jesus came back to that very room where once again they were all gathered and he stood among them. He greeted them in the same way. "Peace be with you". Then he goes to Thomas and gives Thomas the proof he needs. This second visit seems to be primarily for Thomas. Jesus knew the anguish and hurt he was enduring ( loneliness of exclusion of not sharing in the same experience as the others).
Jesus does no less for us that he did for Thomas. He comes to meet us where we are and whit who we are doubts and fears our imperfections, the whole package. The sadness of it all is that many miss out on God's free and wonderful gift of salvation all because they doubt God's and His abundant mercy God has for them.
What did this story of Thomas mean for the early church, Why was it important for John to keep it in the Gospel record. It could have been omitted and the truth of the reality of the resurrection maintained. There had to be a reason which I feel is this: Even though Thomas was one of the apostles he was also human like us. Sometimes we tend to forget this about the great men and women of the bible. He represents the side of our humanity that relies on the physical senses to make sense of the world around us but also have the ability to go beyond what is seen or touched. God transcends our senses. Thomas got his proof but Jesus says to him." Because you have seen me you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed". (that's us)
To be one of God's people with all its joy as the disciples received it, doesn't depend on the physical evidence in order to believe but it will be a belief from the heart. (faith) When we are troubled or having doubts we can seek consolation in God, We can seek the answers to tough questions in God. We have to stay connected. Through Reading and meditation on the scriptures, through Prayer, through being and active member in the body of Christ, God will lead us and be with us always.