A friend of mine posted a question that not so much tickled as poked my fancy: Who is your favorite disciple of The Twelve? I’d never asked myself this and drew a complete blank for at least a week.
The first glimmer came with considering who I identified with rather than who I liked. Oh, okay, now we’re getting some traction.
First one was easy peasy – Thomas, known through the millennia for his ‘Doubting.’ Trusted friends, comrades in the struggle who had, every one, laid his life and death on the line for the young preacher boy/miracle man from Nazareth – all said that he was somehow back, somehow alive, after his execution which they’d all witnessed.
Thomas had seen the bloody pulp the soldiers had reduced Mr Gonna Save the World to–his friend, the leader of their merry roving band.
Crucifixions were then part of the everyday scenery, routine as handcuffs now – the Romans lined the main roads with the gory dying, with their groans and the stench of their blood, urine and excrement.
A daily gentle reminder of who was in charge and the consequences of not being a good boy.
So Thomas, out of his rich store of memories of this tortuous mode of dying, responded to his friends’ claims with ….. “Yeah, right.”
But hey, he was a reasonable man and willing to consider evidence. Hard evidence. “You know what? I’ll believe this story if and only if Jesus stands right here in front of me and lets me stick my finger into the nail holes in his hands and poke my hand into the hole where we saw the soldier stick his spear up into Jesus’ heart. Yeah, that will convince me.” (John chapter 20, loosely.)
He was no soft-sell. None of this ‘reliable witness testimony’ would do it for him.
So, how did his supposedly back-from-the-dead leader respond to the doubt he was flaunting? This was not misgiving, not cautious hesitation, but a demand for an empirical verification of the impossible. Did lightning strike, did the earth swallow him up, did his skin instantly break out in leprosy?
Well, much more dramatic than any of that.
A week later, when some of the disciples had gotten together secretly (they were in hiding from the authorities) Jesus himself suddenly materialized and stood there in front of his friend Thomas and said–“Okay, here I am, come on, do it. I invite you–seriously– use your fingers and hands on these wounds that killed me. Just stop disbelieving and trust me.”
Thomas’ response? A very simple declaration. We don’t know if he sputtered it out, or shouted it, or whispered it. “My Lord ….. my God”–thus becoming a star witness for his many fellow skeptics through the ages who struggle with the enormity of this claim–the Lord is risen!
So, as his gift to us, we the many doubters through the centuries get to join our brother and fellow believer Thomas in his cry, whether loud or soft–my Lord . . . my God!