Print Version April 3rd, 2005
It seems there are two ways for a preacher to play this gospel and in my time I’ve done both. Either doubt is a bad thing and Thomas’s a cautionary tale to make us believe blindly or doubt is good and Thomas is an image for us to imitate. The first approach is easy: John puts words into Jesus mouth – ‘Doubt no longer but believe’. The second is harder to pull off persuasively but you have that great profession of faith to work with: ‘My Lord and my God!’
Right now I’m feeling that both these miss the point. We are tricked by a name into making this story about doubt but I doubt it is. … What is it that the others believe yet Thomas will not? For me the clue is in the extra evidence Thomas demands: he doesn’t just want to see the Risen Jesus he wants to see his wounds—touch the holes made by nail and lance. I think that’s Thomas’s stumbling block—not that Jesus might be Risen but that Jesus Risen should still be wounded, still bear the mark of his failure, his shameful execution.
What does it mean for us that even resurrection cannot heal those wounds? What kind of happy ending is it if the holes in the fabric never get mended? What kind of God is it who wears such shame with pride?
I find myself torn. I love those wounds—they may be all that God and I have in common—my truest link to him, my surest unbreakable bond. But I hate them too—they seem … a flaw in things, an ugliness. I want my own wounds, my shame and shallowness gone. I want the touch of grace to make me whole and entire. I want the holes mended, the faults forgotten, the death undone.
Yet here is my Lord, my God, scarred, gashed, wounded.
I’m torn another way too. Why does Jesus only show himself to his friends? Why doesn’t he arrive in a flash of thunder on Pilate’s doorstep and teach him about truth? Why doesn’t he show Caiaphas once and for all the worth of a life? Why doesn’t he … well you can name the terms. He died, he rose, and still the rich oppress the poor, still we starve and suffer, still we murder in his name.
The fabric is still frayed, there are holes. The world is wounded like our God is wounded.
And we are given today a gift and a duty. The gift, the promise, is this: that when we put our fingers into those holes we will know and understand our God, and even ourselves. The duty? The duty is to be for the world what the Risen Christ has been for us.