St John 20: 24 – 29
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’ A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, 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. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt 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 come to believe.’
I feel for Thomas.
We don’t know a huge amount about him, but we are aware that he has two monikers. The first one is ‘the twin’, and I wonder whether, like other twins of my acquaintance, he got fed up with being known and referred to in relation to a sibling, rather than as an individual. Then there’s the second nickname, which comes from this Gospel passage – ‘doubting’.
In recent years, the term FOMO has found its way into our language – the fear of missing out. For Thomas, even without the pressures of social media, it wasn’t so much a fear, but an experience of missing out big time. He wasn’t there when Jesus appeared to the disciples on the evening of Easter Day. He didn’t have that ‘Johannine Pentecost’ experience which the others received. I can imagine him thinking that his friends were cracking up under the strain of the previous few day when they reported the encounter. In the circumstances, a ‘questioning Thomas’ is pretty understandable. Like any good researcher, he wanted some empirical evidence.
A week later, our questioning Thomas has his own encounter with the risen Jesus. Whilst Jesus invites him to test the evidence, there’s nothing to say whether Thomas actually touched the wounds. What we do know is that his questions are answered by this experience. His response is something of a parallel with Peter’s response to Jesus question “who do you say I am?” But while Peter talks of “the Christ, the son of the living God”, Thomas makes it personal; “My Lord and my God” – a statement of belief.
I’m a fan of Thomas – not so much the doubting twin, but the questioning and believing Thomas.
Help us, as we ask questions
to be open to your answers.
Give us the assurance of your resurrection,
and help us, with Thomas,
to proclaim you as our Lord, and our God.