“Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believing.’” John 20:27
I love Gospel stories that are as graphic as the one of Jesus inviting Thomas to touch his wounds. I can easily picture the scene and imagine the event unfolding. I place myself in that room, a bystander, watching the interchange between Jesus and Thomas.
I imagine Thomas’ reaction—the embarrassment at having been called out in front of his friends, not to mention that touching physical wounds can be revolting. I visualize the reactions of the people in the room, the relief of the other apostles that they had not been singled out by Jesus.
Then I am standing in front of Jesus, and my stomach clenches at the thought of being challenged as Thomas was challenged.
But I know that I am like Thomas with his doubting attitude. “Prove it,” is often my position. I fear being seen as gullible and tend not to commit until I can see with my own eyes. In common parlance, I have trust issues.
Thomas believes once he has seen Jesus’ wounds; and I wonder if that sense of certainty held or if he went back to being a doubter on his next encounter with something incredulous. I know that for me, one event of trusting has not necessarily led to another.
It is often difficult for me to move beyond my skepticism when I encounter something that seems implausible. I have to process my incredulity, push past my doubt and actually decide to believe. Usually, I have to act “as if” I believe—until I do believe. Acting “as if” is a tool which has helped me many times.
I do notice one big difference between Thomas and me in this scenario. Just three days earlier, Thomas had betrayed Jesus by fleeing the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion; and yet his position is somewhat arrogant (“Unless I see…I will not believe.” John 20:25).
In Thomas’ place, no matter how unbelievable the story may have been, I would have hoped it was true, silently prayed for it to be true, so that I could apologize for my betrayal. When I am the one who has betrayed someone, I am filled with self-loathing at the knowledge of my treachery, and I long to be forgiven. I usually beg for forgiveness; I grovel.
In Thomas’ place, no matter how skeptical I might have been at the tale the others were telling about Jesus’ appearance, I am pretty sure I would have kept that to myself—hoping the story was true so that I could apologize for my cowardice and be given another chance.