We Have Seen the Lord

I don’t know about you, but I think Thomas gets a bad rap.
five-sensesWe don’t know him as “the Twin” as John describes him. No, for us he is forever, “doubting Thomas.” But think about it: He doesn’t ask for anything more than the other disciples have already received. Sure, it’s easy for them to believe — they actually saw Jesus. But he didn’t, and given the emotional torment of the last week no wonder he refuses to enter into what must have seemed like a severe case of denial.
Where was Thomas when Jesus first appeared? John doesn’t tell us. My own guess was that he was out and about getting on with his life. Why do I think that? Because Thomas was a realist.
When Thomas does see Jesus, of course, he makes the climatic confession of John’s Gospel, addressing Jesus as, “My Lord and my God!” Strikingly, no one else in John’s Gospel — or the other three for that matter — ascribes divinity so directly to Jesus. In doing so, Thomas affirms what the readers were told at the beginning, as he echoes the confession made in the first verse of the Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
In doing so, Thomas also offers those same readers a model for faithful response to an encounter with Jesus — belief, belief that leads to confession. If this is true, we might wonder why Jesus rebukes Thomas. Except that I don’t think Jesus is talking to Thomas anymore. Instead, I think Jesus has turned his attention to us. Who, after all, are those who will believe even though we have not seen? Not the disciples, and not Thomas. It’s John’s readers — then and now — which means that Jesus is talking to — Jesus is blessing! — us. Little wonder then that John offers his formal conclusion to the gospel immediately after this blessing by saying, “Jesus did many other things…not written in this book. These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and believing have life in his name.”
Faithful disciples are Jesus’ persistent presence in today’s world. Being a living presence is expressed in everyday acts that bring new life and hope to others. In countless ways we are making tangible the risen presence of Christ. We are living proof of the resurrection.