John 20:24-25

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.”

I’ll say it right up front: I think Thomas has gotten something of a bad rap. We know him as “Doubting Thomas,” but I’m not sure that’s fair to either him or John’s story or particularly helpful to us as readers and contemporary disciples. So, two things I noticed and wondered about when reading this passage.

First, Thomas only asks to see what the other disciples have already seen. When Jesus met the disciples who have been hiding behind locked doors, he immediately showed them his hands and feet, as if he knew from the outset just how difficult it would be for them to believe that the one standing before them is the same one who was crucified so brutally just days earlier. Thomas asks for no extraordinary proof to move his extraordinary doubt, but only requests what the others had already been given.

Second, is Thomas’ reaction one of doubt or realism? Might it be that Thomas was, above all else, a realist? And that reality had come as never before just days earlier when he watched his beloved teacher and friend nailed to a cross? There are few things more painful than being cut on the shards of one’s broken dreams, and I think that Thomas felt he had bled enough. And so he asks to see and know for himself that this man the others had seen was indeed his Lord.

Doubt or realism? Proof or merely a desire for the same experience as his comrades? A lot of our interpretation of Thomas and this passage rests on how we answer these questions.

Prayer: Dear God, enable us to hear you speaking to us through this passage and the whole of Scripture. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Post image: “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas,” by Carravagio.