“My Lord and my God” – what we learn from Thomas, ‘the twin’.

The gospel lesson this morning brings the most famous sceptic in Scripture before us –

Thomas the twin (doubting Thomas).

The story is another of those gospel lessons filled with tired old truths –

so allow me to wake them up for you.

Most of Jesus’ friends have locked themselves away “in fear”.

Jesus is dead and (as far as they know) buried,

and it is likely that, had they stood their ground and made their grief public,

they would have been included in the purge.

So they remain in a locked room, suspicious of everything.

They have heard the women’s tale of empty tomb and heavenly messengers and dismissed them.

Mary has said to them “I have seen the Lord”, but there is room only for their fear.

And suddenly, Jesus is there!  Among them –

though no doors have been opened their security is breached.

He calms them with a word of peace, shows them his wounds,

makes them a gift of his breath of life, and speaks of the power of forgiveness.

And for a week after this, nothing changes.

The gospel account makes brief mention of their joy, ( “…they rejoiced when they saw the Lord…”)

and yet, one week later they are still locked away by themselves.

Let’s think about this for a moment, because in our haste to expose Thomas’ doubts,

we neglect this little bit of business;

the disciples had seen, and been blessed, and been charged by the Risen Lord to get on with their lives,

and yet they have remained – trapped by their fear, and – I presume – their doubt, for an entire week.

No mention of bold proclamation, nor of anything else (at least in John’s account)

until seven days have passed.

“We have seen the Lord”, they say, when Thomas joins them.

“Prove it” says he, or words to that effect,

and le voila, Jesus encore!

Jesus greeting is the same: “Peace be with you” he says.

The proof offered is the same – see my hands and my side –

but finally in Thomas we have a reaction that matters.

“My Lord and my God”, he says, and from then on, the conversation is changed.

God is recognized as the power behind this profound event.

Thomas makes the theological connection that no one else has dared to make,

and this gradually moves this fearful group beyond their self-made prison and back into the world.

Fear and doubt continue to confine us as followers of the Risen Christ.

We can tell the story with conviction on Sunday – we can celebrate with certainty on Easter –

But the calendar quickly brings new challenges for which we cannot find answers.

The week between our worship services has its own character –

full of life without hope; full of activity without satisfaction –

and the fearful character of the world does not take long

to overpower the joy we felt when first we heard the news “He is Risen.”

I am not Jesus, so my promise of peace does not carry much weight.

There is no hard evidence for us – we are those blessed to believe without having seen –

and yet that ‘blessing’ holds no joy for us

We are fearful and suspicious, because the promise of faith

does not seem to be bearing fruit in the way we were told it should.

We are more like those first disciples than we want to be – and not in a good way.

We are paralyzed by our fears, and we are afraid to express our doubts.

There are doors we do not want to open,

because if we let the world in, we shall be changed,

And if we let the gospel out, it is no longer ours to control.

So before we offer Thomas any grief for his questions, let us admit that we lack his courage.

It took courage to question the security expressed while fear surrounded him.

It was bold of him to ask for even more than had been given on that first day –

“unless I touch his wounds…” where others had only seen the marks –

And it takes great courage to announce that you have seen God where others have not.

We need to show that kind of courage.

We need to be brave enough to express our doubts.

And it will take courage to hear (and see) and understand when our questions have been answered.

Only then will we be able to do what Thomas does;

proclaim, on very little evidence,

that God is still at work in the world.

Thomas’ statement marked the beginning of the disciples re-engagement with the world.

Their next encounter with Jesus is in the open; on the beach.

From this point on, there was no stopping their witness to the work of God in Christ.

Will we dare to be so bold?  Can we let our doubts overturn our fear?

Are we willing to demand a sign and will we recognize the response?

What will it take for us to see in our circumstances the presence of the living God?

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One Response to ““My Lord and my God” – what we learn from Thomas, ‘the twin’.”

  1. Evelyn Says:

    An enjoyable sermon. I think we are given signs all the time. We just have to listen to them.

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