Sunday morning we dressed the kids in all their mostly recycled from last year (my shameful little confession) Easter finery and went to church. I’ve been to approximately 29 Easter services in my lifetime and as we drove the 25 minute stretch down Peachtree Road, I found myself rehearsing in my head what the sermon would be about and even found myself saying to Rick, “how does a pastor prepare a sermon for Easter year after year and have anything new to say?” Oh me of little faith. Oh how I trivialize the story of Christ’s death and resurrection because of my familiarity with it.
Our pastor, in his cozy English accent, decided to focus much of his attention on Thomas, one of the twelve disciples. He said, “Doubting Thomas is the most unfortunate title given to a man who gave one of the strongest statements of faith in the entire bible when he said, “my Lord and my God” upon seeing his savior for the first time after the resurrection.” These words often get lost in the rest of the story.
Yes, Thomas needed proof that the man he heard had risen from the dead was indeed Jesus. He makes this clear when he says to the other disciples, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” But we forget that first of all, he had not been present with the other disciples when they were meeting together and Jesus walked in unannounced, amazing them with his presence. Thomas hears this story second-hand.
Is it bad that he demands specific proof? Does this make him a particularly skeptical individual? I look at this story and think about my children. Each one of them is different and Micah accepts things without question more than Ellie. She seeks more proof. I would say Jesus gave such a gracious example when he responds to the desire of Thomas by showing him all the evidence. He enters the room and tells his disciple to touch his nail torn hands and put his hand into his side, meeting him where he is at.
Yet Jesus did expect a faith-filled response as he then says, “stop doubting and believe” and “because you have seen me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” These words are, I suppose, the premise for the title “doubting Thomas” but, like Pastor Gardner said, I think the story is about much more than doubting. I think it is about a man who is just like many of us…he hears a story that sounds unbelievable and seeks proof which, upon getting, he believes with every fiber of his being. How many of us would respond exactly as he did? I’m certain I would.
As a mom, I want to be like Jesus in my response to spiritual questions or doubts, graciously leading my children to the proof without reproving them first while also expecting that when they are given the proof they seek, they will accept it. I don’t want to promote idle questioning but questioning with the purpose of finding the answer. As Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer wrote, “God has communicated to man, the infinite to the finite. The One who made man capable of language in the first place has communicated to man in language about both spiritual reality and physical reality, about the nature of God and the nature of man.”
The Infinite has communicated with the finite through His word and given us infinite proof. And like Thomas, I pray my children will all see who he saw, their Lord and their God!