When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 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.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
The sign in the shop says, “Nice to look at, lovely to hold, but if you break it, consider it SOLD” Understandable I suppose. Which is why my childhood memories of going into stores are underscored by my Mother’s mantra, “Look don’t touch!”. Yet we are tactile beings. The very first sensations we have as humans involve touch and then of course putting the held object into our mouths! What a consternation causer for young mothers.
Thomas wasn’t a doubter he was simply human. “Don’t tell me, show me.” After all, didn’t the Psalmist say, “O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8
I am reminded of the countless movie scenes where a long-lost–thought-dead loved one returns. The director usually has the other character hold the returner’s face in their hands and say something like, “Is it really you?”
Despite the risk of touching instead of just looking, despite my Mother’s nagging voice, I am a Thomas too.
Like him I have had moments of loss, confusion and chaos when I have shut down and denied the possibility and probability of any return from the dark desperate void of my own broken grief. My heart has shut down as securely as the locked doors of that upper room on that first Easter evening.
I am never sure how, or why, Jesus has come to me and stood in that sequestered place of fear and forgetfulness, but he has again and again. He is miraculously there despite my barricades and belligerence that often make Thomas sound tame.
He is there, and all I want to do is what the movies characters do. I want to hold his face in my hand and sob, “Is it really you?”
I never do that though. Perhaps it’s my Mother’s voice, “Look don’t touch”? I don’t think so. Rather I believe it is the overwhelming experience of real resurrection renewal that makes me not hold him nor poke fingers of incredulous questioning into him.
In moments of resurrection encounter I like Thomas, can do nothing other, than fall on my knees before his patient ever-returning grace.
“My Lord and my God!”