**I thought I had posted this on Wednesday only to check back and see that I had saved it but not posted it. Sorry that is is now Saturday night before it is actually being posted.**
This is Caravaggio’s “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas.” Incredulity means “a feeling of not being able to believe something or not wanting to believe something.” We all have heard of the doubting disciple Thomas who, at the eyewitness reports of Jesus’ apparent resurrection, boldly states, “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.” It is easy to caricature Thomas as the stubborn disciple who just wouldn’t have faith. Perhaps he is hard-headed and deserves the scorn of Sunday School teachers everywhere. But Thomas is just like many of us – a skeptic, and we shouldn’t rush to name Thomas hard-headed lest we are ready to say the same of ourselves (OK I’m hard-headed). Some persons can simply take the claims of resurrection at face value. “So and so said it happened and so I believe” is their mantra. But not Thomas. Thomas wants to see and apparently touch to see if he really believes. I have to admit, I am a Thomas. A basic middle school science class teaches us that when the human heart ceases to pump blood through the body, said body ceases to live. Sometimes doctors are able to resuscitate someone and make their heart beat again thereby saving their life. But we know that people do not die, are dead for three days and then resurrect. It is impossible. It doesn’t happen. Perhaps these are the thoughts Thomas has and prompts him to make his bold statement.
You may ask, “Well then how can you stand behind the pulpit and preach with conviction every Sunday?” Well, because I believe the resurrection happened and there are good reasons to believe that it did. I have no problem accepting that it was a historical event – and so it ought not be scrutinized like a scientific experiment whereby we form hypotheses, then test, retest, and draw conclusions (my apologies to the Scientific Method). Like I have already stated, we do not need to conduct experiments to see if people rise from the dead after actually being dead – they don’t. But Jesus’ resurrection was not something that could be repeated – it was a one-time event that defeated our logic which tells us that death wins because no one avoids it. From here you simply have to decide if you believe the eyewitness accounts of what happened.
But this little rant is besides the point really because Thomas had already seen someone raised from the dead (Lazarus, Jn. 11:16). And he had heard Jesus say, “if you have seen me you have seen the Father.” For Thomas, the question wasn’t if he thought Jesus was God but if this was indeed really Jesus. Had Jesus really risen from the grave? Thus the statement, unless I put my finger in the nail hole and my hand in his side, I will not believe. So what does Jesus say to us modern “Thomases?” This brings us back to the painting above. Notice Jesus is not scolding Thomas for not believing his brothers as if to say, “See!! Do you believe me now?” Instead, just like the scripture suggests, Jesus appears and simply asks Thomas to touch his wounds. Jesus invites Thomas to see for himself that he is indeed Jesus Christ and to doubt no more the “plausibility” that this could have happened.
Certainly, Jesus calls us to faith. After all, “blessed are those who have not seen but come to believe.” But I think without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus invites us to “touch….and see…and doubt no more,” having the faith of Thomas.