24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”But he said to them, “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.” (John 20:24-25)
For centuries, Christians have affixed this ignominious nickname to the one disciple of Jesus who wasn't in the room the first time Jesus appeared to his followers after the Resurrection.
When I was a kid, I was taught this story as a cautionary tale about how I shouldn't doubt when it came to my faith.
But now when I read it, I don't see Thomas in that light at all.
When you go back a couple of chapters in the story we find Jesus telling his followers that he was heading to Jerusalem even though there were people there who wanted to kill him.
And then Thomas tells the other disciples "Let us go now to Jerusalem so that we may die with him."
I've always believed that what motivated Thomas more than anything when he declared that he wouldn't believe Jesus was alive was a broken heart. He was the one disciple who didn't see Jesus at that first appearance--and I am sure he wondered why.
Still, he had hope. It was buried deep inside of him, but he had hope. And what he wanted most of all was to simply touch Jesus, and know that everything was okay.
He wanted to know that it was okay to let that buried hope, rise.
And Jesus met him where he was, and Thomas found himself overwhelmed by hope and faith--so much so that he declares "My Lord and my God!"
His declaration is the most forceful, hope-filled declaration of Jesus' true identity found in the entirety of the Gospels.
Author Juliet Benner once wrote, "In my groping attempts to hold on to Jesus, I often find that rather than grasping him, instead I find myself held, grasped by him and carried by his wounded hands."
May you be filled with the courage to hope today and every day. May you allow yourself to be lifted by Jesus, to have your faith restored if it's been waning.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.