Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Thrust Of Things

John 20 and Acts 2 contain incredible stories because we are peeking into the window on the earliest days of the church. We get to visit those days in the weeks after Easter and imagine what it was like based on the stories we have been given. How can I not love Thomas? The author of John places all the doubts of succeeding generations upon his shoulders. I find it interesting that I read the text differently depending on my place in life.
Is Thomas tentative about his faith or determinedly resistant? Does he look away from the other disciples, jealous that he was not present to see Jesus and scoff at their revelation and excitement? Or does he stare into the eyes of his friends and dare them to prove what they have seen?
The Greek word translated as 'put' (as in "unless I put my finger..") is balo; the root for throw. So we could translate the end of v.25 as ". . . unless I thrust my hand into his side, I will never believe." Not a tentative statement at all! I have always been impressed that Jesus then comes and offers Thomas exactly what he has asked for, or should we say demanded! Take a look at Caravaggio's painting of the scene. It's even more dramatic than my imagining.

The disciples have amazing experiences in and out of their locked room. They cannot hide from the risen Lord. They cannot rest in their fears and sorrow. The Risen Christ makes demands on them. Perhaps this is why he is so willing to meet Thomas' demand.

When I read on into Acts and the text for Sunday from chapter 2, I see just how faith forming the post resurrection experiences have been for the disciples. Peter speaks in a sure and certain voice when he says that God "raised Jesus up having freed him from death because it was impossible for him to be held in its power." (v.24)

What conclusion do I draw? If we are as honest about our doubts and as passionate about demanding answers as Thomas, we can end up as as passionate and inspired about sharing what we have learned.

I wonder what title that concept would get in a faith-forming discipleship book?

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