Doubting Thomases - April 23, 2017
Every day, at least once (and sometimes more), a strange little ritual takes place at church. We have those automatic sliding doors which open and close when you arrive and leave. But when the last person goes they set the key to a different position. The doors close automatically behind them and now no-one can get in without a fob key. Now you might imagine this last person to march confidently out towards the road, but no. He or she will invariably stop, turn round, walk right up to the doors just to check that they are indeed closed and won’t open again.
You might put this down to lack of faith - either in themselves to have done things right, or in the technology which they don’t understand or trust completely. I think it’s more a cautious faith rather than a blind one, actually. They know it’s probably worked, but they just want to be absolutely certain. And that’s probably no bad thing! Doubting Thomases are often worth their weight in gold.
I feel rather sorry for Thomas, Jesus’ disciple who got landed with the soubriquet of ‘Doubting Thomas’. He wasn’t around when the risen Lord appeared to the other disciples, so his experience was different. He couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing. There are different kinds of doubts. At one extreme there is the doubt that gnaws away at faith, destroys it and tears it apart from the inside. There’s another kind that just wants answers to certain questions before taking further steps, that is cautious and wants a bit of certainty. That’s where Thomas is. At the other extreme is a blind, unquestioning faith, which might actually be quite dangerous.
One final word for Thomas. A week later Jesus came to the disciples when the doors were shut - he still got in, even with no fob key - he made a point of talking to Thomas. ‘Reach out and put your hands in my side’, he said. Thomas didn’t. This ‘doubter’ simply gave the strongest confession of faith that you will find anywhere in the Gospels: My Lord and my God! Doubting Thomases, take note.
Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’