This Sunday’s Gospel reading is John 20.19-31
But Thomas, one of the twelve… was not with [the other disciples] when Jesus came. So they were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
After eight days his disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see my hands; and reach here your hand and put it into my side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
We often talk about ‘doubting Thomas’, but perhaps we would be better calling him ‘honest Thomas,’ someone who says what he really thinks, rather than putting on a facade of holiness and right-thinking.
For Thomas’ confession is the most powerful in John’s Gospel, hailing Christ as his God. Honest wrestling with reality – the reality of God, and the reality of our doubts and fears – is an essential part of our journey. It’s important that it’s his wounds that identify Jesus. Easter doesn’t wipe out the cross, and turn the clock back. Jesus journey through the cross to resurrection takes us somewhere new. That’s an important part of a Christian understanding of forgiveness: our reconciliation to God and neighbour doesn’t turn the clock back, as if the sin had not happened. It can take us somewhere new, if we are all prepared to face our failings honestly, and learn from them.
In your prayers on Sunday, and in the week ahead, please remember the work the Church Urban Fund is doing on Growing Churches through Social Action – helping churches to embody and proclaim the transforming message of Easter. Please also remember the work the Contextual Theology Centre is doing on Christian apologetics, including its developing partnerships with Theos think tank and St Mellitus College, London.