Thomas famously vowed to doubt Jesus’ resurrection until he saw and touched Jesus’ crucifixion wounds for himself (John 20:19-31). As John reports it, however, it’s seeing and hearing Jesus that inspires Thomas’ belief. Nothing is written of Thomas touching Jesus’ wounds.
We can be grateful for that because if a physical appearance is required for belief, we would, so far, have been left out. The tens or hundreds who saw Jesus after his resurrection would have been it. Jesus’ blessing, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe,” would have been lost on the billions who have come to believe since his ascension to the Father.
How did they (we) come to believe? Not by touching Jesus’ wounds. Not by seeing his physical appearance. They (we) came to believe because the first disciples were willing to die before denouncing their Lord. And those who heard their stories were convinced enough to pray and worship and serve and give their lives to Jesus. They became the evidence that many sought – the evidence that Jesus was what the gospels profess him to be, including the Risen Christ who is both on high with the Father and who is present, never leaving or forsaking us.
Plenty of people have tried hard to “prove” Jesus’ resurrection by persuasive argument. Some have been convinced by that; others have become more dogmatically skeptical. When it comes to witnessing to our faith, what has been most effective across the centuries has been those who have lived in light of the resurrection, choosing to approach life as followers of the One who defeated sin and death and who continues to offer eternal hope. Jesus’ followers have been the evidence for their faith that words often fail to be.
Thomas may have thought he needed to put his fingers in Jesus’ side. Had he not been able to, he may still have come to believe. Spending enough time with his brothers and sisters may have “proved” to him what they claimed about Jesus because they lived in light of their claims.
Our Confirmation Class will make their public claims, their profession of faith, this Sunday at 11:15. It’s a highlight in the life of the church. I hope you’ll be with us to continue celebrating Jesus’ resurrection and those who are living in light of it.