Ten of the disciples had seen the risen Lord. Judas was gone. Thomas had missed
the visit. When he got the news he suggested that he would have to see and
handle the physical evidence of Jesus’ victory over the grave.
I do not
know the spirit in which he made his statement. Was it confrontational as if to
say, “I’m from Missouri, boys and you’re going to have to give me hard
evidence”? Was it issued out of a humble and contrite heart as if to say, “I
mustn’t be as faithful as you fellows. You’re going to have to help me with my
unbelief. Simple words won’t take me across”?
But Jesus did return for an
appearance with Thomas present, perhaps specially for him, and he said, ” behold
my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side.” The word
“thrust” suggests violence similar to the spear thrust of the Roman soldier into
that side to corroborate death.
In the last few months Jesus had
repeatedly forecast that he would be arrested, humiliated, murdered, but then
three days later raised from the dead. He was hurt by Thomas’ unbelief and he
allowed a rebuke of some magnitude that the chastening might work a
strengthening work in the “doubter”. Just a moment of tough
“Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
Thomas would become one of that number. Tradition tells us that he was martyred
for his testimony in India.
Teaching in today’s Church often employs the
thrust as if to reinforce the Word and Promise of God with other evidence,
logic, archeological confirmation, Josephus, argument, etc. But the Word is
God’s word and it stands above and before any other means of persuasion. Still
it must be received in faith, trust and love, and interpreted in the Spirit, or not at all.
where Christian apologetics will stumble – the thrust.