Wednesday, December 21, 2011

St. Thomas the Faithful

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio
Growing up I had always heard about the apostle who would only believe Jesus had risen from the dead if he could see and touch his wounds. (John 20:25) He was called doubting Thomas. I also remember sermons on how faith came to him when he was brought back into community. It was because he was absent from the upper room that he did not believe. The moral of the story, don't miss church.

In reality Thomas knew what to look for. He knew that by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5) When faced with the gruesome reality of the scars of torture and death and the subsequent conquering of it by this carpenter/rabbi, Thomas could proclaim, "My Lord and My God." (John 20:28) If anything, this is a statement of absolute faith!

Unfortunately, growing up in church, I really did not understand what Christ's death and resurrection was really about. Much of what I heard was God loves me and there will be a pizza party for the youth next Sunday night.    No one really explained to me what was meant by this propitiation for sins, substitutionary atonement or a perfect sacrifice once offered. If I wanted to see God, I had to come to church. Thomas on the other hand wanted to see the marks of Jesus death, the signs of his personal salvation.

When we exclaim, 'My Lord and my God', we should see the wounds meant for us each time we break God's law. After all, sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4) Thomas knew that. For any of us to have a saving faith, we need to know that Jesus stood in our place on that bloody cross. We die because we are sinners. Yet eternal life is for those who believe that Jesus died for them thereby removing the sting of death which is hell. When Thomas saw Jesus, he saw the Man who stood in his place and that is faith!

As Christians, our invitation should not be 'Come to church' but Jesus died so that we may have eternal life. Even Jesus reminds us, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed!" (John 20:29)