A sermon given during the 10:30am Sung Eucharist, by The Rt Rev’d Chris McLeod, on the 16th April 2023.
But Thomas said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’ (John 20: 25)
I would imagine that many of us would have some sympathy with ‘Doubting Thomas’. We live in a world where many truth claims are made, and there is a lot of misinformation being spread through social media and unreliable news sites. It is becoming very hard to trust what you read, and it is not unreasonable to question the information being so easily put before us. On the other hand, many who are gullible just believe whatever they read; often because they simply want to believe it (think Q Anon, and other conspiracy theorists, etc). I think Thomas’ doubting is perfectly sane and reasonable – ‘unless I see it, I don’t believe it’.
The story of Thomas is given to us as a witness. The early church community would have known Thomas and his story. They would have known that Thomas, who doubted, became the one who believed. They might have had a chance to interrogate him and to see whether what he said is true. John records the story so it would be of help for those who struggle to accept the resurrection of Jesus. In effect, John is saying here is one like you; one who finds it had to believe, and he is an Apostle. Converted doubters stand in good company, and I would have to say that I am one of them!
I remind you of what I said last week that what seemed to end in disaster on Good Friday – the death of Jesus and abandonment of Jesus by most of the disciples – becomes a transformed story. The hearts and minds of the frightened disciples become transformed because Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead. Thomas, who at first doubted, became a witness to the resurrection of Jesus along with the other disciples. His story is given to us so we might believe, as well.
The Journey of Faith
The journey of faith takes time for many of us. Some people believe outright and almost immediately; for others it is a longer journey of inching towards to the truth. In some circles there seems to be an expected formula that people need to work through before becoming a Christian. However, I find the journey of faith can be a lot messier than that. It can be full of false starts and circular travels. Many of us have a few goes at believing before we reach a satisfying position. Thomas is a role model for us in many ways. He moves from doubt to robust belief. He comes to a wonderful Trinitarian confession of Jesus as ‘my Lord and my God’ at the experience of meeting the risen Jesus.
Many of you might be still on the journey from doubt to belief, or perhaps even circled back, fear not God reaches out to us and meets us where we are. In time we will join Thomas in a robust statement of confidence. Those of us who have been on the journey of faith for sometime are here to help, and I don’t just mean the clergy. We are companions, doubters and believers, believers who were doubters, and believers who may now have become doubters, and those in-between. Jesus meets us as we are, shows us his hands and his side and draws us closer to him.