John 20 19-31
Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house.
Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side.
The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”
Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”
But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.” But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he focused his attention on Thomas.
“Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”
Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”
Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”
Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.
John is writing to Christians who will never ‘see’ Jesus with their eyes, their fingers and their hands. So maybe a better translation should be that ‘blessed are those who have not had physical contact with Jesus and yet ‘see’ and believe’?
And actually, we cannot believe in a Jesus we have not seen. We can learn the words, read the stories, follow the instructions. We can hope and we can pray. And we can do that every day, all of our lives. We can be active for social justice, we can live in a Christian culture, we can belong and be involved in a parish – all very good, all very human. Perhaps to believe in the human Jesus – the Nazarene – is enough to make us want to just be better people – as he was ‘the best of us’.
We don’t need to believe in a Risen Christ for that. But to take the journey that step further – to enter into God, for God to enter into me – I have to see – encounter the Cosmic everythingness of Christ. And that is not just with eyes, fingers, hands but with heart and soul and every atom of who I am. Even just once, to know the Presence, to recognise the Absence. To be happy to believe.