If there is any man or woman in the John 20
with whom I most identify it is the disciple named, Thomas. In so many ways, I am Thomas.
Do you find that a startling revelation? You might have thought of me more akin to Peter, in his brashness and overconfidence. Peter, in his passion and powerful voice. Peter, in his aggressiveness and masked cowardice.
True. There is some of Peter in me, the weaker parts, the foolish parts, the parts that long to be the first in line, the last to leave, the one to know. Yet in a deeper way, I have always been Thomas, that is to say, the Thomas of the "upper room."
The great Christian writer Philip Yancey once said that faith is best defined as "Believing in advance in something that will only seem logical when seen in reverse." That was Thomas, convinced of the logic of it all when seen in reverse. That is me, often living my faith with perfect 20/20 hindsight. Perhaps, that is you, too, if you'll admit it.
"There's no one in the tomb!" They shouted. "Thomas, did you hear us? We have seen the Lord!"
Yet, all that rang in his ears, then, and keeps ringing in our ears, today, are the loud voices of disbelief: "This can't be possible!" They say. "It must be a trick. They must have stolen the body. How can we trust these witnesses? Show me the holes of His hands and the holes of His feet." Or in the vernacular of today's materialistically obsessed culture, "Show me the money!"
Isn't it a wonder, with all these voices clamoring in our ears, that people actually come to church on this day, year after year? That you've dressed yourselves? Given up the comfort of your beds? Perhaps the warmth of a lover's grasp? The children's playful tickles? The morning paper? The pre-game shows? For myself, it is always an awesome wonder.
You see, I never started out to stand in this pulpit. I never dreamed I'd be a spokesman for the Almighty. I had other plans. Simpler plans. I wanted the tangible, the graspable. I longed to know the world like a banker knows the smell of currency or the scientist the elements of the earth. I never dreamed of knowing the world the way a painter knows the canvas or a player the notes of the score. I wanted what I could hold in my hands, feel against the flesh of my skin, see and behold with my very own eyes! "Seeing is believing," I would say. "Give me a life without mystery, without ambiguity, without vulnerability!"
Yet, as A. B. Simpson reminds us, "Easter is the New Year's Day of the soul."1 It was Thomas' New Year's Day, when after the resurrection he touched the holes in the hands of our Master, and saw the logic of the resurrection unfolded before him through the lenses of hindsight. It was my New Year's Day, a number of years ago, when I pledged, again, my fidelity to Him, after years of seeking after my own gods and my own purposes. And it can be your New Year's Day, too, if you would but look at the wounds of His body with believing eyes!