“Seeing is believing” is a phrase said by skeptics and cynics alike. No one wants to be conned out of right reason or resources. Skepticism at least does serve a purpose for survival.
In the wake of Easter with empty plastic egg shells and tummy aches from too much chocolate, there can be Christian faithful that take faith for granted and cynics who over-emphasize reason. Christians could look at the central reason for Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, as a nice historical bump and not see lessons of faith where light has not dawned in suffering or God seems to mysterious. The cynics could err on an extreme called scientism which is that if it is not quantified and measured conventionally then it is not real.
So what is a Christian believer to believe, how is one to believe it and yet not abandon reason? We have a lesson on that on the original “doubting Thomas” who is actually named Apostle Thomas.
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed.Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”(John 20:21-29).
We just saw Jesus christen, literally, the Church. He breathed the spirit which was an extension of the third person of the Blessed Trinity which is the Holy Spirit. The Church has a mission because from here it isa mission. Thomas was not present but neither was his sense of unity to his work which includes the Church.
There are several misguided presumptions Thomas made that kept him in the cynical side that prevents faith instead of facilitating it. This was not just a collection of fishermen, teacher, tax collector or revolutionaries. These were his brothers with whom he has had fellowship and a context of truth and power already demonstrated. Just for those latter truths alone he could and should have inquired. Augustine said he would not have believed the gospel had it not been for the Church.
Second, Thomas had already believed in an objective truth. He had even declared willingness to die with Jesus when they were heading back to a dangerous area once (John 11). It would have been worth it for Thomas to choose to respond from what he already believes than react from what makes sense in the moment. By choosing the latter he was inherently inattentive to the moral obligation to seek truth at least from what he knows. And what he knew was that the man he called Messiah had said he would rise from the dead no less than three times.
Third, he was making the error of what amounted to a proto-scientism. “Unless I see in His hands….” is establishing God’s kingdom to meet his mindset for it to really true. That is presumption and not the faith God wants.
My Lord and my God!-– – Thomas touches humanity, connects the meaning of the resurrection unique to Jesus Christ and connects to how he is also divine. We can appreciate the cross but we must remember it is not fully in context unless we appreciate the resurrection for all that Jesus is and all that he did and does in “how hewas delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification”(Romans 4:25).
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed– – Jesus speaks an inconvenient truth for a fallen world to hear. The fallen world wants things lined up and delivered per a contract for good and services. But in Christ is the New Covenant which is a communion of persons.
It is for this perspective I affirm the truth of Christ being all the gospel says. “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer” (2 Corinthians 5:16). So each Sunday, when I am in line to receive Jesus in his body, blood, soul and divinity I confess in faith Jesus is my Lord and God.