This morning, in Church I shared this painting with the congregation. No, I didn’t paint it! My drawing is pathetic. This was done by an artist called Caravagio in the 17th Century. Just take a moment and look at the expression on the faces. Take a look at where Thomas has placed his hand, imagine what his going through his mind.
Incredible isn’t it?
This painting is commonly called “Doubting Thomas”, however, Caravagio called it “The Incredulity of St Thomas”. I like that word “incredulity”, I like the way it sounds. It means;
The state of being unwilling or unable to believe something
So was Thomas unwilling or unable to believe?
The story is well known.
Jesus has been raised from the dead and has appeared to the disciples (all apart from Thomas, for some reason he wasn’t with them). For a whole week Thomas has heard “Jesus said this”, “I saw Jesus”, “so did I”. For a whole week he has heard nothing but resurrection encounters and, he is on the outside of it all. Jesus had not appeared to him!
So, Thomas is incredulous – unwilling or unable to believe.
I wonder if he felt rejected because, he was the only one who was uncertain in a world where others were so sure?
I have a bit of a soft spot for Thomas. You see, there are times when I can be incredulous, I become the Victor Meldrew of the Church “I don’t believe it”.
When others experience God in a particular way that I don’t – I can be incredulous
When God answers other peoples’ prayers and not mine – I can be incredulous
When God speaks to or through others and not me – I can be incredulous
When I beg and beg and beg God and nothing seems to happen – I can be incredulous
The story ends on a good note. Jesus appears and speaks to Thomas’ incredulity. Thomas experiences Jesus presence and is transformed by Him. But, I think Jesus also speaks to my incredulity in this story too;
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20 vs. 29)
Those who have not seen and yet believe must include people just like me!
To believe in Jesus is a choice to trust Him and take Him at His word whether I see the evidence for it, or not. It’s about trusting and keeping on trusting, no matter what. One verse from the Bible that really speaks to my incredulity is;
“Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” (Mark 9 vs. 24 – The Message)