April 21, 2017

The Healthy Skeptic

John 20:19-29

Unless I see the nail marks in his hands . . . and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.

—  John 20:25

We often call him “Doubting Thomas,” but he’s more a healthy skeptic than an unbeliever. He’s skeptical about the preposterous story of seeing Jesus alive again. We don’t know where Thomas was on the night of Resurrection Sunday, but he wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus visited them in a locked room, showed them his wounds, and blessed them.

When Thomas returned, they told him they had seen Jesus. But after the crucifixion’s disappointment, Thomas would have to see and touch Jesus’ wounds for himself. Thomas wasn’t being stubborn. His world had collapsed. He’d been all in for Jesus, ready to die with him (John 11:16). Now, still grieving, Thomas was skeptical about the disciples’ bizarre story. Who could blame him?

A week later Jesus came to visit again, while Thomas was there. Thomas touched Jesus’ wounds and professed in faith, “My Lord and my God!” It’s the first record we have of any disciple calling Jesus “God.” In an instant, skepticism became faith. Our gracious Lord answered Thomas’s questions and made him a grateful disciple. Then Jesus added a blessing for all of us who cannot see and touch the resurrected Christ but must believe the disciples’ testimony. Let’s share Thomas’s profession of faith, saying, “My Lord and my God!”

Dear Lord, sometimes the whole story of what you did for us is hard to believe. We’re often just as skeptical as Thomas. Give us the faith to say with him: “My Lord and my God!” Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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