by Lilly Lewin
This week, the lectionary reading keeps the Easter story going with a look at Thomas in John 20. I’ve always loved Thomas. He isn’t afraid to say what he thinks and he asks great questions…
“Master, we don’t know where you’re going, so how could we know the way there?” and Jesus answers him, with “I AM THE WAY, the truth, and the Life. ” (John 14:4-6) In the midst of social distancing and the strangeness of this pandemic you may be feeling a lot like Thomas. We all want to know what’s real and we all have lots of questions! And if you are like me, you really want to touch Jesus and know he’s here!
I’ve always loved this painting by Caravaggio called “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” painted in 1602. It helps me visualize the scene.
CONSIDER THE PAINTING. Look at it closely. Spend some time.
Allow God to speak to you. Look, Consider and Listen…
NOW READ THE TEXT …put your imagination to work…picture the story in your mind.
Read the passage 2-3 times and soak it in. You can even check out different versions at Bible Gateway.
John 20: 19-29
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Some questions to consider, you might take time to journal from them.
What speaks to you today? What do you notice from the passage that you didn’t notice before?
How does the painting help you understand the passage?
Is there an aspect of the painting that stands out?
What emotions, feelings come up as you reflect on the painting and the passage?
Is there a word or phrase in the passage that leaps out at you?
Do you find yourself in the room the first time Jesus appears or the second?
Are you feeling the Peace of Christ with you today? Or are you in need of more peace?
Are you having an easy time of believing right now or do you need Jesus to prove himself…to prove he’s real?
TALK to God about this..
It’s totally OK with God if you have doubts…God’s not afraid of your doubts or your questions …
In the midst of social distancing and the strangeness of this pandemic you may be feeling a lot like Thomas. Talk to Jesus about where you are and what you are feeling.
What would it take for you to believe right now?
What things help you see, touch, feel and experience Jesus?
Allow God to show you…
Take time to TOUCH JESUS’ Wounds today. Jesus is here in our fear, in our anxiety and in our suffering.
How does that feel?
Jesus is willing to show you his hands, his feet and let you touch his side…
ARE YOU WILLING to let Him? ARE YOU WILLING to touch him and allow him to help you believe again?
ALLOW Jesus to hold your doubts and fears and your unbelief today.
My good friend artist Scott Erickson has a great image and meditation relating to Thomas that he posted on Instagram this week. Check it out and read his meditation/reflection How does his painting help you understand the passage in John?
Watch this video describing Caravaggio’s painting
Check out this link for more contemporary views of this painting, Which one speaks to you?
©lillylewin and freerangeworship.com