I’ve always felt that Thomas gets a bad rep. We call him “Doubting Thomas” because of one momentary lapse of demanding “proof” of Jesus’ resurrection. In his defense, he wasn’t there when all of other disciples had this great resurrection experience with Jesus. I guess I’ve always had sympathy for the guy; I just know I wouldn’t want to be remembered for my worst moment.
I’ve always been fascinated by the account in John 20 when Thomas finally does see Jesus. The risen Christ implores Thomas to reach out and touch Him. It’s as if Jesus is saying to Thomas, “I know you need something a little tactile here, so go ahead. Whatever it takes for you to believe.” And I find this comforting, because there are times in my life when I, too, need a little tactile reinforcement from God. Sure, there are times when we accept His promises at face value, end of story. But there are other times, at least in my own faith, when I like to see God’s handiwork. I like to know He’s present. I like to see an answered prayer. I like to see evidence of His goodness, His glory. Like Thomas, I have an inclination to want to see, to touch, to feel in order to believe.
But there’s also something beautifully understated in John’s retelling of the story. Although Jesus appears bodily to Thomas and beseeches Him to touch His side, Thomas never does. For Thomas, you get the impression that it was enough for Jesus to make the effort. Jesus appears, addressing Thomas’ doubts and reservations, and all Thomas knows to do is to fall to his knees and confess, “My Lord and my God!”
I could be wrong, but I’ve always pictured Jesus’ post-Easter body as being covered in scars. I imagine Thomas seeing the scars on Christ’s wrists and side and those scars tell the story of incredible love and hope, validating the history-altering message of Christ’s Gospel. For Thomas, I believe the scars helped make it true.
But we might ask, “How does Jesus have scars?” Or, more precisely, “How does Jesus have scars yet?” If you and I had been nailed to a cross, after three days we wouldn’t have scars; we would still have wounds. Yet, Jesus has been glorified; he has been raised from the dead. His glorified body is the firstfruits of the resurrection, an indicator of the kind of bodies we all will receive in eternity. And yet, even in His glorified state, Jesus still has scars.
And in a weird way, I find this comforting, too. Why? Because scars are indicators that healing has occurred. And healing is an indication of God’s power to redeem and restore. Therefore, these scars become permanent reminders of the power and glory of God Almighty. And as I look back over my own life, I can see the scars I’ve accumulated over the years. And just like Thomas, the scars help make it true for me, too. In my scars, I find the One who gives purpose to my pain. I find the One who binds up my wounds (Psalm 147.3), the One whose wounds bring me healing (Isa 53.5). My scars can never measure up to His, but it’s comforting to know He has them, too.
Jesus is God…with scars.
And like Thomas, I can worship a God like that. “My Lord and my God!” Indeed.