24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
We are not told why Thomas was not present with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them. Perhaps he was out, occupying himself with practical affairs, matters that had to be attended to. Perhaps he had an important job that needed his attention, or friends and family needed him. Thomas represents the rational, critical aspect of mind, and our rational minds always have very good reasons for not sharing in spiritual work and activity. That is why the rational, sceptical person misses out on the great spiritual experience. Thomas represents the destructive thoughts that say to us, this spiritual activity doesn’t work, I’m going to tend to other affairs of my life. Thus, when others have a spiritual experience, the Thomas mind cannot accept that it is real.
Jesus must have loved Thomas very much. It is important that we should not accept everything that others say to us at face value. It is important to be sceptical about outrageous claims. It is important to think. Christ can use our thinking, rational mind. It must be transformed first, but Christ will do this.
Jesus appears to Thomas. He gives him the proof he had required. Thomas can physically touch the wounds of Christ. This is different from the experience of Mary Magdalene, who couldn’t touch Christ. Christ too is evolving. The resurrection is not an end, it is a beginning. Much will change within the spiritual worlds, and much will change within the psyche of humanity. These changes are the fifty steps of the Path to Pentecost.
Once again, there are many famous paintings by renowned artists of this scene. There is something very real, though, about the way Caravaggio has portrayed the incredible physical reality of the confrontation of Thomas with the risen Christ. Thomas needs actual bodily contact to convince him. “The intellect has to be confronted with the exact nature of spiritual reality.”
We have taken another step upon the Path to Pentecost. Now our intellect, our logical, reasoning has to become part of this path. During this day we can imagine the incredible shock of the reasoning mind when it makes contact with the very injuries it had denied. Every so often, repeat the words, “Christ is transforming my thinking...”
Five o’clock in the morning, when the sun had just come up, after not sleeping the whole night, out of their minds with grief, these women came to the grave to pay their last respects. When they came the stone was rolled away and two glorious figures were sitting there staring at them, saying, “Go away, the Lord is risen.”
They ran out and said, “Peter, John, Thomas, the Lord is risen!” Thomas said, “No, when I put my fingers in his wounds, touch his side where the spear penetrated, then I will believe.”
My intellect must understand the resurrection story, yet we are dealing with the greatest mystery of mankind, and intellect cannot understand the workings of the spirit.
Do you know what the story of St Thomas is telling me? That the intellect will have to be confronted with the exact nature of spiritual reality. “Thomas,” says Spirit, “Come here. Put your hands in my side and your finger in my hands.” Go beyond thinking. Experience now the beauty of the resurrection power. Think no more. Put your hands out.
Rev Mario Schoenmaker, The Intellect Confronted by Spirit, April, 1977