Edmon L. Rowell, Jr., is Senior Editor of Mercer University Press in Macon, Georgia. In his more than forty years as pastor, preacher, Bible study leader, and classroom instructor, Rowell has served in his home state of Alabama, and in North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia.
Thomas's Question, Easter's Answer
An excerpt from Finding God in the Rest of the Story
by Edmon L. Rowell, Jr.
Thomas didn't have to touch. He just fell to his knees and confessed, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus responded that those who "come to believe," even though they don't see Jesus in the flesh, will be blessed. That's when John added his explanation that all the gospel stories were told "so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name."
You see, the confession of Thomas--"My Lord and my God!"--is really the climax of the Gospel of John. That confession is the purpose of the whole gospel story--that those who hear the story might believe and through believing might have life.
Don't look with disfavor on Thomas. Thomas was a leader among the disciples when they were afraid. Thomas asked some of the right questions at the right time so you and I may benefit from answer to questions we need answer to. And Thomas said out loud what all of us probably have thought: "This is too good to be true." After all, it's when we have the good sense to think something is too good to be true that we learn for sure it is too good not to be true.
Easter really is the answer to our deepest questions. Long ago, in his melancholy, Job asked, "If a person dies, shall that person live again?" That's not just Job's question. It was Thomas's question. It is your question and mine. Easter says, Yes. "Because I live," Jesus said, "you also will live."
That's Easter's answer to life's great question. All of us are aching to know that answer. Many of us are afraid to ask the question, afraid of the world's ridicule, or the world's scorn, or even the scorn of those who mistakenly think it is sinful to ask questions. But not Thomas. He was not afraid to ask the right questions. He was not afraid even to express his doubts out loud.
From that point on we don't for sure know much about Thomas. Several different traditions say he carried the gospel to India and established churches there. (We do know that there are some strong churches in India that go back to the very beginnings of the church, in fact back to the time of Thomas.) But I think Thomas's faith was stronger and his commitment deeper because he was not afraid to ask the questions to which all of us want answers.
Easter? Easter came just in time again this year, didn't it? Just in time to remind us that the important questions of life already have been answered, some of them in an upper room among folks just like you and me, frightened and shut up against the imagined and real hurts of the world. Some of those answers have come to us free of charge, with no risk of embarrassment or ridicule, because "questioning Thomas" had the good sense and the courage to ask out loud.
Yes, Thomas, Jesus is alive. And because Jesus Lives, you will live also.
Just one more word. The resurrection becomes real for you and for me only when Jesus lives and rules in our hearts and lives.
According to John, at least one reason Thomas asked questions was so you and I finally might believe, and declare with Thomas, "My Lord! My God!"
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