The Audacity of Resurrection Hope


Now Thomas (called 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 it.”

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.”

–John 20:24-29

Thomas called it right–it was audacious. And I would have been right there with him, saying the same thing.

But in this version of The Incredulity of Thomas by Carravaggio (c. 1601-1602), Thomas is joined by others who seem interested in finding out if those wounds are real. I wonder who these two might be?

I’m guessing the balding guy with the beard is Peter. And I’m wondering if the other one just might be John, although he pretty much hung the “doubting” rap on Thomas alone. Do you really think the others had no doubts, or were they too looking on as Thomas put his finger in Jesus’ side and thinking to themselves, Whew, Thank God it’s true after all!?

Oh well, I guess the last one standing gets the last word.

  1. Brady

    Thanks for the question… Okay, you ready for what I think? John got it faster than the others. He ran faster. He understood faster. (But hey, no pride, just the facts.)

    However, doubts persisted among the disciples, no matter who the writer was (see Matthew 28 and Mark 16 where unbelief is manifest throughout…)

    The struggle with belief, I think, is not just “Is Jesus back alive again?”, but rather, “Is this the one who is the promised Messiah, even though he’s not going to hang around here and meet all those other Messianic expectations we’ve still got?” According to John, Ascension would be harder to believe than crucifixion (a real scandal) and even resurrection (“Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!” John 6.61-62).

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    Brady, thanks for those insights, especially regarding the Messianic expectations that I had not considered in that context.

    I’ve always been a little suspicious of John–there he was, last one standing, able to spin it whichever way he chose. We do know from the other Gospel writers that there were some apparent ego issues there (eg, who gets to sit with Jesus in heaven). Funny how John left that one out.

    But then again, when you read back up in the text, you find that Jesus has already showed his wounds to the others prior to Thomas. So really, Thomas is merely asking for the same level of proof that had already been provided to his peers (we’re not told if they asked to see the wounds or not). Perhaps Jesus’ gentle scolding is for everyone in the room, and not just for Thomas.

    As for the blessing–I’ll take it!

  3. mmlace

    Good question, Dr. Eyeguy…I hadn’t ever really thought of that before! Thanks for sharing!

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