Week of: April 28, 2019
Scripture: John 20:19-31
Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.
(John 20:25, NRSV)
One of the most famous depictions of “Doubting Thomas” in art is Caravaggio's The Incredulity of Saint Thomas. Looking at this artwork, I encourage you to reflect on Caravaggio's interpretation of this story. Notice Thomas' hands in Jesus' side. Look at who is guiding his hand into the wound. Observe the onlookers' faces.
Thomas gets a bad rap in some ways. Thomas was not there at Jesus' first appearance. He hears the story secondhand and perhaps thought the disciples were tricking him. Despite Thomas' doubting, Jesus comes to remove Thomas' doubt and to reassure him that the resurrection was real.
In scripture, Jesus tells Thomas to touch his wounds; yet, in Caravaggio's depiction, Jesus places Thomas' hand in his side. I imagine that Jesus' grasp alone would cause Thomas to no longer doubt; even so, Jesus affirms that he heard Thomas' doubts and allows him to touch his wounds.
The disciples' reaction to this moment between Thomas and Jesus is not in scripture. Yet, in Caravaggio's painting, we see two disciples looking on as if, perhaps, they also doubted. We can suppose that they were glad Thomas asked the question that begged an answer. Perhaps we can put ourselves in their shoes.
We were not among the disciples when Jesus appeared the first or second times. But Jesus offers us a blessing by saying, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." May we overcome our doubts and faithfully believe in the resurrected Christ as we empower God's people to lead worship through the arts.
Living God, at times we are like Thomas, doubting your ability to perform miracles. In those times, give us Jesus, that we might be touched by his grace and love. Help us to believe without seeing, that our faith may be blessed by your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rev. Taylor Driskill Pafford
Deacon in Full Connection
Associate Minister, Children, Youth and Families
Washington Street United Methodist Church
Photo: Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da, 1573-1610. The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54170. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas_by_Caravaggio.jpg.