This Week’s Reflection Comes From
Rev. Krista Mendoza
Bethany Lutheran, Elmira
and Member of Synod Council

John 20:24
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “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.”

“But…..” it’s one of those words I tend to shrink back from. Everything is going along well until the person you are talking to winds up to the “but” part of the conversation.

“I liked it, but…..”

“that was a great meeting, but…..”

“thanks for helping me out, but……”

“you played a great game, but…”

I’m always waiting for those three letters when someone gives a compliment or when someone is sharing some good news. It’s like I’ve been trained to wait for the other shoe to drop. Here are the disciples all together having this incredible moment with Jesus who breaths on them and they receive the Holy Spirit. Here is this beautiful moment as Jesus, resurrected and standing before the ones who love him, shares that word, “peace be with you.” I imagine a stillness in the room after Jesus says those words; the kind of stillness that would allow you to hear that proverbial pin drop. As a listener on Sunday morning I feel a kind of excitement and joy as I hear these words and in my mind I am jumping up and down clapping for the disciples who have such a privilege to experience such a moment with the Lord. And I want to stop there. The story seems perfectly fine to me…..then… goes on, “BUT Thomas was not with them.” At this point in the story I’m wondering to myself, “why? Where did he go? What is he doing? Did the other disciples ask him to go get food or water? Why, oh, why Thomas are you missing? Jesus, why didn’t you wait for him to return?”

Now, I know that this text has the heading Doubting Thomas. However, let’s cut the poor guy a little slack. If we really stopped to think about it, I’m not sure how many of us would have reacted any differently. Look, I’m gullible. Super gullible….my friends derive endless entertainment from what they can make me believe with little to no effort. However, I do think I would be smart enough to call into question friends who tried to tell me that someone I saw die and saw buried had appeared to them from inside a locked room. I would want to see it for myself. Wouldn’t you? Let’s call Thomas grieving, exhausted, wanting to believe, needing something to hold and see; let’s call Thomas human.

So what does Jesus do with Thomas? For all of us who live as sincerely as possible, but fall short? For all of us who want to, but can’t seem to believe? Jesus shows up. Jesus acknowledges that there are those who will not need to see and will yet believe. But, but for those who need to see, Jesus is there. In the word of forgiveness, in the bread, in the wine, in the water and in the community of Christ (just to name a few). Jesus was there for Thomas, is there for you and will be there tomorrow. Amen!