Caravaggio painted his The Incredulity of St. Thomas sometime around the turn of the seventeenth century. Jesus (in white linen) stands to the left, Thomas is next to him (in a thread-bare red shirt), and Jesus is guiding Thomas’s hand as Thomas places his finger in the wound just under Jesus’ right breast. Two other disciples, also in red, hover in the scene
When a friend got a major scar, the doctors asked her what kind of plastic surgery she wanted. She laughed at the question, responding, “Are you serious? Do you really think I’m going to give up these bragging rights? I earned this scar!”
Thomas used to shock me. I agreed with John Calvin that “the stupidity of Thomas was astonishing and monstrous . . . he was not only obstinate, but also proud and contemptuous in his treatment of Christ.” To be called a Doubting Thomas would have been a soul-shaking insult to my faith.
Hey you! Don’t even think of parking that sermon near this playground! Take your Doubting-Thomas-Mobile to some other lot. Don’t even wait here with your motor running. OK—maybe it sounds like I don’t have a life. But Bible people are real to me. And my relationships with them change as I mature, just as you come to appreciate relatives at family reunions.
So where was Thomas anyway that first Easter evening? In my childhood Sunday school classes, Thomas was a “bad guy.” When the other ten disciples told him that Jesus was alive after his crucifixion, Thomas refused to believe it. He separated himself from the others and demanded to see Christ for himself.
Support the Christian Century
The Century's work relies primarily on subscriptions and donations. Thank you for supporting nonprofit journalism.