....Peter andtheBeloved Disciple seethegrave clothes neatly arranged, like a priest’s aftertheday of atonement. They enterthetomb, but neither speaks to or of Jesus until he joins them later for a seaside breakfast. Throughout John’s resurrection story,theleading disciples remain utterly, ambiguously silent. Even after they hear Mary’s “I have seentheLord,”thedisciples stay locked in a room, hiding fromtheJews.Allthedisciples, not just Thomas, struggle to believe news too glad to be true.
What makes Thomas unique is not his sluggishness but the fact that he doesn’t see Jesus on Easter, the first eighth day. When Jesus breathes fresh Pentecostal Spirit into the disciples (making them new Adams), sends them to continue his mission, and gives them authority to forgive sins, Thomas isn’t there.
Thomas listens with sarcastic skepticism. He wants the others to produce Jesus so he can touch the nail prints and handle the scar in Jesus’s side wherethe rib was removed to form the new Eve. It’s an inauspicious beginning to the apostolic mission: Their first evangelistic contact is one of the twelve, and they can’t even convince him.
When he appears on the eighth day, Jesus offers himself to Thomas’s inspection. John says in his first letter that the apostles “handled” the word of life, but the Gospel doesn’t tell us if Thomas took Jesus up on his offer. John doesn’t record any Caravaggio-esque finger probe. Jesus’s presence convinces, and Thomas becomes a son of God not by thewill of flesh or man but by an utterance from the risen Word.
Criticize Thomas if you must, but he confesses Jesus before Peter or John does. Mary sees “the Lord,” and the ten apostles tell Thomas they “saw the Lord.” Thomas sees Jesus’s wounds and worships, for thewounds prove that Jesus is “my Lord and my God,” the same Yahweh-Elohim who planted a garden for the first man. It’s the climactic confession of John’s Gospel; canonically, it’s also the high point of the fourfold Gospel. Thomas’s confession is the confession of Mary and the apostles, raised an octave. . . .