“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.” John 20:25
I have recently spent some time reflecting on various art works that capture the resurrection of Jesus. There have been many interpretations of this incredible moment in history where Jesus is resurrected from the grave and is seen over a period of 11 weeks by about 500 people. Alive again, walking, talking, eating and spending time with those he had journeyed with before his crucifixion. Amazing!
Throughout history different generations of artists have tried to capture this moment using their incredible skill and creative minds. However, much of their work pictures Jesus floating out of the tomb with a halo surrounded by a bright radiant light. Whilst this is stunning to look at it left me with a couple of thoughts 1. I don’t really think like that when I consider Jesus coming back from the dead. 2. I don’t think that was how it actually looked in reality either.
Mary, who had journeyed with him for years, thought he was just the gardener and completely overlooked him. And of course there was Thomas. I want to touch on the Incredulity of Thomas, as depicted in the painting Doubting Thomas by Caravaggio.
In this painting you’ve got a dark scene, three fellas crowding around Jesus with one of the men, Thomas, being taken by the hand by Jesus so he can jab his finger into his side. The painting is raw and in some way it captures the grain and grit of the moment. There is no radiant sunlight or halo, it’s an open and deep wound being probed by Thomas’ doubting finger. It is actually a bit graphic, but there is something here that amazes me.
The expression on all the faces is capturing a moment that is almost a hush, a great secret about to explode into the world. Thomas’s eyes are full of doubt but like a blind man discovering sight, he is finding that his heart really can trust and the hope he had is returning.
Jesus didn’t condemn Thomas to the waste lands and kick him out of the close group because he doubted. No, Jesus did the opposite, he invited him closer to really see for himself. Maybe Easter Sunday for you is amazing but also at times too much to really comprehend. Don’t worry, I think Jesus invites us closer to really see him and know him. He has risen, have a look for yourself.