“My Lord and My God”
Once again, we’re looking at one of my favorite artists: Caravaggio. This large painting tells the story of the disciple Thomas who wasn’t around when Jesus first appeared after his death. Thomas wants proof; he wants to put his fingers in Christ’s wounds—then he will believe. Soon after saying this, he gets his chance.
On the left side is Christ, brilliantly lit. He has pulled aside the folds of his tunic with his right hand and grasped the wrist of Thomas with his left. The disciple, leaning forward and right up close to Jesus, stares incredulously with eyes wide open and brow furrowed. Jesus guides his index finger into the wound. The other two disciples are witnesses to the event, pressed in close and just as wide-eyed as their friend. Christ in his white tunic and illuminated by light stands in contrast to the disciples dressed in more contemporary, dark robes—an embodiment of light versus dark, divine knowledge versus human doubt.*
Thomas will be forever known as the one who questions. There is power in questions. They are important and even necessary in our walk with God. Doubt is not the opposite of faith but a dimension of it.
Imagine you had a good friend, but you never asked this friend any questions. Sure, you visited, and you did things together, but you never asked anything, like, “What do you think of this?’ Or, “how did your day go?” It’s fair to say that without questions, a relationship can’t get very far. Without questions, intimacy is stunted because there is only shallow engagement. God wants us to engage him and welcomes our doubts and questions.
We don’t know much about Thomas, but we do know that he was devoted to Jesus. When he realized Jesus was determined to go near Jerusalem at a time when it was dangerous to do so, he urged his fellow disciples to go with him and die with their Lord. (John 11:16) Chances are he would rather be remembered as Doubting Thomas than Gullible Thomas. Too much was at stake. And so he questions.
When he gets his wish to see the risen Christ, his words become the first creed of believers. “My Lord and my God!” He doesn’t say, “The Lord and the God,” or “A Lord and a God.” He makes it personal. Jesus is his!
Being Human connection: That’s the kind of intimacy that can come about from asking questions and engaging with the Risen Lord. Your Risen Lord.
Featured art: Caravaggio, “Doubting Thomas,” (Also known as “The Incredulity of St. Thomas”) 1601, Schloss Sanssouci. *This description of the painting is taken from the book, “Caravaggio: The Complete Works,” by Sebastian Schutze.