Thursday, December 21, 2006

St. Thomas, Apostle

Today, December 21, the Christian Church marks the martyrdom of St. Thomas. Tradition holds that Thomas was speared to death near Madras, India and died three days later, on this day in AD 72. Accordingly he is often pictured holding a spear as paintings of martyrs often show them holding or accompanied by the instruments with which they were put to death. Ironic, given Thomas demand to place his hand in the hole made by the soldier's spear in his dear Savior's side.

Here is a picture (one of my favorites) and devotion to commemorate the occasion.

Higher Things Daily Reflections

December 21, 2006-Thursday in the Third Week of Advent, St. Thomas the ApostleDaily Lectionary: Isaiah 42:1-25, Revelation 9:1-12

Readings for the Day: Habakkuk 2:1-4, Ephesians 1:3-6, John 20:24-31

“Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands and put your hand here and place it in my side and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (St. John 20:24-31)

What a wonderful gift St. Thomas is to you. Just like you, Thomas needs to see things for himself. He doesn’t merely want to believe that Jesus has risen from the dead – he wants to see “real” proof. And who can blame him? Isn’t that what you want, too – for the Lord to show you something “real” as proof that He is your Savior?

In order for Thomas to believe, he needs something he can sink his teeth into – or rather, something he can sink his hand and fingers into. Like the crucifixion hole left by a steel spike. Like the jagged gash left by a Roman spear. These are the things that Thomas considers as “real.” They are real to Thomas, because he had seen them with his own eyes.

He had seen Jesus taken into custody, marched up the hill to Golgotha, seen the Roman soldiers nail Jesus to the cross, heard the dying gasps, seen the blood pour from the spear-wound, and seen the dead body of Jesus placed in the grave. These are the things that Thomas considers “real” because he has seen them with his own eyes. And because he has seen them – he believes them.

Except, Thomas has this problem. According to the Lord – seeing is not believing. Believing is actually the opposite of seeing. To believe – to have faith – is to trust in that which can not be seen. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for – the evidence of things not seen,” the Lord has told you. (Hebrews 11:1)

Like Thomas, you are constantly tempted to think that the earthly things that you can see and touch that which is truly “real.” But they are not. They will all one day pass away. Even though you see them, feel them, experience them – they are not truly “real.”

This is why you thank God for Thomas today. It is to Thomas – and to you – that Jesus shows what is truly real. Hands pierced for your salvation. The opened side from which the River of Life eternally flows. A resurrected Body which destroys death forever. No longer are sin, suffering, pain and death real. Now, what is real for you is resurrection and eternal life. Thus, Jesus tells you, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Advent 2006 Reflections were written by the Rev. Daniel Feusse ( ), pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in Clearwater, NE.

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