There’s no doubt that the story of Thomas teaches us quite a bit about ourselves. It makes us feel better about the moments our faith falters and we start to require some sort of evidence that God is Who He says He is. If even a superstar of faith like Thomas, someone who knew Christ personally and had walked with Him for many years, could have questions, then how many more I have!
But what I’m coming to appreciate more than Thomas’s role in this whole encounter…is what it says about Christ. And I’m not talking about His patience or His willingness to answer our doubts and show Himself.
I’m talking about His hands.
We are told that Thomas touched Christ’s nail-pierced hands. We hear the stories of him putting his fingers through the holes where stakes once held Christ to the cross. And we skip right over that as a powerful image in a touching moment, but not the point of the story.
It is ENTIRELY the point of the story. Look again.
Thomas puts his finger through Christ’s hands. He holds nail-pierced hands in his. Why not nail-scarred? You’d think that after three days in a tomb and however many of the forty days He had already been walking around scaring people out of their wits as if they’d just seen a ghost, some of that flesh would have healed back over.
I stepped on a nail once. It poked a hole through my foot, and I had to wear my mom’s house slipper to school for several weeks. Still, every day when I changed the bandages, there was evidence of the healing. Scar tissue was forming. If Christ brought Himself back from the dead, triumphed over the finality of lifelessness, then we might reasonably assume that His flesh would also begin to heal itself.
Obviously, that’s not the case. That is what makes this story beautiful.
In Greek, as in a few other languages, there is something known as the perfect tense. It’s almost lost to us today, except through our historical documents, as we confine ourselves in past, present, and future, each with their own participles. The future tense is different; it is special. It is used when something happens perhaps in one moment but with continuing consequences or a continuing presence throughout the time to come. The unforeseeable eternity that stretches before it.
The perfect tense is the language of God, and that is evidenced by Christ’s hands in His encounter with Thomas. These Holy hands were nail-pierced in the perfect tense – pierced at one moment in time for the continuing redemption of the world. The Romans got their hands on Him one time…just one time…but His hands keep healing, restoring, redeeming, and reconciling.
The story of Thomas? Good story; see myself in it more often than maybe I’d like to admit. But the nail-pierced hands at the center of that story? Incredible.