Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Empty and Full (06/04/09)
By Scott Cook
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He cast about in his mind. “How did I get here? ” He was, after all, one of the twelve. A most inquisitive one at times. After all, how do you get "there" if you don’t know where "there"is? Faith is alright—you have to have it—but what about common sense? What about reality? Matthew? Now, there was a wise one. His world consisted of numbers and equations. “Two and two equal four.” It would always be that way . . . like mortar. Solid. Set in stone. You could touch it, feel it, see the results. Two and two would never equal five. Admittedly, however, Thomas had seen some strange things. Sick people healed. Dead people raised. A leper cleansed. Demons cast into a herd of pigs. Jesus had a knack for turning situations into something beyond the bounds of reality.
Thomas thought of Bethany and how he had thought it was all over that day. He had even convinced the others. “Come on,” he had cried. “We should all die together!” Jesus, however, had fooled him. Instead of feeling death’s sting, they had rejoiced over its defeat. Lazarus coming out of the grave was a sight he would never forget. The journey into Jerusalem. The crowd screaming “hosanna, hosanna!” The palm branches in the path. Emotions were running high that day! The simple carpenter was the one people had awaited for hundreds of years! The Messiah had finally arrived!
He knew better than to get caught up in this frivolity. You can’t break down the walls of tradition with a straw of faith. You can’t take on the reality of oppression with the rainbow of dreams. As beautiful as the rainbow is, as big as it is, it’s not tangible. Not a sword, a shield, or the arm of the warrior. No. The legions of Rome wouldn’t be defeated by dreams, no matter how much one believed. If only Jesus had lived . . .
Why are you sitting here?” said Matthew. “Didn’t you hear John and Peter?” “Matthew, listen to me. It was Jesus who opened our eyes to possibilities. Think of everything we’ve heard and seen. He never turned anyone away. He would have given His life for any of them . . .or us! I heard Him on the cross asking the Father to forgive them even then! And what did they do? They killed Him! Our own leaders! Our TEACHERS! THEY KILLED HIM!” Thomas was yelling now.
Everyone was silently watching him. “Don’t you see?” Thomas cried. “It was a dream. All of you are caught up in it somehow, but it’s not real! We have to face reality! We can believe all we want, but the truth is Jesus is dead! We saw them drive the nails in His hands. We saw the soldier pierce His side with the spear. We saw the blood flowing and heard Jesus himself say ‘it is finished.’ He’s dead. Unless I was able to touch the holes in His hands, I wouldn’t, couldn’t, believe this madness.” They all turned away then, some crying, some angry, some also beginning to question what they had seen…
And then, from where he sat at the door, Thomas heard John’s sharp intake of breath. He looked in the direction of John’s stare. “Thomas, peace be with you.” “But Lord, how can this be?” He tried to stand but hadn’t the strength in his legs. “Lord, are you a ghost? I saw you on the cross. I saw you die!” Jesus said, “Give me your hand.” As Thomas reached out, his hand trembled violently. He wept openly as Jesus placed his finger into the palm of His hands, gently tracing the wounds there. He shivered as his hand was thrust into the wound in Jesus’ side. He fell on his face. “My Lord and my God.” Jesus chided him gently. “Now do you believe, Thomas? Have you seen enough? Blessed are those who will believe and not see.”
Thomas had been led from the emptiness of reality to the fullness of faith.
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