(I wrote this little devotion the spring of 2020 – at the beginning of Covid (the quarantine). My church did a few zoom church meetings and then we went to parking lot church, kinda like a spiritual drive-in-movie theater! We tuned into the songs and the preaching through a radio channel. It’s funny – I don’t remember how we took the offering! Even though we’re four years out from the quarantine, I still think there is much to say about Thomas and his need for a physical encounter with Jesus.)

I admit that I’ve always thought there was something wrong with Thomas (John 20:24ff). He seemed less mature than the other disciples and he somehow came to be known as “doubting Thomas.” Not a nickname you would want to have for the rest of time. He wasn’t there when Jesus first appeared to the disciples, and he flat out did not believe them. He was bold to say, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and place my finger into the mark of the nails and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Think about that for a minute. Can you believe anyone would say that about the Crucified Christ? That is definitely more than just bold – it’s downright impudent!

But I’m coming to a different perspective on Thomas. And I would say the “quarantine” has been partly responsible for it. I know we have our zoom calls or meetings, and we even have parking lot church. But one thing we lack – is touch – real life contact. I’m content to stay home, order my groceries online (or send my home delivery husband). I’m ok with Zoom – but one thing I miss – is the sweet touch of a friend or sitting next to my grandchildren at the table. I’m unsettled by “social distancing”.

Can you imagine the longing in Thomas that was made the greater because he held in his memory the rough yet tender hands of Jesus? He sat by him at table, he walked beside him – bumping up against him. He felt the hands of Jesus, kneeling before him, washing his feet. Thomas remembered Jesus reaching out to hug him; He was with Jesus when the woman reached out and touched only the hem of Christ’s cloak and Jesus exclaimed over the fact that he had felt power go out from him. – Jesus must have felt that in his body. And in Luke’s account of Jesus appearing to the disciples post-Resurrection he says to them – “Touch me and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:39)

Jesus didn’t have to appear to the disciples post Resurrection. He could have easily simply walked away from the tomb and gone to be with the Father. But I think one of the reasons he came and ate fish and bread with his friends is he knew that as bodies with souls we need the physicality of touch. Even though he gently rebuked Thomas for doubting he let Thomas touch his side and hands. In fact, he initiated the contact. No shame, no angry rebuke. He admonished him for the way he believed but from where I sit, it seems as if he knew that some people need that physicality, and others do not. And so, after 40 days with his dear friends, Christ ascended and now sits next to the Father with a body – forever incarnate, eternally honoring and blessing the place of the body in the world to come.

So as Christians with bodies – let us practice Resurrection by blessing others with a holy touch, an incarnate hug, a loving glance. When this quarantine is over – let’s greet each other with a holy kiss. We can do this not out of our own hunger, but by the fact that the Resurrection of Christ has forever hallowed the body. Let’s practice Resurrection by asking the Spirit to use our bodies to bless and love others.