Poking the Crucifixion Holes
As we discussed in Empty Conversation #ec1dot05, it takes something more than doubt (or the desire for proof) to stop following Jesus. Though the disciple Thomas had a dubious nickname, one that any believer would eschew, he stayed around when times got tough. When the crowds fled when Jesus started demanding more, Thomas – the doubting one – hung on toward the end. He lasted past the crucifixion and, even though he doubted reports of the resurrection, he still stuck around with the other Apostles. He never closed the door on the hopeful news being true.
He just wanted some proof.
I Need to Touch
Thomas’ demand for belief was touch. Touch seems to be the most reliable of all the senses. I have never touched something that was not there but I have seen, heard, smelled, and tasted a reality that wasn’t quite true – with no drugs necessary. Dickens’ famous Christmas Carol hinges on the Scrooge’s belief that his mind plays tricks on him. Thomas wanted to leave nothing to chance.
He wanted to touch.
But it was the way he wanted to touch that is peculiar. Isn’t it? His desire was not to tap, pinch, swipe, flick, or scroll. He wanted Jesus to be more real than his smartphone screen.
He wanted to intersect the Savior.
This was a very specific type of intimate – not erotic – encounter. Thomas wanted to feel the effects of the sacrifice. He did not want to touch Jesus’ face or pat him on the back. He wanted to feel inside the wounds – the ones that were earned in substitution for his own sin. It’s a gruesome and twisted thought, but Thomas experienced a level of intimacy with Jesus that no one will ever get to share.
Listen to Another Empty Conversation
How Can We Feel the Sacrifice?
If the doubting disciple had to physical feel the Sacrificial Jesus in order to believe, where does that leave us? We will never experience what Thomas experienced in touching Jesus, but we can and do experience the desire for something more real. When it comes to believing in Jesus we have a distinct disadvantage. This was not lost on Jesus.
Many believe despite never seeing. They rely on an experience that is tough to describe because it is so personal. Words always fail when trying to explain the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
But what about those that demand proof?
You can present the facts concerning the legitimacy of the Scriptures. You can point to the initiatives that Christians have started in the name of Jesus that have made this world a better place. You can even recall personal stories where faith secured a soul in the midst of a tumultuous storm.
But all of these can be refuted with opposing facts, instances where non-religious people have made a difference for good, and stories when faith failed in pleasant circumstances. Big stories are easy to touch but hard to intersect.
I am not sure you can ever “prove” something that is so personal and intimate. Faith, in order to be real to an individual, must intersect with a deep portion of their life – a point where it is no longer debatable that Jesus is real.
A Sacrifice to Intersect
My hunch is that people want the same thing Thomas wanted, but Jesus is not around today. The Messiah no longer has a robe of flesh and a touch of skin. The crucifixion holes can’t be touch or entered. But that does not mean there is no way to intersect the sacrifice.
In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul calls all Christians to be living sacrifices. The oft used phrase that Christian’s are the hands and feet of Jesus applies here. If people want to be able to engage the sacrifice they are going to have to do so through the hands and feet of Jesus’ followers.
No wonder so many people refuse to believe. We suck at sacrifice – especially in the American Church where comfort and pleasure reign supreme. Today’s followers of Jesus are more worried about the condition of their meeting place than conditioning the hearts of people they meet.
We are crappy followers of Jesus. Despite this Jesus still shows up and draws people to him through our work. It certainly would be an easier task if we were not in the way, but Jesus chooses to work through us despite our deficiencies. I don’t like the pain of sacrifice and I certainly dislike the thought of people poking in to my most tender wounds. But if that is what it takes to be a real sacrifice that points others to Jesus…so be it.
How to Be a Sacrifice:
So what are some ways to be the wounded hands and feet of Jesus? I can think of some great ways to be a sacrifice in today’s world:
- Welcome, love, heal, and care for incoming Syrian refugees.
- Hang out with homosexuals in their comfort zones without expecting to show up to church on Sunday
- Travel to an Islamic country and serve like Jesus would
There are plenty of other ways to be a sacrifice. You must remember this: sacrifice is inherently painful. If there is nothing painful to the process it probably is not much of a sacrifice. It certainly won’t be something a touch seeker would desire to intersect.