Wednesday April 15, 2020
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “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.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Why Thomas alone was absent among the remaining eleven disciples on Easter we can only speculate, although for our sakes we should be glad that he was not in the room when Jesus first appeared. Afterwards, Thomas listened in disbelief as the others excitedly explained their experience with Jesus. Without question Thomas desperately wanted their words to be true, but his despondent heart could not allow him to accept the testimony of his closest friends. Like a petulant child, Thomas recoiled at their words, “No matter what you say or how strongly you say it, unless I see Him with my own eyes, and touch Him with my own hands, I will never believe!”
We may recall that Thomas made a notable appearance earlier in John’s gospel when Jesus informed the disciples that they must go to Bethany near Jerusalem to visit their dead friend Lazarus. While the rest hesitated, remembering being forced to flee for their lives the last time they were in Jerusalem, it was Thomas who spoke up in the midst of the fearful group saying, “Let us go with him, so that we may die with him.” Thomas was both bold and bleak, ready to follow the Master even on a path leading to certain death. When Jesus actually died, just as Thomas predicted, his once bold faith dissolved into depressed denial.
Following the resurrection, Thomas’ soul remained troubled for over a week, resolutely refusing to believe the only words that promised peace, despite the persistent pleading of those who dearly loved him. But someone else loved him even more, and He appeared once again in a locked room full of people, this time His eyes fixed firmly on Thomas. Without hesitation or condemnation, Jesus took Thomas by the hand as He offered His own, “Put your finger here…place your hand in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” The scales of doubt dissipated and at last Thomas beheld Jesus with both his hands and his heart as Lord and God. Jesus next spoke not so much to Thomas as He did to us, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
This particular incident of Thomas doubting the reports of the resurrection is unfortunately all that most of us remember about him. But early church history paints a far different picture of Thomas than merely the doubter in the upper room. Healed of his spiritual blindness, Thomas was once again bold for Jesus. According to ancient documents, Thomas’ bold faith led him on a lengthy journey far from home, taking the gospel message of the resurrected Jesus across the continent of Asia, perhaps even as far as China, to many who had not seen Him. It is widely accepted that Thomas indeed followed Jesus even unto death, suffering martyrdom at the end of a spear in southern India in 72AD.
We all know people like Thomas, those who refuse to believe anything that they can not see and touch for themselves. Nothing is more painfully frustrating than watching someone we love and care for deeply remain stuck in arrogant and defiant ignorance, dismissing the message of Jesus despite our most earnest pleadings. Never forget, however, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians church, “such were some of you.” In fact, more than we could possibly realize, we all are people like Thomas. Just like Thomas, each of needs Jesus to reveal Himself to us in our unbelief. He is the one who offers the gift of salvation to us, and He is also the one who enables us to accept His gift by faith. Rather than harsh words of condemnation, Scripture informs us that it is the kindness of God which brings us to repentance. Without Jesus graciously moving towards us and in us, we remain hopelessly stuck in our doubts and fears, but truly blessed are those who have not seen with their eyes yet now believe with all their hearts.
Prayer for today:
Lord Jesus, You are the one who has moved in our lives, opening our spiritual eyes and hearts to trust in You. Forgive us for the impatience and frustration we often feel towards those who do not yet know You. Help us to remember that You are patient and kind in Your dealing with our sin. We ask that You would do the work that only You can do, bring conviction of sin and removal of doubt. Reveal to us our continual need for You each and every day. Transform our hearts and allow our lives to be a pleasing and fragrant aroma to You and those around us, that the world may know that You are Lord and God. In Your beautiful name we pray, Amen.