Grace For The Journey
He’s usually called “Doubting Thomas,” the disciple who doubted Christ’s rising from the grave. He is often depicted in contemporary preaching as a gloomy and morose sort of fellow, a bit of a pessimist, a “glass half-empty” type of person.
Someone has said . . .
“A pessimist is a person
Who feels bad when he feels good
For fear he’ll feel worse
When he feels better.”
I don’t think of Thomas as a pessimist. I think of him more as the guy who says out loud what others are thinking. Thomas is a skeptic, a thinker, a questioner. This much is certain: Thomas has a fantastic encounter with the risen Christ. The account of the episode is recorded in John 20:24-29. From these verses we can learn three significant truths:
1) Spiritual Isolation.
Verse 24 tells us Thomas is absent, “Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.” He is not with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them that Sunday evening. The absence of Thomas raises an intriguing question: “Where was Thomas? Why was he not there?”
His isolation reminds us of the importance
Of gathering together with others.
Isn’t it odd that everyone else
Was gathered together, but not Thomas?
Was it sorrow? Was he depressed? Things had not seemed to turn out the way he had envisioned, what with Jesus’ death upon the cross.
While the Bible does not tell us precisely why Thomas is absent, his isolation reminds us of the importance of gathering together with others. God created us with a hardwiring for relationships. The gathered church is the gathering together of brothers and sisters in a family. While churches were not able to gather together physically during COVID-19, they were able to find meaningful connection in other ways – live stream, messaging, and old-fashioned telephone calls. Apart from sustained relational engagement, we become vulnerable to isolation and discouragement.
2) Spiritual Hesitation.
Verse 25 tells us that Thomas is not ready to believe what he is being told about the risen Lord, “The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Thomas is better identified not as “Doubting Thomas,” but as, “Unbelieving Thomas.” He is simply an unbeliever. He had said, “I will not believe.”
Incidentally, Thomas’ hesitation to believe demonstrates that folks of his day were not merely gullible people, easily tricked into believing fanciful notions of the supernatural. Just as people today, the disciples were serious, sober, and thoughtful people.
Thomas was a classic unbeliever. He lays out the conditions that must be met before he commits: he must see for himself and put his finger upon the very wounds of Christ. His declaration is strong; in the original the grammar is a double negative, something like, “No, I will not believe!” The Bible tells us in verse 26 that a week goes by, “And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’”
Did you notice that Jesus spoke to Thomas the same words that Thomas had spoken to the disciples? Thomas had said, “Unless I see His hand and put my finger there and reach into HIs side,” and here Jesus says, “Reach your finger here, and look at my hands; reach your hand here, and put it into my side.”
Jesus had heard exactly what Thomas
Had said the previous week.
Jesus is all-knowing (omniscient)
And He is all-present (omnipresent);
God in Christ.
Jesus addresses Thomas’ spiritual hesitation: “Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
3) Spiritual Transformation.
Verse 28 says, “And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
We may have expected Thomas to approach Jesus and make careful examination of His body as Jesus invited him to do, but he does not. He simply says, “My Lord and my God!”
This is one of the greatest and grandest
Confessions of faith in the Gospels.
Thomas does not say,
“THE Lord and God,”
“MY Lord and MY God!”
He has changed.
This is transformation.
And note that Jesus accepts these Divine titles. He does not reprimand Thomas and tell him, “Don’t call Me Lord and God!” Jesus accepts the titles . . . Why? . . . Because He is Lord and God.
Verse 29 tells us, “Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Peter echoes this thinking. In 1 Peter 1:8, Peter refers to Jesus Christ as the One, “Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,”
The skeptic who would not see, now sees. These verses drive home some powerful points of application:
1) Confessing Christ Is Our Greatest Need.
John’s entire purpose in writing his gospel is that all readers come to confess Jesus as their Lord and God in the same way that Thomas did. In the final two verses following this narrative, John writes, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (verses 30-31).
- Far more important than whom you will date or marry is whether you have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Far more important than your career or worldly success is whether you been saved Jesus Christ.
- Far more important than anything else you will do in this lifetime is whether you confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior over your life.
Can you say with Thomas, “My Lord and my God?”
If we really believe – along with John – that confessing Christ is our greatest need and the greatest need of others, then we will talk to others about Him every chance we get.
2) We Are Blessed by Believing, Not Seeing.
We may think that being with Jesus as one of the 12 disciples would have been such a blessing! And it would have. I mean seeing the resurrected Christ 2,000 years ago must have been something.
Notice the further response that Jesus makes in verse 29, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those (and the idea is, ‘More Blessed are those’) who have not seen and yet have believed.” Now that is an amazing statement . . .
Believing in Jesus
Is far greater than
Actually seeing Jesus.
We see with spiritual eyes. Jesus says, “You’re actually more blessed when you believe with your spiritual eyes than when you demand certain proofs that you may see with your physical eyes.”
If you are demanding that Jesus perform some kind of special miracle for you before you surrender your life to Him, you are missing it. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
You will not be saved
By some special revelation,
Some physical miracle
That you demand to see.
In fact, Jesus warns in Matthew 24;24, “There will be false Christs and false prophets who with signs and wonders will deceive you.”
You already have the testimony of others in the Bible. You must believe the record of the testimony of others in the Bible or you will not be saved (Luke 16:27-31).
3) His Sacrifice Make Us Love Him More.
Unlike any other Gospel writer, the Apostle John writes about the scars of Christ. He draws attention to the scars upon Jesus’ wrists where the nails were driven through, and the scar on His side where a Roman soldier stabbed Him to verify He had died. Though Jesus appears before the disciples in His resurrected and glorified body, He still has the scars.
Tony Evans once told about a couple caught outside in a horrendous hailstorm. It was one of those hailstorms where the hail was literally the size of baseballs. Some of you have been in something like that. The couple was caught in the hailstorm and there was nowhere to take shelter. So the husband, being the protector and provider, instinctively began to protect his wife. He covered her with his own body, keeping the storm from falling upon her. The hailstones were huge and the man just lay over his wife while the stones beat upon him. After a few minutes of this, his ears started to bleed and there were cuts on his head. The man tried in vain to lead his wife to shelter, but the pounding of the storm kept him from moving and eventually all he could do was just collapse upon her, shielding her from the danger of the hailstones.
When the storm was over the man had scars from those hailstones. The cuts and abrasions were lasting reminders of the day his wife was saved. When his wife was asked how she felt about the experience she said, “Every time I look at those scars, on his head, on his neck, and on his ear, I love him more” … “I love him more because he sacrificed himself for me.”
Jesus Christ willingly placed Himself between God’s wrath and us. He took upon Himself the punishment, that you and I deserved for our sin. In His love for us, He placed Himself over us, protecting us, shielding us from all that wrath that He took upon Himself. And on His body, Jesus bears the scars; evidence of His love for us, the eternal reminders of what He did for you and me.
Every time we think
About those scars –
We should love Him more.
What About You?
- Can you say with Thomas, “My Lord and my God?”
- With whom do you need to share Jesus this week?
- If you are a believer, remember you continue to walk by faith. We don’t always know why things happen, but we can hear Jesus say, “Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Always remember . . .
When you cannot
Trace God’s hand,
You can trust God’s heart.
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”