We get to hear a unique story from John. He is the only one who shares Thomas’ experience regarding Jesus’ resurrection with us. This is the story that inspired the phrase “doubting Thomas.”
I can sympathize with Thomas, to a degree, in John’s account. Jesus’ resurrection was a miracle above all miracles. Nothing like it had ever been done or even heard of before. That is probably the same reason the other disciples had a hard time believing the women and the two who met Him on the way to Emmaus.
But Thomas had more than a dozen witnesses who had seen Jesus alive. Did they ALL try and convince him or was he only approached by a few? What was it that made Thomas discount his peers so out of hand? Thomas would have fit in perfectly with the “flat Earth society” and the “moon landing was a hoax” group. These individuals required personal proof to change their beliefs.
Thomas was still wrapped in grief while his companions were rejoicing. I’m sure they wouldn’t keep their joy to themselves. How could Thomas not see that change in them? What did he attribute it to? Did he resent their joy? Did he think them disloyal to Jesus? Or was he maybe a little less affected by Jesus’ death than some of the other disciples? I can’t remember any other stories about Thomas, besides his being named among the apostles and this event. Was Thomas more peripheral? Is that why he was missing the first time Jesus appeared to His disciples?
Jesus didn’t consider him less important, even if he did count himself as less a part of the group. Jesus knew Thomas’ heart. He also knew Thomas’ comments and He made a special visit to His disciples with Thomas in mind.
The first words Jesus utters in this visit are the same words He said the first time He visited His disciples. “Peace be with you” (verse 26). It is also the same kind of setting. They were behind locked doors when He appeared among them. Were they still in hiding from the religious leaders? Were they still in fear for their lives? Or was it the custom to lock your doors in the evenings?
The next words out of Jesus’ mouth are directed straight at Thomas and his earlier comments. Jesus wasn’t present physically when Thomas made his statements but His words echoed them exactly. Talk about putting doubts to shame. “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (verse 27).
Thomas gave the only answer possible in the face of such evidence; “My Lord and my God!” (verse 28). Yup, no more doubt in him now. He is now on board fully with the rest of Jesus’ disciples. He KNOWS Jesus is alive again.
Jesus could have berated Thomas for failing to listen to his companions. He could also have refused to meet Thomas’ “conditions” for belief. But He didn’t. He met Thomas right where he was. Jesus did make one final remark about Thomas’ refusal to believe without hard evidence. “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed” (verse 29).
Those who have not seen covers us today as well as those that first made up the church. Those that Peter would speak to on Pentecost. Just because we don’t have Jesus physically standing before us, instructing us to touch His scars, doesn’t mean we don’t have proof of His resurrection. These firsthand accounts that we have been studying are just the tip of the iceberg on that front!
Father God, thank You that we can take You at Your word. Every promise You make You bring about. Every tree and flower shout of Your power and care. With that kind of track record, how could I ever doubt Your words concerning Jesus? Because You have been faithful in these areas I can trust Your faithfulness in all others.
Thank You Jesus for giving us first hand witnesses. This witness list isn’t confined to Jesus’ twelve disciples. It included the whole group of Your followers, including the women. You also speak to hearts even today, mine being one of them on occasions. Thank You for putting my doubts to rest over the years. I have found myself in Thomas’ shoes more than once. But You have proved Yourself faithful again and again in my life. Because You live I can face anything that lies ahead. We will face it together.