From Faith to Sight
Wednesday, November 6, 2019
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” John 20:24-25a
We need to rewrite our understanding of Thomas because it has negatively affected one of the most encouraging passages in John’s gospel.
First of all, Jesus has just risen from the dead—a feat that no other man in history has accomplished. Rumors are spreading about possible sightings, but a sense of cautiousness is accompanying the sense of excitement. Thomas’ skepticism is reasonable.
Secondly, back in John 11, after the death of Lazarus, the other disciples beg Jesus not to return to Judea for fear that He will be stoned. Thomas, however, reacts differently. He resolutely responds in John 11:16, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”
What courage and conviction! Thomas may see the glass as half-empty, but he drinks wholeheartedly anyway. He isn’t a wishy-washy disciple. He’s all in.
Consider that as you come to this portion of John 20. As far as Thomas knows, Jesus is dead and lying behind a stone wall secured by Roman guards. No amount of wishful thinking or hysteria is going to change that.
When the disciples inform Thomas that they have seen the risen Lord, he famously responds in verse 25:
Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.
I don’t think this is the cynical cry of a man who has lost faith. In fact, I don’t think anyone in that room desired to see Jesus more than Thomas. What happens next is proof of that:
After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28).
What a response! Thomas doesn’t say, “Well, I guess you guys were right.” No. He cries out with sheer ecstasy, “My Lord and My God!” He’s the first to make that proclamation in all the gospels.
Jesus hadn’t come into the room to scold Thomas. He had come to reveal Himself in a unique and personal way, knowing exactly what Thomas needed. Jesus goes on to tell him in verse 29: “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
Write your own name in verse 29, because Jesus is talking about you! This verse so wonderfully reveals to us that our Lord is gracious with our questions and doubts as well. He was sympathetic to Thomas, and He is even more sympathetic to you and me because we have never seen Him face to face.
As Paul so beautifully wrote:
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).
There is coming a day when we, like Thomas, will be able to touch our Lord’s hands and side and put our faith to rest at last.
And that day is nearer than ever before!