We may view Christ’s disciple, Thomas, as “the doubter”. Yet what Jesus said of him is wonderful!

The term “Doubting Thomas” arose in later church history, likely because this particular follower of Christ was the last of the disciples to believe Jesus had truly risen from the dead. Perhaps he needed more time to process the reality of what he witnessed and knew of Christ’s death compared with what he’d since been told. Whatever the case, Thomas equated knowing the Lord’s resurrection was factual with a requirement to himself see Jesus and touch the areas of His crucifixion wounds. (John 20:19-25)

However, a closer look at the interactions of Jesus and “Doubting Thomas” is—pardon the pun—unbelievably encouraging and relevant for us today.

No matter how you came to faith in Jesus Christ.

Or if you haven’t yet placed your faith in Him.

Whether you’ve been stigmatized by labels in your life.

Or have been quick in assigning disparaging labels to others.

The disciple Thomas and the biblical record of his spiritual journey, I’m learning, is a tremendous gift from God—both to believers and non-believers. 

* * *

When Thomas found himself face to face with the risen Christ, we see an immediate change in this aggrieved, doubting individual.

“After eight days His [Jesus’] 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.’” (John 20:26-27)

Christ graciously invited Thomas to do what he stated would be necessary for his belief in Jesus’ resurrection—while making it clear that belief is a choice.

 Thomas’ doubts, however, had vanished.

He no longer required pressing his finger into the Lord’s nail-scarred hands. Reaching in and touching Christ’s side wasn’t necessary. Rather, “Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My LORD and my God!’” (John 20:28)

* * *

Such is the exclamation of a believer—not a doubter. And, before all present, Jesus acknowledged Thomas as a believer:

“Because you have seen Me, have you believed?”

Jesus often asks questions for our instruction and correction, and this was a teachable moment. But notice how beautifully, within the framework of His question, Jesus gave Thomas—the last, despairing unbeliever—a new identity.

Thomas had joined those who didn’t just believe Jesus was the Son of God, but believed in Him as the resurrected Christ.

 * * *

The truth of the matter is none of the apostles believed Jesus had risen from the dead when they first heard news of it. The women who’d gone to the tomb shared how they found the stone rolled away, the tomb empty, and been told by angels Jesus had risen from the dead. Yet those hearing their report viewed it as nonsense (Luke 24:11).

We could say there was a “Doubting Peter”, “Doubting James”, “Doubting John”, “Doubting Andrew”, “Doubting Philip”, “Doubting Thomas”, and continue on down the list until all eleven of the remaining disciples are named. (Luke 24:11, Mark 16:12-13)

Peter and John did run to the empty tomb, however, finding it just the way the women had described. John then believed Christ rose from the dead and we’re told Peter went home marveling at what had happened. (John 20:4-8; Luke 24:12)

That evening, Christ’s disciples were together behind closed doors, fearing for their lives. Perhaps for our benefit, Thomas was not at this earlier gathering. Jesus appeared, standing in their midst and greeting them in peace. He showed them His hands and side, and ate food in their presence; assuring them He had indeed risen from the dead and was not a ghost. (John 20:19-20; 20-24; Luke 24:36-42)

Not surprisingly, these lovers of Christ were filled with joy and amazement!

But Thomas wasn’t there…

* * *

Maybe you “weren’t there” when kids were assembled for Vacation Bible School, church camp, or youth group activities. Perhaps exposure and acceptance to the truth of God’s Word is not in your past.  It could be you’ve never felt you possess enough evidence or proof to believe in and make a decision to follow Christ.

If so, God not only wonderfully gave you a Savior, but a Thomas.

Jesus continued His dialogue with Thomas: “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

Seeing can result in believing, but seeing is not a requirement for belief. And while it’s clear belief is a choice (John 20:27; Acts 16:31), salvation is ours to know only through God’s grace:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

What glorious news!

* * *

Through John 3:16 and what Scripture says of Thomas, we can see having a saving faith in Jesus Christ has nothing to do with any labels we or anyone else might assign to us. It has no affiliation with what we or others may have “missed out on” in life. And it isn’t dependent upon (or ruled out by) having certain personality traits. Clearly, the disciples of Jesus weren’t matching, cookie-cutter prototypes; there is something of ourselves to be found in one or more of the twelve we read of in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

These things are not only encouraging on their surfaces, but should serve to eliminate any falsehoods we may buy into that “Jesus isn’t for me.”

* * *

How inspiring that, prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, Thomas responded to the invitation to become one of His disciples (Mark 3:13-19). He left everything to follow Jesus (Luke 18:28). He believed Jesus was God’s promised Messiah (John 2:11). He sought to understand Christ’s teachings (Matthew 13:36). He was unwilling to see Jesus go to Jerusalem and face possible death alone (John 11:16). And he was witness to Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:14; 38-46).

Honestly, Thomas lived out a much more radical belief in Jesus than I often do. I’m beginning to suspect he grieved Jesus’ suffering and death to the deepest core of his being and, with equal depth and emotion, wanted nothing to do with what might be fantasies or untruths circulating about the Lord having risen from the dead.

I’m grateful Thomas wanted to immerse himself with facts. It was this tendency which likely compelled his query as to how we could know the way to where Jesus was going (John 14:5). His question became our conduit for the gift of John 14:6:

“Jesus said to him [Thomas], ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”

* * *

It is traditionally believed Thomas went on to take the gospel of Christ to India where he faithfully told those who were not able to see the risen Christ about the risen Christ.

He knew The Way!

* * *

… if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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