Hello. Just call me Thomas. Doubting Thomas. Why? Because I want to see what Jesus is doing, I want to touch the works of His hands, and I want to know that He is doing what He said He will do.
I grew up attending Sunday School, as well as a Christian school, and I am SO thankful for that foundation! Many teachers passed along their knowledge of well-known stories of Jesus and His disciples. But let me tell you, I think “Doubting” Thomas has gotten a bad rap.
“Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 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.’ 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.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ ” ~ John 20:19-29
Notice that when Jesus first appeared to the group, Thomas was absent. The other ten (Judas had taken his own life by then) were able to see, touch, and know that Jesus was, in fact, risen from the dead and alive! Poor Thomas had missed out on this amazing visit from their Lord and Master. So, instead of choosing to believe the words of his companions, he insisted that he needed to see, touch, and know for himself that Jesus was alive.
Jesus is so gracious, understanding, and kind to us. He knew that Thomas needed to see, touch, and know for himself, so He came for another visit and offered Himself up to be seen, touched, and known. And Thomas declared, “My Lord and my God!”
” ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ ” Although this is addressed to Thomas, all of the disciples had seen Jesus and then believed (with the exception of John, who went into the empty tomb with Peter and “saw and believed” ~ John 20:8). Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed refers to the many who never had the opportunity to see Jesus in the flesh, after He was resurrected, and yet believed. And that includes you and me! 🙂
So why do I identify with Thomas? Our family has been called to follow God in a new direction, and waiting for His perfect timing and plan has been a slow, exciting, and sometimes painful process. While my husband has had the blessing of catching little personal glimpses and receiving affirmations that “This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21), I have not had the benefit of “seeing” or “touching” for myself. I am simply having to trust God, knowing His promises and faithfulness. And that is good enough.
Here is another little glimpse of Thomas, earlier in the book of John. Jesus had received news of His friend Lazarus’ illness and decided to head to Judea, though the Jews there had previously threatened His life.
“The disciples said to Him, ‘Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?’…Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him.’ ” ~ John 11:8, 16
See, maybe it is okay to be a little like Thomas. He may have expected the worst – death- but he was willing to accept that fate, or whatever else awaited him, while following Jesus.
Sometimes we aren’t given the opportunity to see or touch, but because of God’s Word and His past track record of unfailing love and mercy and faithfulness, we can know and believe without seeing or touching. It is well with my soul.