Now Thomas (also known as Didymus ), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ John 20:24-29 (NIV)
We tend to think of Thomas as ‘Doubting Thomas’ because of this incident recounted in John’s Gospel. Yet Thomas’ reaction in wanting to see Jesus for himself is probably quite normal.
Thomas wasn’t one of those who had witnessed the empty tomb; he had to rely on the testimony of the women and the disciples who had been there on the morning of the resurrection. When Jesus appeared to the disciples in a locked room (John 20:19-21), Thomas wasn’t there. Despite the obvious excitement of the other disciples at seeing Jesus, Thomas was probably feeling a bit let down that he hadn’t seen Jesus himself. It is easy to criticise him for not accepting the testimony of the other disciples, but we can emphasise with him. He had missed out twice and he wanted to see Jesus for himself.
Notice in the verses from John 20 quoted above that when Jesus appears to the disciples (this time Thomas is present), he speaks directly to Thomas. He says ‘Put your finger here …’, ‘Reach out your hand …’ – the very words Thomas had used to express his doubt. What must Thomas have thought? Here was Jesus alive and he could see and touch the wounds in his hands and side for himself. Not only that but Jesus spoke his own words back to him, despite the fact that Jesus hadn’t been present when he had said them a week earlier.
Notice also that Thomas wasn’t afraid to express his doubt, nor was Jesus afraid to confront him about it.
Having expressed his doubt and having it confronted by Jesus, Thomas was able to say, ‘My Lord and my God!’
Don’t be afraid to express your doubts and uncertainties to God. You will be surprised how he will help you through to a point where you can believe.
[Archives – click on the icon at the top of the page]