Doubt and belief

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:31 (NIV)

Read : John 20:19-31

Consider: Thomas had been with Jesus throughout his three-year ministry.  He knew that Jesus performed miracles that revealed his power and authority over nature (e.g. stilling the waves – Mark 4:35-41), over sickness (e.g. the centurion’s servant – Matthew 8:5-13) and death (e.g. raising of Lazarus – John 11:38-44).  Each of Jesus’ miracles testified to who he was and the power that was available to him.

After the crucifixion Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them.  We read: The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord (John 20:20b).  This joy led them to enthusiastically tell Thomas: We have seen the Lord! (20:25a).  Thomas, however, refused to believe their testimony and instead he said: Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand in his side, I will not believe (20:25b).

Most of us will have heard that Thomas’ doubt led to him becoming known as ‘Doubting Thomas’.  However, if we look back at the earlier account of Jesus meeting with the other disciples we read: ‘Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side’ (20:19b-20a).  Clearly Thomas wanted to see for himself the same things the other disciples had seen when Jesus appeared to them.  Of course, he could have accepted the eye-witness testimony of the other disciples, but he wished to have the same level of proof that the others had.

When Jesus next appeared to the disciples (including Thomas), Jesus got straight to the point when 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’ (20:27).  At this point Thomas exclaimed: ‘My Lord and my God!’ (20:28).  Jesus’ response to Thomas is insightful when he says: ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’ (20:29).  Every generation after the disciples has had to depend upon what they are told and can read for themselves in the gospel accounts in the Bible.  Thankfully we have faithful eye-witness accounts that have been recorded by those who had been with Jesus, or those who were able to speak to the eye-witnesses and to present a faithful record of events.

This still leaves us today in a situation where each of us has to decide if we are prepared to believe what the Bible presents to us as accurate testimony.  The Apostle John at the end of his gospel account says:  Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31).  May we read the gospel accounts with an open heart and mind, so that when Jesus asks us ‘Who do you say I am?’, we can answer as Peter did: ‘You are the Messiah’ (Mark 8:29).

Pray: Father, we pray for those whose minds are full of doubts and questions about who Jesus is.  May what is revealed in the gospel accounts bring them to the point where they can accept forgiveness and acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Master.  Amen

Every blessing

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