by Brittney Chan
The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.
A certain member of the opposite gender has been on my mind quite a bit lately…
Uh huh, I saw your eyes and ears perk up. I’ve got your attention, don’t I? Although what I have to say might not be as juicy as you’d like, I still believe it’s pretty thought-provoking.
I’m talking about the Apostle Thomas. Ever since my church’s Easter play, which gave a detailed overview of the events leading up to Christ’s resurrection, my attention has been stuck on Thomas. You and I both know that every time he’s mentioned, the fact that he doubted Jesus had risen is almost always talked about. It’s the thing that marks his entire life; his “hashtag,” if you will. #DoubtingThomas #ThomasTheDoubter #HeHadToSeeToBelieve #WhatADoubter
It’s crazy how you can live an entire life…even become a missionary and martyr for the Gospel…and still only be remembered by some people for your one BIG mistake. Is there anything like that in your life? If you could scroll through the Instagram profile of Time, what would the caption read under your picture? Mine would probably say, #BrittneyTheOverthinker.
While my study was geared towards Thomas, I found out a couple things. His name is scattered throughout the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and he was a follower of Christ; but he still isn’t as well known as some of the others, like James or Peter. John’s written epistle gives the reader insightful knowledge of the events that involved Apostle Thomas. He shows up in John 11, 14 and 20.
The first account is of Lazarus’ death. Jesus had just received word that His close friend was dying. He was staying in Judea, a place where Jesus was no longer welcomed. The Jews would have been more than happy to jump at any opportunity they had to capture Him. Knowing that, it’s easier to understand why the disciples questioned His decision to go back (John 11:8). Jesus defended his reasoning and this is when Thomas spoke up in a rather heroic way, I think. He said, “Guys, let’s go with Him; even if it means we die.” Some commentators interpret this in a negative way and say that Thomas was being sarcastic. While that may be true, I think it shows how devoted he really was. Even if it all ended in death, accompanying Jesus was still the best option they had. Thomas’ courage influenced the remaining eleven to follow suit.
Fast forward a couple of chapters to the Last Supper. Judas, the Betrayer, had already left the scene and Jesus directed His attention to Peter. After He foretold of Peter’s denial, Jesus told about going to prepare a place for them and then said this: “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” Again, Thomas speaks up…”Um…Lord? No, we don’t know where You’re going. So there’s no way we could know how to get there!” But all along, Jesus had been instructing His disciples because He knew that He’d be out of the picture soon. The disconnect between the teacher and the students is very obvious in this passage. Thomas’ ignorance was the breeding ground for his unbelief.
Wow. Hear me say that one more time. Thomas’ ignorance was the breeding ground for his unbelief. In other words, Thomas’ heart could not love that which his mind did not understand. Y’all, this is why it is SO important to study God’s Word for yourself. Hide it in your heart! You can’t conquer the challenge of being a godly woman of character if you fail to develop the habit of communicating with God.
The more experience you have with the Master is the more unshakable you’ll become in what you believe to be true about Him.
And finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: John 20. As the scene unfolds, we read that the Risen Savior presented Himself first to Mary and then to His disciples. But where was Thomas? Verse 24 says he was nowhere to be found. Maybe, by this time, his doubt had gotten the best of him. Maybe the fear of being counted as a follower of Christ and the persecution that was sure to follow was enough to make him flee. Maybe this Man called Jesus wasn’t who He said He was and the last few years of Thomas’ life were all in vain. The first mistake Thomas made was that he isolated himself. He was alone. Notice that Jesus came to the men who were gathered together.
Doesn’t the Bible tell us not to forsake coming together with like-minded believers? (Hebrews 10:25) Stay in church! Thomas was out of the presence of God’s people and this is where his doubt grew exponentially. Watch your life cautiously. Be mindful of how many times you play hooky from the mid-week service or how often you skip the Sunday School hour to catch a few more Zzz’s. The enemy of your soul is seeking to get you by yourself and will then make you question everything you’ve ever believed about God. Isn’t that exactly what he did to Eve?
When the disciples came knocking on his door with the news of having seen the Master, Thomas exploded. His faith seemed like a roller coaster out of control. In a fit of unbelief, Thomas declared what he thought would be the impossible: “I’ll never believe you unless I can touch His undeniable wounds for myself!” It seemed crazy to even think that God could meet His needs. But who better knows our weaknesses and sorrows than the One who created us? Christ loved Thomas so much that He chose to do exactly what it took to fulfill his expectation.
Our God is good. Deuteronomy 7:9 puts it like this: “…He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him…” That means that He is faithful through the Ages. The thing I love about Thomas is that there’s no room to question it: he messed up. He doubted…but later in Acts 1:13-14, he dwelled in the Upper Room as they all waited for the Power from on high.
The good news is that even if your doubts about God have driven you far from Him, He is not far from you. We make a mistake when we choose to see God through the actions of other people. He cares deeply about His personal relationship with you.
So rather than tuning in to the influences that dare to diminish your faith, turn to the Author and Finisher of it!
I come before You today on behalf of every believer faced with yet another reason to doubt Your goodness. I pray that You would make Yourself known to them; let the comfort of Your Spirit surround their lives and lift their faith. God, empower Your people to live zealously for You. Block the voices of the enemy that speak of unbelief and discouragement. You are good and Your faithfulness endures for all time. Help us to believe.
In Jesus’ name,