Have you ever been at a point where you felt that you couldn’t go on unless God stepped directly into your life and made His presence known in no uncertain terms? Maybe you’re there now. The disciple Thomas was there when he declared:
“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 it.” (John 20:25b NIV)
Thomas is unfairly remembered as “Doubting Thomas” because he wouldn’t accept second-hand information about the risen Christ. Thomas hadn’t been present when Jesus revealed Himself to the other disciples after His crucifixion. He wanted more than their reports. Remember that he, too, had recently endured the utter devastation of everything that mattered. His Master was gone, and the Jesus Way was at a screeching halt, fallen apart, blown to smithereens. No wonder Thomas insisted that Jesus step into his life and reveal His identity.
I ask: Was that a sign of weak faith? Is it ever a virtue to ignore the heart cry and settle for second-hand knowledge of the risen Christ?
In our former years, we may have been content with what others taught about Christ. We comfortably rested our faith in their faith. But we didn’t know what to trust Christ for because we didn’t know Him for who He truly is. Our faith was yet to be forged through our own encounter with the revelation of the risen Christ.
Jesus didn’t chastise Thomas for wishing to see evidence. Instead, Jesus paid Thomas a visit and personally revealed His nail-printed hands and pierced side. Jesus added, “Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” (John 20:27b NET) I put it this way: “Thomas, stop suspending belief and believe for yourself. Furthermore, Thomas, thus far you’ve trusted Me as your earthly Master. Now you must trust in Me as I truly am: God!”
That day, Thomas saw more than nail prints. Thomas saw Jesus as God! That’s not seen through natural eyesight, but through spiritual sight. Thomas responded with a profound declaration of belief: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28b NIV) Thus, this disciple more truthfully should be remembered as “Believing Thomas”!
You and I cannot step back in time and see those nail prints. In any event, our faith doesn’t rest on natural senses, nor does it depend on revelations of His deity to others. That’s shallow faith which washes out during trials and temptations. It can’t sustain us through challenges. However, challenges can make us cry out for revelations of Christ as Lord. That’s when we proclaim our own declaration of faith, and utter, “My Lord and My God!”
Jesus gave Thomas a delightful promise for all who come to such full-fledged belief: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29b NIV) May that be said of each of us! May each of us continue to seek His presence — perhaps praying like this:
Prayer: Lord, I submit myself to You to mature my faith through experiences that forge an ever-deepening faith in You — for who You truly are. Amen.
Paisley, Ontario, Canada