“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.’” John 20:26
Thomas is often called “Doubting Thomas” because of the idea that he had doubts that Jesus had really risen from the tomb and conquered death. But perhaps this label is a misnomer. Out of all twelve of Jesus’ disciples, it could be argued that Thomas was actually one of the most faithful to the Lord. While others struggled to believe His miracles or give up everything to follow Him, Thomas remained steadfastly loyal to Jesus. In fact, he was the only one who was willing to follow Jesus to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead even when they were threatened with death by the Jews if they did (John 11:16).
Being so dedicated can be harder to do than one might think. Even for a loyal follower.
Thomas truly believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah he had learned about during his youth. The Old Testament had spoken of a coming Messiah that would save Israel, but it did not say much about the Messiah coming back to life after His death. At least none that was paid attention to. And so after Jesus’ tomb was found empty Thomas wanted to believe that the Lord had risen just as He said He would even though this didn’t quite line up with everything he’d been taught. He had his doubts indeed.
As we read in John 20:26, Jesus appeared to His disciples eight days after His resurrection. Since no one had ever (or since) been resurrected it would be natural for the disciples to believe that they had seen a ghost. Luke 24:36 describes how terrified the disciples were. Despite this, Thomas desperately wanted to believe that the one who was standing in front of him was the risen Christ, but he also needed to be sure he wasn’t imagining things during his time of grieving. Indeed, all the disciples were thinking and feeling the same thing.
It wasn’t until Jesus invited Thomas to touch His hands (the ones with the holes left from huge nails that were cruelly pounded through them) and His side (the one with the hole left from being pierced to confirm His death on the cross) that Thomas knew that his doubts were gone and he was touching his Lord once again. It was then he could declare, “My Lord and my God!” His faith confirmed for everyone that it really was Jesus and that He really is the risen Christ. Jesus answers him saying,
“Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
This is the epitome of the Christian faith.
Thomas is an example for all of us. Though we may feel dedicated and loyal to God we sometimes doubt His truth and abilities. We forget that He is without limits and He always keeps His promises. The Lord knows this very well so He meets us in our weakness with grace and compassion, which is why He invited Thomas to touch his side. As it says in 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful. He cannot deny Himself.”
God understands that we have doubts sometimes. It is by reaching out to Jesus during those times that we can renew our faith and be encouraged so we can declare once again that He is the Son of God and Savior of the world who reigns in holiness and majesty forever.
What doubts do you have? Is it hard to believe that Jesus meets us in our weaknesses? Is it hard to believe that He will meet yours? I have days where God seems far away too. I invite you to contact me so we can pray together and let God into the middle of our concerns. When we bring everything to God He promises to hear us and respond. “…He remains faithful.”