Thomas Sees and Believes!
The account of Thomas appears immediately before John’s mission statement in verses 30-31. The goal of John’s Gospel is always evangelistic. He wanted people to understand the truth about Jesus, to believe that he is the Son of God, and thereby to experience the life of which we have been reading in this Gospel. Faith itself is not an end But a means to an end.
But one of the Twelve, Thomas (called “Twin”), was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!”
John 20:24-25 (HCSB)
Are Christians gullible?
Some may be, but John wanted to tell us about one who was not. Thomas the Twin was the original “show me” man from Missouri long before that state existed. If Judas depicted betrayal and Peter denial, Thomas demonstrated scepticism.
The disciples kept on telling Thomas they had seen the Lord. Thomas, fed up with such nonsense, grew weary of holding on to a faith that had crumbled. He took the old motto “seeing is believing” to frightening dimensions. He removed himself from the disciple band, telling them he wanted to hear no more about this ridiculous notion of a resurrection. Thomas used strong language with his friends, indication the frustration to which the vents of the past week had driven him.
Thomas wants not only to see the scar made by the nails in the hands, but also to put his finger into the place where the nails had been…There is no mention in this Gospel, or in Matthew and Luke, of the piercing of the feet.
After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!”
Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”
John 20:26-27 (HCSB)
But John moved on to show us doubting alleviated. In spite of what he had said, Thomas at least joined the Sunday evening service a week later. Again, in spite of locked doors, Jesus appeared and greeted them exactly as he had a week earlier. But rather than showing his hands and side to the entire group, he turned to Thomas and invited empirical investigation.
Sincere Christianity has always welcomed sincere research. Jesus did not scold Thomas or condemn his hesitation. He provided the evidence. Only then did he say to him. Stop doubting and believe.
Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”
John 20:28-29 (HCSB)
In the flow of this wonderful story, John next offered us a record of doubting abandoned. Thomas moved quickly from rough-talking skeptic to willing worshiper. In the New Testament, no one has yet said to Jesus, My Lord and my God.
Here again the theme of our study looms large – believing is seeing. Thomas saw and believed – and that was fine. But happy are the millions who since that day have not had the opportunity of Thomas and the other 10 and yet have believed.
More than 375 times in the Old Testament and 100 times in the New Testament, the Bible talks about blessing. This one is related to faith and especially faith in the resurrection.
Today India recognizes Thomas as the apostle to India because of a long-held tradition that Thomas brought the Gospel to the Kerala area of India, a territory located near the Indian west coast. This tradition is confirmed in the writing of Ephraem, Syrus, Ambrose, Paulinus, Jerome, and Gregory of Tours, as well as other Early Church writers. Afterward, Thomas traveled further eastward to bring the Gospel to the eastern coast of India. Their tradition says that Thomas was killed near the city of Madras – speared to death by pagans who opposed his ministry. In that region today, there remains a bas relief dating to the Seventh Century that states Thomas laid down his life in that area. It is believed that at some point, perhaps during Thomas’ journey to India, he preach the gospel in what is known today as he Iraq and Iran.
Father, I do not give honor to circumstances. You are above any situation I find myself in. I do not look to what my eyes can see. I believe Your Word is at work and is producing that which You have sent it forth to do. I believe and therefore I am blessed. Period.
I pray in Jesus’s name!
DECLARATION OF FAITH
I am not filled with doubt and unbelief but with steadfast faith.
Jesus is my Lord, my friend, and my God. Although I have never seen or touched him (physically), I believe in him; and I am blessed by, in, and through Him.
The Word has been given to me so that I may believe that Jesus is the Christ. Through my believing, and the confession of my faith, I have received eternal life.
I pray this declaration of faith in Jesus’ name!
Holman New Testament Commentary
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