We typically refer to him with the nickname “Doubting Thomas.” But does he deserve such a title? Before we cast judgment, let’s step into his sandals.
Remember, Thomas lived on the other side of Easter. He followed Jesus from the beginning. He watched Jesus restore sight to the blind. He heard Jesus say, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He watched in amazement as Jesus feed 5,000 people with a boys lunch.
Thomas had high expectations for what was to come. Yet, prior to the seeing the realization of those expectations … Jesus was crucified. Days later Thomas heard news of the resurrection. If I were in Thomas’ sandals, perhaps we’d be talking about “Doubting Jeff.”
Thomas wanted to see the nail marks. He wanted to put his hands into the side of the resurrected Jesus. Thomas said, “I’ll believe when it when I see it.” Perhaps you’ve said such a thing before.
There is a good thing about doubt. At times doubt leads us to wrestle with important things and drives us to deeper faith. Where does doubt lead Thomas?
Thomas’ declaration was accurate and personal.
The resurrected Jesus appeared to the disciples. He greeted them, “Peace be with you” but focused his attention on Thomas. I love this demonstration of grace. Jesus invited Thomas to place his finger into his hand and side. “Stop doubting and believe,” Jesus instructed.
In response, Thomas makes what I believe to be the strongest declaration in the New Testament (John 20:28): “My Lord and my God!”
It’s an accurate confession. Jesus is both Lord and God. The resurrection proves it.
Want to escape death? Try doing it on your own.
Want to rid yourself of sin? Try doing it on your own.
Want to find true hope in this world? It only comes through an empty tomb.
The resurrection proves Jesus is the Lord and God who is more than able to provide life, forgiveness, and hope.
My Lord and my God is an accurate declaration. Yet, the personal, possessive pronouns make this an intimate, intimate declaration. My Lord and My God! This is not a rehearsed or reused phrase. This is the declaration of a man who had a first-hand experience with the risen Lord.
Thomas’ declaration needs to be our confession.
We need to make a confession about Jesus filled with personal, possessive pronouns. Yes, Jesus is Lord and God. But what good is that declaration if he is not my Lord and my God?
Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day to provide victory over sin and death. That includes your opportunity to experience victory over sin and death.
Jesus told Thomas in John20:29, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That is a word to you and me.
Christian community is essential to following the risen Lord.
The word “essential” took on a new meaning in the last year of pandemic life. Early on in the pandemic, government officials determined what businesses and activities were essential. Christian community has been essential since the very first Easter morning.
Thomas missed the first appearance of the resurrected Jesus because he was not with the group.Thus, he had to rely on second-hand information. Too many people have a second-hand faith – living off the experience of others. The other disciples had seen the nail scarred hands. The disciples told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord!” To which he replied, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
I wonder how much you’ve missed out on because you’ve missed out on Christian community. Church is not optional. Church is essential.
If you doubt – may God move you from doubt to belief.
If you believe – may you confess Jesus as your Lord and God and live like it. It is impossible to follow Jesus while straddling a fence. It is impossible to follow Jesus on a part-time basis. There is no place for the lukewarm, casually committed Christians.
Now is the time to declare that Jesus is Lord and God.
Now is the time to confess Jesus is my Lord and my God.