Day 4

Encounters with Christ: Thomas

from the reading plan

John 20:24-31

“I’ll believe it when I see it.”
“Put your money where your mouth is.”
“Prove it.”

We’ve all heard people say these words before. We’ve likely said them ourselves. Phrases like these indicate skepticism. They express our doubts about a situation.

Here’s another phrase we’re likely familiar with: “doubting Thomas.” That’s someone who says those first three phrases all the time. He is a perpetual questioner, hard to convince and win over, needing incontrovertible proof before agreeing or believing.

That’s being awfully hard on the original Thomas, though. In John 20, Jesus appears to the disciples after His resurrection, but Thomas was not with them. Put yourself in Thomas’s shoes. You get back from running some errands or visiting family, and when you meet up with your friends again, what you hear is unbelievable. Literally, unbelievable. They insist that Jesus—the one you staked all your hope on, the one you saw die a criminal’s death—is alive. Who could believe that? Dead people do not come back to life. That is what the word “dead” means.

But your friends insist. You know they’re not insane and you can tell they aren’t pulling your leg. But dead is dead. Neither, though, can you just discount their sincerity. You say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” You don’t believe, but you leave the door open in case the impossible happens.

That’s what Thomas did. Is that doubting? Yes, but it seems reasonable to me. After all, Jesus died and was buried in a tomb hewn of stone. And they were all witnesses to this fact.

What Jesus does next is beautiful; it’s exactly what Thomas needs in order to believe. Thomas said he would believe only if he could touch the scars in Jesus’ hands and side, so Jesus appears and shows Thomas the wounds. Jesus shows patience, grace, and understanding by giving Thomas what he needs to believe.

And Thomas does believe. He doesn’t cling to his skepticism or let pride get in the way. He doesn’t take time to come around. Immediately, Thomas responded with, “My Lord and my God!” That’s worship—the kind a risen Jesus deserves.

This passage closes with an exhortation from Jesus Himself, one that all of us who are doubters and questioners must cling to. Jesus says, “Those who believe without seeing are blessed” (v. 29). He isn’t calling us to blind, ignorant faith the way so many skeptics see it. He is calling us to trust His Word and promises.

Thomas had heard Jesus talk about dying and rising many times, yet still he doubted. We often do the same, but we would be happier and closer to Jesus if we took His Word to heart and simply believed.

Remember, He already proved His promises in His resurrection. What more do we need?

Written By Barnabas Piper

Post Comments (18)

18 thoughts on "Encounters with Christ: Thomas"

  1. Mike Dsane says:

    Our natural bent is towards the measurable and tangible. This is not even sinful by necessity but it does rope us of wonder and faith. There are aspects of heart level trust and belief that surpass knowledge. But unless the Spirit grants this, we will rely on what we can feel and measure and master, which is an indirect way of relying on ourselves.

  2. Mike Dsane says:

    There is space in the Gospel for the reluctant. While Christ makes a distinction between those who have believed without seeing and those for whom seeing was required, at the end of the day- but receive him. If the Gospel requires perfect faith without struggle to work, than the Gospel would not be sufficient of itself. It would be the Gospel plus perfect obedience and understanding. But Christ saves those with questions and hurts and reservations.

  3. Mike Dsane says:

    Throughout this reading plan, I continue to be reminded of the patience and kindness of God to allow us to see what we cannot perceive.

    I have heard one theologian speak of God bending down on a knee like a parent to lisp to us that we might understand him. That he would condescend himself to the demands of proof of a reluctant disciple is one of the most glorious aspects of the Resurrection narratives.

  4. Mike Dsane says:

    Oddly, this frees me up to be honest. In place where I doubt and fear, I can speak those things honestly among my brothers and sisters and to the Lord. The Lord is not intimidated by my reluctance.

    It also stirs me towards patience with the men I am discipling and doing life with. If Christ, who had no error in his obedience and display of the glory of God, could condescend to Thomas’ level of trust- how much more should I slow down and lead from alongside those he has given me the ability to walk with?

  5. Mike Dsane says:

    Lord, grant me an honesty about my reluctance and doubts. Give me grace to confess where I don’t trust you.

  6. Mark says:

    We doubt but we should not let our pride get in the way of faith. God is all powerful. We don’t see that all the time but should not let our experience limit our faith in the omnipotent God.

  7. Mark says:

    The gospel is accessible to everyone regardless of intelligence or experience as long as we don’t put barriers ourselves of pride and ego.

  8. Mark says:

    Lord help me always to recognize your hands at work in my life.

  9. Matt Rouse says:

    Man has a hard time believing plain and simple. We shouldn’t expect faith to be easy. After all we are placing our eternal hopes in something unseen! God is patient with us!

  10. Matt Rouse says:

    The gospel isn’t just for great believers! It is for ordinary unschooled men who are trying to overcome doubts and fears about eternity. Jesus is the solution to those doubts!! He is and always will be. He will always come through!

  11. Matt Rouse says:

    God is patient with us! We don’t have to be the perfect Christian in order to be loved by God. He loves us first so that we can love him desperately. He does t make us figure it out on our own. He is there giving us what we need to be a sold out follower.

  12. Payton Sanislow says:

    This shows how foolish we are when we are trying to Look for something instead of maintaining that strong Christian Faith.

  13. Payton Sanislow says:

    God wants us to believe without seeing Christ because that is what faith is all about. It’s a test that will show our true love towards God.

  14. Payton Sanislow says:

    Responding to something like this is studying His word daily and not being a lazy Christian so that others can not really see but feel God’s presence through our work for Him.

  15. Payton Sanislow says:

    The Gospel displays how God reacts to this. Jesus says that all who believe without seeing and just believing are blessed.

  16. Payton Sanislow says:

    We need to pray that we do not act like a fool and not have that strong faith. That faith is the fire and by not seeing and believing we are literally dumping gasoline on the fire so we grow closer and closer to Christ.

  17. Landen Howell says:

    Doubting is a part of being human. Thomas was an apostle, yet he doubted. We can find comfort in this in our moments of doubt

  18. Landen Howell says:

    God takes joy in giving us what we need. Whether that be touching his scars in order to believe like Thomas, or putting food on the table when there is no money left for food. Jesus will always show us who He is

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