The Standard April 22, 2021
Despite listening to Jesus teach and watching his miracles and interactions, his disciples often were slow to understand certain truths he was trying to impress upon them. Although Jesus had said several times or alluded to the fact that he would have to be put to death and raised up, they did not fully comprehend what this meant. They had not been given the Holy Spirit yet and were confused when Jesus was arrested and crucified.
In retrospect, John wrote about Mary Magdalene going to the tomb early that Easter morning and finding the stone rolled away. She thought people had taken the Lord’s body. Mary told Peter and John about it and they ran to see for themselves. “Finally, the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first [John], also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)” (John 20:8-9)
That evening the disciples were together in a locked room, afraid of what the Jewish leaders might do. Jesus came to them and offered a greeting of peace. He showed them his hands and side, then sent them out by breathing on them and giving the Holy Spirit. Thomas was not with the others when this happened. When they recounted the events to him, he said, “’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.’ A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” (John 20:25b-29)
Like the other disciples, Thomas was confused by the death of Jesus. Although they told him they had seen the resurrected Lord, Thomas wanted to see for himself.
Previously, when Jesus found out his friend Lazarus had died, he told his disciples that together they should go to Judea. Some disciples voiced their objection because enemies had tried to stone Jesus there not so long before. Thomas said to them, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16)
It appears that Thomas was willing to ask questions when he did not understand something. Jesus said, “’Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’” (John 14:1-7)
Once he saw the resurrected Christ, Thomas made a bold statement about the divinity of Jesus and a personal affirmation of his Lordship. Thomas lacked neither conviction nor courage. His doubt was turned into a faith that changed lives across India and beyond. History has it that Thomas was martyred. He saw and believed. Blessed are we who have not seen yet have believed.