One of the twelve disciples. Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my finger into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” -John 20:24, 25
Just a few weeks earlier, Jesus received word that His friend Lazarus had died, and He was heading back to Bethany to “wake him up.” Thomas urged his fellow disciples, “Let’s go too-and die with Jesus” (John 11:11, 16).
The threats were real. The religious authorities were plotting Jesus’ death, and the raising of Lazarus provoked them further. But rather than staying to “die with Jesus,” Thomas deserted, slipping into the night from Gethsemane, splitting from the others during the terrors of the trial and crucifixion, and missing on resurrection Sunday evening. Then when told, “We have seen the Lord!” he bluntly responded, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands… and place my hand into the wound in his side” (John 20:24, 25). He wanted to see and touch the evidence!
But the evidence was stacking up. There was evidence of the empty tomb, the grave clothes left behind, and the head scarf neatly folded. There was the witness of Mary and other women who had seen Jesus, spoken with Him, and held Him. He had appeared to Peter and walked and talked with the two on the way to Emmaus. He had come to the locked room to spend time with the disciples, giving evidence that He had physically risen from death by eating fish and teaching from the Scriptures. But Thomas would not believe it.
There was evidence of the temple. The priests and temple authorities were dealing with a chaotic situation. The curtain separating the Holy from the Most Holy Place was in tatters. Then an early morning earthquake was followed by reports from the soldiers that angels had appeared to roll back the tombstone and that Jesus was alive. Also, the city was in turmoil with the frightening arrival of people who had died but was now walking the streets (see Matthew 27:50-53). Even with their bribes, the priests could not silence the evidence. Yet Thomas would not believe.
There was evidence of Scripture and the promises of Jesus. The prophets wrote of the suffering and death of the Messiah but that the “Holy One” would not “rot in the grave” (Psalm 16:10, footnote). Jesus had promised His resurrection on the third day, prefigured by the Jewish festivals. On their Jewish calendar, He died on Passover Day, with resurrection Sunday (the 16th day of the first month) being the day when Jews brought the first sheaves of their grain harvests to the temple (see Leviticus 23:10). Jesus was the “first fruits” of those resurrected from the dead, with many more to rise (see 1 Corinthians 15:20-22).
Thomas would not believe it, but the next Sunday Jesus suddenly appeared again, and this time Thomas was there. “Peace be with you,” Jesus said. Then to Thomas, He said, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” (John 20:26, 27).
“My Lord and my God!’ Thomas exclaimed” (John 20:28). And Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me” (John 20:29).
Some were mystified by the resurrection.
Some were skeptical of the reports; others were antagonistic and hostile. But the gospel writers were eyewitnesses to the evidence, and the accuracy of their reports could be verified or contradicted by many alive at the time of their writing. John indicates there was much more that he could have written, but what he recorded was “written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name” (John 20:30, 31).
- How do you respond to moments of doubt or uncertainty that our God is good? Jesus knows every one of them and is saying, “I died for you and I am alive. Come, put your finger on my wounds and experience Me.”
- Pray for those who have yet to receive the Good News in their language so that they may come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for them and is now alive.
This Pentecost season join other Christ followers to give God’s Word to those who do not have the Good News in their language.
Thank you for giving the Living Word to the Bibleless.
GIVE GOD'S WORD TO THE BIBLELESS
To Be Continued...
On earth, just a handful of Galileans watched in awe as Jesus ascended. Two heavenly beings arrived, confirming that the post-resurrection appearances of the last 40 days were now over-but for a few exceptional occurrences.