I’ve always known Thomas, the disciple of Jesus, as ‘Doubting Thomas’. This description of him is based upon the account after the resurrection of Jesus, where 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 it’ (John 20:25). From that one incident he has usually been identified as the doubting disciple. Yet Thomas was one of the twelve Jesus sent out with authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. Afterwards ‘The apostles gathered round Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught’ (Mark 6:30).
Those twelve men had been with Jesus, listening to His teaching and watching Him perform many miracles. Then Jesus had sent them out to teach as He taught and do as He had done, and they did had gone in response to His instruction. Thomas was among that group of disciples. He must have fulfilled what Jesus had commissioned them to do as they went ‘In His Name’.
When Jesus died the bottom was knocked out of Thomas’ world. Like the other disciples he was devastated. None of them had really grasped what Jesus had said to them only a few days earlier - that He would rise from the dead on the third day. Thomas missed the first visit of Jesus to the disciples after the resurrection, and when the others told him they had ‘seen the Lord’, it was more than he could take in. His last glimpse of Jesus was of Him being taken and crucified. He’d witnessed the horrors of what Jesus had to endure, and was bereft of His leadership now. 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 it’ Wouldn’t we have reacted in the same way, if we had been in his shoes?
A week later, when Thomas was in the house with the other disciples Jesus came to them again saying ‘Peace be with you!’ Then Jesus spoke to Thomas, ‘put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe’. This was all Thomas needed. He responded immediately by worshipping Jesus and exclaiming ‘My Lord and my God’. We all have experiences that test our faith, but even in those times I believe the Lord comes to us and says, ‘reach out your hand, stop doubting and believe’. Coming through those experiences we’re also able to declare with confidence, ‘My Lord and my God’.
Prayer: O Lord Jesus Christ, I am sorry for those times when I have struggled in unbelief and doubt, and I thank You for who and what You are, the risen and exalted Saviour, my Lord and my God. As I reach out my hand to You, please take it and hold it, and lead me into deeper experiences of Your loving presence. Amen.