Touched by the Lord

John 20

[24] Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. [25] So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"

But he said to them, "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."

[26] 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!" [27] 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."

[28] Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

[29] Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

[30] Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. [31] But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Thomas has gotten quite a bad rap. Over the centuries, his name has become synonymous with doubt. We often refer to a person as a “doubting Thomas”. Some have even given the impression that he was somehow weak of faith or lacking in courage. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that Thomas was no more doubtful than any other disciple. No one believed Jesus was raised from the dead until they saw it for themselves. When the initial reports came in from the women, none of the disciples believed them “because their words seemed to them like nonsense”.

When Peter and John first saw the empty tomb they went away wondering what had happened (Luke 24:11-12). John reported that he saw and believed but then added that he really didn’t understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead (20:9).

Thomas certainly did not lack courage. When things were getting dangerous, it was Thomas who spoke up and said, "Let us also go, that we may die with him" (John 11:16). If anything, Thomas carried a seriousness and sense of gravity concerning the destiny of Jesus. He was ready at any moment to die with Jesus or die for Him. Courage was not lacking.

Thomas was simply a no-nonsense guy. When Jesus said to the disciples, “You know the way to the place where I am going." It was Thomas who spoke up and said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" (John 14:4-5). Everyone was thinking the same thing, but only Thomas had the courage to pipe up and ask. That was Thomas. He didn’t just sit back and pretend things were fine when there were questions in the air.

So it is little wonder that Thomas was so graphic in his demand for proof. He was not going to be fooled by some trick. "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." Though his demand seems intrusive it very much reflects the analytic sort of person that Thomas was.

People often assume that Thomas actually put his finger where the nails were and his hand into Jesus’ side. But this is not what the text says. When we read carefully we see that although Jesus offered His hands and side to Thomas there is no record that he actually touched these holy wounds. Personally, I believe that Thomas was too overwhelmed to touch such a holy and tender place.

Jesus commanded Thomas to stop doubting and believe. Thomas obeyed and proclaimed his faith, "My Lord and my God!" Faith came by hearing and was followed by obedience.

Jesus responded saying that Thomas had seen and believed. Not all would have the privilege of seeing as Thomas did. He believed and made that declaration without touching. The truth is that we never believe because we have touched Jesus but rather because He has touched us! We hear and we are touched. Even Thomas discovered this.

Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? John says that all these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. He has reached out to touch you with his life, death and resurrection. In doing so, He commands that you stop doubting and believe.

Lord, I believe! I place my full weight upon your life and work upon the cross. I do not know all the answers but I trust wholly in what You have done for me. I lean not upon what I may think I have done for You. Thank You for the gift of Life. In Jesus’ name.