Allow me to cut and paste what I wrote while gemming John. Bible Gem 117 – Doubting Thomas (Jn 20:24-29)
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 fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in His side.” Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” He said. Then He said to Thomas, “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!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing Me.”John 20:24-29
Interesting isn’t it. It is clear that Jesus had the nail marks in his hands and feet. But still Mary didn’t recognise Him and confused him for the Gardener.
“Don’t cling to Me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find My brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them His message.John 20:17-18
I wonder if Mary put her finger in His nail holes before He told her to take her hands off. I suspect she may have. She appears to me to be a tactile sort of person and she was a woman. We noted yesterday that Jesus told her not to touch Him. The sacrifice needed to be pure and untouched to ascend to the Father. Notice Jesus tells her to find “the brothers” and tell them that He is ascending to His Father and your Father, to His God and your God. Interesting isn’t it. His Father and His God. our Father and our God. Note Thomas’ classic comment when he has accepted the fact of the resurrection and believed.
Thomas was a practical kind of guy. Note his response to the others saying they had seen the Lord. “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in His hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in His side.” Now there is stark skepticism. Ever stopped to think that Thomas didn’t say a word when Jesus walked through the walls. Jesus says to Thomas “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!” Can you imagine what was going through Thomas’ mind in that moment?
“Oh Lord did you hear what I said? But you were nowhere in sight.”
Then Thomas’ response and depth of insight is impressive. “My Lord and my God!” He doesn’t make any comments about Jesus being the Messiah or the Anointed One, the Son of Man or the Son of God. he goes straight to the essence of the issue with one of the strongest comments recorded in Scripture related to Jesus being God. He has got it! Isn’t it interesting that it’s so often the ones who struggle with doubt and questions of unbelief at the beginning, who go further on the journey of faith. Give people the space to be themselves and allow them to ask the questions they need to.
Notice how this section closes. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen Me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing Me.” That’s us! Me and you. We each have a different pathway to faith. Allow your brother to walk his path and don’t insist he walks yours.
We call him Doubting Thomas but that is not how he finished. The encounter concluded with Thomas making his grand statement as to who Jesus is. There is no shame in asking searching questions and wanting to check things out first. It is clear from Luke’s account that the other disciples had their doubts and were not willing to just believe, despite having seen Him for themselves at the end they were still disbelieving. Not only that but they had had a number of their own tell them they had “seen the Lord” but they were still unwilling to take the reports at face value and believe. We call Thomas, Doubting Thomas, but in truth all disciples could have “Doubting” attached to their names as well, not just Thomas.
Some of you have wondered if the versions of Luke and John are of the same event. Yes they are. What is even clearer when comparing both accounts is that Jesus appeared twice to The Eleven. There are a number of indications that Luke and John describe the same meeting but then John adds that eight days later Jesus appeared again to the remaining disciples while they were behind locked doors. Jesus again suddenly appears in their midst. This is after Thomas has met with his fellow disciples and heard their report of Jesus’ appearance to them at a time when Thomas was not present. John reports for us that Thomas’ response is to say, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in His hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in His side.” He is no different from the other disciples in being skeptical of their tale of seeing the risen Jesus. It is a pity that more of us don’t want to put our fingers in the nail holes in order to convince ourselves of the truth. Remember the week before Jesus told the disciples “[pselaphao] – touch Me, feel Me, handle Me, hold Me.” But we are not told in Scripture that any of them did that. Then a week later Jesus said to Thomas, “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!” Neither are we told that Thomas does any touching or feeling. The evidence of their eyes was enough. But up until then they were not believing what their eyes were telling them. So much so that Jesus ate a piece of fish to show them He was not a ghost or an apparition. Now a week later Jesus appears again and is up close and personal with His wounds.
Luke version makes it clear to us the disciples were full of doubt. John’s account is all about believing. Jesus appeared to them again and again to reassure them He was alive and well and resurrected from the dead. There are a string of “appearance stories” indicating that Jesus wanted the Eleven to believe. The next stage was dependant on that. Thomas, the one we disparage so much for his doubts was no different from the others. A week later Jesus appears just for Thomas in order to convince him of the truth of the resurrection. Maybe, just maybe, it was not for Thomas alone. One would expect the others had “got it” by the time Jesus came back again to appear to Thomas, but their track record had not been great. Despite numerous appearances they were still struggling to comprehend it. This appearance for Thomas sealed it for him and clearly put to rest any doubt among the others. There are no more doubts mentioned related to the disciples. They have been put to rest. Have yours?
Learn to hold your smarts loosely in the light of God’s TRUTH.Ian Vail
Never judge someone for their doubts! We all have them.Anon
Resolve your own doubts first before you seek to lead others.Ian Vail
Sometimes what we think we know is just an illusion that needs to be reinterpreted in the light of Heaven’s perspective.Ian Vail