Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, has always intrigued me. Partly because my actual first name is Thomas, named for one of my great uncles who was like a second grandfather to me. But also because I find myself relating to him beyond our common name. We both have struggled with common doubts.
Easter is coming in a few months and it was during that time that we learn of Thomas and his doubts. What strikes me about this reality is that Easter is the greatest day in all of Christianity. It is the day that sets us apart from all other groups. Jesus died, but He rose from the grave on Easter Sunday!
Jesus Christ, one who had given His life on the cross to make a way for sinners like us to be forgiven of our sins and bridge the gap between us and a Holy God, had His body laid into a borrowed tomb for three days. Then, just as He said He would do, Jesus came up out of the grave, victorious over death, hell, and the grave!
That day, a day that should be filled with hope, new beginnings, and excitement, finds Thomas doubting.
Looking back on that day and the events that followed, it would be easy to go, come on Tommy boy, this is a no brainer, Jesus is alive. This is a day of victory not defeat. Yet, if we are honest, we walk that same path. I know I do.
And Thomas was not alone in struggling on that day. Jesus on that first Easter, appeared to His disciples. They were in the upper room, with the door locked and scared to death.
Get the picture, Jesus is alive, they had been told that already. Peter and John had seen the empty tomb. Mary had seen Him and gave eyewitness account.
But they still did not believe, and they were hiding out in their locked doors, all the while, Jesus was not dead, He was live.
I am not casting stones, in this day we all must take precautions, we must be safe, we have to do all we can to keep others well, but we do not have to live in fear and doubts.
Jesus came to them, through the locked doors and said to them, do not be afraid. He does the same for us today. He comes to where we are. He comes to our place of fear and doubt and speaks peace. The disciples were greatly encouraged and we can be as well.
But Thomas was missing that day. No matter what they told him, he would not believe. He had missed it. Doubts came as he missed an encounter with Jesus.
Question? Are you missing some encounters with Jesus?
Have you engaged in worship weekly either in person or online? Notice I said, engaged, not just attend the service or have the online service on while you do something else. Have you drawn close with a heart of worship?
Are you meeting Him daily in His word and in prayer?
Are you looking for divine appointments at school, work or in your daily life?
When is the last time you got quiet before the Lord and just spent time in His presence?
I am asking myself these same questions. They are not easy, but they speak to the source of our fear and doubts. It is an encounter with Jesus for the disciples then that brought peace and the same is true for us today!
He has promised if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. Jesus tells us in Revelation 3, He is standing at the door knocking, wanting to be let in and fellowship with you and me.
Have you done that latley? Just spend time with Jesus as if at a meal, not rushing, just being in His word, in prayer and in His presence? Food for thought.
We need the encounters with Jesus to help us in our fears and doubts, He alone can make the difference!
Let me focus back to Thomas.
He was not there so he tells them until he sees Jesus for himself, he would not believe, therefore the label – doubting Thomas. Before we judge him, we must take a hard look at our own doubts. I think one of the reasons it is easy to pick on Thomas for doubting is it hides the fact of our own faith struggles.
Thomas followed the Lord, loved the Lord and at one point even proclaimed He was willing to die for the Lord (John 11). Yet, here he is, on Easter Sunday, struggling to believe the truth.
I must admit to you that I have often been in His shoes. I know I am saved; I love Jesus, I desire to follow Him with all of my heart, but there are moments when my faith is weak. I know the truth, yet I struggle to embrace it in my personal life when faced with impossible situations and trials.
That may sound strange coming from a pastor, but the more I read the word of God, I see many people who followed God, who had pledged their life to Him and yet had moments of doubt.
David, Abraham, Moses, and John the Baptist – all at times wrestled in their faith. Knowing that Jesus is able but struggling to trust Him in a moment of weakness.
The good news for Thomas and for us is that our doubts do not have to define us.
Jesus did not forsake Thomas and He will not forsake us. He will come to us. That is what He did one week later. He came to the disciples again and Thomas was there this time. Jesus came right to Thomas and repeated exactly the words to him that Thomas had said to the disciples. In seeing Jesus, Thomas fully believed and cried out “my Lord and my God”.
I am so thankful, that Jesus did not just come to Thomas, but He will come to us as well. Jesus can restore our faith and cast out our doubts and give us strength for the journey ahead. His promise for us is true, “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believe, blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
He was talking about you and me! May God help us to embrace this truth and trust fully in Jesus!
By the way, Thomas lived out his faith in Christ in such a way that he died as a martyr. Doubts may come, but they do not have to define us forever. We can move forward by faith and finish well. Thomas did and so can we!