After Jesus had risen from the dead He appeared to the disciples a number of times. However Thomas missed His first appearance to the disciples.
Thomas it seems had a few issues. Many times he is painted as being a doubter and not believing things unless he saw it for himself. Now there are two ways to look at this. First, he could be seen as lacking faith and being suspicious. But then he could be seen as being too cautious and not willing to accept things without proof, especially when those who are telling you those things are trustworthy.
The way that Jesus handles this situation tells us a lot about how He helps His people and tells us a lot about faith, trust and promises to us today.
After Thomas missed seeing Jesus the first time He appeared in the upper room, Thomas refused to believe it was Jesus unless he could see the nail marks in His hands and put his finger in the hole in Jesus side where the spear had pierced. Thomas wanted proof! He wanted to be 100% certain that it was Jesus. He wanted to go down the “Seeing is believing” path to know absolutely that there was no mistake.
Now sometimes it is necessary that we do the same as Thomas. It is not a bad thing to seek absolute proof about things, especially when they seem utterly incredible and unbelievable. Why should we believe such things that seem to be totally unbelievable? If there is only one witness to a thing then for the most part it should be taken at face value until it is established by other verifiable evidence.
However in Thomas' case, the witnesses were totally credible. In this case he SHOULD have believed what they said for they were true and there were many of them saying exactly the same thing.
But Jesus needed all of His disciples to know that He had been raised from the dead. This included Thomas for he had an allotted share in the work to be done, and one of the key messages in that work was to testify to the resurrection of Jesus.
So in order for that to be certain in Thomas' mind, Jesus appeared to all of the disciples again, but this time Thomas was amongst them.
Jesus said to Thomas when He appeared, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (Vs 27) All of the things that Thomas had demanded as proof that it was Jesus, Thomas was given the opportunity to test. Jesus wanted Thomas to believe so that he would know and be able to speak the truth about the resurrection.
And Thomas believed. Thomas recognised Jesus saying, “My Lord and my God.” (Vs 28.)
Did Jesus congratulate Thomas or praise Him because he now believed? No. He pointed out that to have a lack of faith when being told something from many trustworthy sources was wrong. The rest of the disciples had seen and testified to Jesus' resurrection and that should have been enough. And Jesus went on showing a great blessing that we receive today.
The Promise to Us
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (Vs 29)
There is a tremendous blessing in this verse for us. Thomas believed on the basis of “seeing is believing.” But The Lord pronounces a blessing on those who have faith without seeing. He says those who believe reliable and credible witnesses without having to see for themselves are more blessed even than those who see, because they must rely on faith.
And as we know, the entire New Covenant and all of the promises of God are based upon and grounded in faith. Indeed as Paul said, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7. We stand in God through faith, we receive the promises of God through faith, we are set free from sin through faith, we receive the rewards that Jesus gives us through faith and we walk with Jesus into the Kingdom of God through faith.
Everything in the New Covenant is bound up in faith. And that is why it is so important that we do believe without seeing, and thus we receive all these many blessings.
Yes it is a good thing to be cautious about what we see or hear when there is no witness to prove one way or the other. But it is also important to listen to those who are credible witnesses to and of the kingdom of God, especially the apostles, prophets, elders and teachers who gave us the Bible, so that we may learn and grow in the truth.
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