I will be away for a while and would like to have a short chat before I go. I will be back for our usual conversation by the end of the month.
I marvel at the Bible stories that sometimes give the most astonishing details and other times just gloss over decades of history. No doubt the details are important and God speaks through those particulars of people and events. It is like the telescope of history suddenly zooms in to a cameo or vignette to focus on a subject of learning. Let us learn and rejoice!
One of the followers of Jesus was crowned the king of doubt. Thomas made a statement that marked him through all ages as Doubting Thomas. It became so natural to associate his name with doubt. Today it is used as a joke and an insult. Let us change that forever – now.
Thomas is mentioned quite a few times in the Gospels. Matthew, Mark and John mention his calling, together with Phillip, Bartholomew, Andrew, James and others. In John 11:16 Thomas makes a bold and brave statement that reveals his dedication and love for Jesus:
Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
These are not the words with which we associate him and still, it is profound words of commitment to the teaching he has received and his love for the Teacher.
John 14 – 17 are chapters that reveal the heart of our Lord Jesus. Sometimes when life is rough or just too busy and rushed, I get this urge to hear the words of Jesus. I grab these chapters and truly “hear” His soothing and powerful words.
In any circumstances, John 14:1 will calm us down. [The Message]
“Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”
I am convinced that Jesus was not talking about the end of time, although I believe that there are many levels of interpretation possible and necessary. He talked about the work of the Holy Spirit, the Promise of His Father to be with those He loved so much. The Holy Spirit is the diffusion of the Presence after the Ascension. The Holy Spirit enables us to be with Jesus all the days of life and for all time until the Second Coming.
In verse 5 Thomas asks Jesus about the road He mentioned.
Thomas said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?”
Note that Jesus did not scold him for asking a dumb question. Jesus answers Thomas with words that became one of the most quoted, deeply reverenced scriptures of all time revealing Jesus as the One and Only. Verse 6:
Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”
The crucifixion of Jesus scattered the disciples. During the arrest in the Garden of Gesemane, some disciples fled. We find Peter and John in the courtyard during the trial, trying to follow proceedings. Peter’s betrayal takes place after he boldly followed the soldiers into the courtyard of the high priest’s dwellings. The cruelty of the Romans was a fact of life. Fear was understandable. Some historical accounts state that lots of alcohol was available to the soldiers who were charged with this horrible type of execution, to give them courage to go through with it.
Most of the disciples probably hid behind locked doors to escape the inevitable Roman backlash to kill off Jesus’ followers. This did not happen and is one of the mysteries of the trial.
Fearful and stunned they waited until Mary brought them the news of the resurrection. Peter and John cast fear aside and ran to the grave to inspect for themselves. That same evening they went back into hiding, behind locked doors [John 20:19] confused by the disappearance of the body. Jesus came and stood in their midst. His first words to them: Peace be with you.
Understandably His first words would be something to calm them down. They must have been out of their minds with panic and fear, as well as this “ghost” coming through the wall. He calms them and talks to them, breathes on them to receive the Holy Spirit and empowers them to go forth with His work, but [verse 24] Thomas was not there.
He hears the story from the others. What was he to do? Did they conspire to feel better? They could have made it all up. He was not going to fall for this story and be made a fool, so he did the rational thing and 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.
A week later, Jesus appears in spite of locked doors, just as they told Thomas He did the first time. [John 20:26] He addresses Thomas and responds directly to his own words to the disciples.
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.”
What a wonderful encounter. Thomas cries out in awe and wonder:
My Lord and my God!
The Bible does not say if he really touched Jesus first, but the point is that he had the invitation to investigate.
I think the physical investigation that he previously demanded, was not necessary anymore in the Presence of Jesus. The sheer presence of the One Thomas obviously loved, was enough to convince him of the truth.
Jesus Himself confirmed every detail of the account his fellow disciples gave Thomas and invited him to investigate and believe. The desire to investigate is not wrong.
The invitation stands firm. Come and investigate Jesus, His word and His life. He will reveal Himself to you just like He did to Thomas. You will cry out in awe and wonder when you see Him face to face through the Holy Spirit.
Again Jesus answered him with words that echoed through the ages: [Verse 29]
Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
Come and investigate, search the Scriptures, discern the times and receive life in His name. Thomas needed a little more to be sure and Jesus gave it to him. If you seek, you will find. Ask the extra bit and He will meet you at the level of your expectation. That is the promise.
‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’
[Jeremiah 33:3. The Message]