In a Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown is talking with Lucy as they walk home on the last day of school. Charlie Brown says to Lucy: “Lucy, I got straight A’s. Isn’t that great!”
Lucy in her typical fashion shoots down poor Charlie Brown and says: I don’t believe you Charlie Brown. “Unless you show me your report card, I cannot believe you.”
Can you relate to Lucy? Seeing is believing, isn’t it? Most people have to see something before they can believe it. I am sure we have all heard, “don’t believe everything that you hear and only half of what you see.” This is often how we described the apostle Thomas, but is this really accurate?
Here are a few questions:
Have you ever felt like you missed something big that everyone else seemed to know?
Have you ever felt like you were not spiritual enough because of your past failures?
Have you ever felt like you could really believe even more in Jesus if you could just catch a glimpse of Him?
If you have ever felt this or anything like this, you would be in good company with Thomas.
From John 20:24-29:
“Now Thomas, 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. Do not doubt but believe. (28) Thomas answered Him, My Lord and my God (29) Jesus said to him, Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
If Thomas was such a loyal follower of Jesus what happened to him? How did he go from follower to famous skeptic?
Thomas was in a downward spiral. He had deserted Jesus on the night that Jesus was arrested. In fact, all of the apostles ran and deserted Him. Can you imagine the kinds of emotions that Thomas was experiencing? He was afraid, confused, ashamed, dismayed and distressed. Thomas had followed Jesus for years and now it all came crashing down around him.
Thomas does not go back to be with the other apostles right away. We don’t know where Thomas went, nor what he was doing or why he stayed away.
When Thomas does return to the apostles he hears that Jesus was raised from the dead and had appeared to them. He denies the testimony of the apostles and this leads him to demand proof. Thomas wants to put his hands where the mark of the nails and where the spear was put in Jesus side.
Jesus knew the heart of Thomas because He offers exactly what he was asking for and Jesus gives him the proof he needed. It is important to note that Jesus was not offended or angered by the request. Jesus responds with love and kindness.
Jesus then begins to speak to Thomas about the real issue and cuts right to the chase. Jesus tells Thomas to stop doubting and believe. What does it mean to doubt? There are two key definitions for doubt. The first means to be double minded or to have a lack of focus or commitment and the second means to have no faith at all.
There are times in life when doubt is healthy and reasonable. I am sure we have all experienced that in more recent times. There is more than enough reason to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead. He was crucified, He had died and was buried. The tomb was empty. He was seen by many people and the apostles were changed in radical ways after that first Easter.
Doubt is not negative until it leads you to choose not to believe. This was exactly what Jesus was warning Thomas about. Literally, Jesus was saying: “Thomas you are acting like a person who has no faith, stop it and believe.”
The only way to survive your doubts is to believe. Now we don’t believe everything that comes our way. Sometimes friends, people we work with and those in elected office give us reason to doubt.
Believing means to put your complete trust in something or someone. To believe in Jesus means to depend totally on Him and to place your trust in Him 100%. Have you put your complete trust in Him or just a partial trust?
Thomas made a personal declaration of trust in Jesus. Where are you in that process?
Jesus tells Thomas that he believed because he saw and was convinced. Maybe you have been caught in a downward spiral and things have been slipping in your spiritual life. Maybe you are just waiting for the chance to see some proof. Jesus is with us now by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He is here waiting for you to turn from your lack of focus and faith to proclaim Him as your Lord and your God.
I do not know what it is that you need today but Jesus does. Just as He knew what Thomas needed so long ago. He knows today what you need and He is waiting to meet that need.