Is Seeing Really Believing Or Is Believing Seeing?


“Now Thomas, (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 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.'” John 20:24-25 NIV.

Doubting Thomas! That’s what people call him. But I have often wondered if that is a fair nickname for him. Perhaps a better name would be Disappointed Thomas or Dillusioned Thomas or even Devastated Thomas.

Why was Thomas so scepical of the good news that Jesus was alive? It’s easy to judge the man because we know nothing of his background and very little of his character.

We know he was a pessimist because he was the one who was resigned to dying with Jesus if they returned to Bethany when they heard that Lazarus was sick. They had been hiding out beyond the Jordan, not because Jesus was afraid, but because it was not His time, but the sisters’ plea had brought them out of hiding and back into range of the Jewish leaders.

What about Martha and Mary? When Jesus did not arrive in time to heal their brother, they were just as full of doubt about Him as Thomas was. Didn’t they both chide Him, “Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died”? They did not understand His ways and they had not yet developed an unshakeable trust in Him. That would come as they realised that what He did was far better than what they expected Him to do.

How much faith did the rest of the disciples have in Jesus? Had He not told them more than once that He would rise again? But, in spite of His many reassurances, they were devastated when He was crucified and went into hiding, feeling lost and abandoned, and not knowing what to do next. Some of them even went back to their old lives of fishing, as though the years with Jesus were just an interlude best forgotten.

At least Thomas was honest enough to express his misgivings out loud. He wanted evidence. He wanted his own personal experience of handling Jesus so that he would be beyond doubt that He was actually alive. After all, he had entrusted himself to Him once, and where had it got him? He was not prepared to stake his life on the testimony of others.

Perhaps Thomas had been seriously let down by someone of significance in his lifeĀ  and he had carried the pain in his heart for a long time. “Once bitten, twice shy.” We will never know, but his vehement protest seems to suggest that he wanted to be very sure about Jesus before he was willing to entrust himself to Him once again.

Perhaps Thomas overreacted, but we can’t blame him because it is human nature to respond with reservation to promises that are not backed up by a trustworthy character. Perhaps he was also over cautious even though Jesus had never given him cause to doubt Him. Whatever Thomas’ reason for wanting hard evidence, at least he, unlike the religious leaders, was prepared to believe if Jesus showed up and he could check Him out for himself.

I think Thomas is a mirror of many of us. We also look for hard evidence when we are in a jam before we are prepared to trust Jesus. Unfortunately for us, in God’s scheme of things it doesn’t work that way. Jesus is no longer here in the flesh and is not likely to turn up in person when our faith has a serious wobble. Thomas’ reluctance to believe led him to a valuable lesson from which we should learn if we want to experience the peace of God in spite of hardships.

Although we cannot have Jesus’ physical presence with us, He has given us the assurance that He is always with us; even better, in us by His Spirit, but we have to accept the trustworthiness of His promise. He said He would rise again and He did. That is feat no one else has ever pulled off! Is that not enough for us to trust Him to make good everything else He promised?

Categories: Bible Study Tags: , , ,

Luella Campbell

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