Matthew 28:9-15; Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35
Then Jesus told him, "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me." – John 20:29 NLT
In the days following His resurrection, Jesus continued to appear to His disciples at various times. On one of these occasions, when Jesus had suddenly appeared in a room where the disciples had gathered behind locked doors, Thomas had been absent for some reason. And when he was told later by the other disciples "We have seen the Lord!" (John 20:25 NLT), he responded in disbelief and doubt. "I won't believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side" (John 20:25 NLT). Eight days later, he would get his wish fulfilled, when Jesus appeared to them once again. It's interesting to note that they are meeting behind locked doors again, even though they have seen the risen Lord. They're fearful of the Jewish religious leaders, who have accused them of stealing the body of Jesus. But Jesus appears to them yet again, and this time Thomas is there. Jesus knew what Thomas had said the last time and so He offers him a chance to satisfy his doubt. "Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don't be faithless any longer. Believe" (John 20:27 NLT). Can you imagine the shame and embarrassment that Thomas must have felt as Jesus stood before him, offering him the opportunity to stick his fingers into the wounds in His hands and place his hand into the wound in His side? When Thomas had made his bold statement of doubt, it had been dripping with sarcasm. He refused to believe what the others had said. True to his nickname, "Doubting Thomas," he could not bring himself to accept the fact that Jesus was alive. But now, the evidence was standing right in front of his face, and Jesus simple says, "Don't be faithless any longer. Believe." Jesus confronted his disbelief and lack of faith. He demanded him to become "Believing Thomas." And as a result, all Thomas can say is, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28 NLT). To which Jesus responds, "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me" (John 20:29 NLT). Jesus knew that there were going to be many who would never have the privilege and honor of having seen the risen Lord with their own two eyes. He was going to return to the Father and His physical presence would be removed from this earth. But there would be many who would hear the news of His life, death and resurrection – and believe. They would hear the Good News and respond in faith.
Jesus went out of His way to assure His disciples that He had risen from the dead. He addressed their doubts. He assuaged their fears. He gave them evidence in order to eliminate their lingering doubts. John tells us that they "saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name" (John 20:30-31 NLT). John recorded all these events so that those who came after him might know exactly who Jesus was and all that He had done. He shared his eyewitness testimony to the life of Jesus. He gave detailed witness to the events surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection. He was given the benefit of seeing Jesus alive so that he might be motivated to tell others of the truth of Jesus' claims. Jesus WAS the Messiah. He truly was the Son of God. He really had died on the cross for the sins of man. He did give His life and take on the sins of all mankind so that we might be restored to a right relationship with God. It was all true, and John went out of his way to put it in writing, so that we might believe. And Jesus calls to us today, just as He did to Thomas, "Don't be faithless any longer. Believe!"
Father, it is so easy to doubt. It just seems to come naturally to us as human beings. Even after all Jesus has done for us, we can still so easily doubt the reality of who He is and what He had done. We can doubt that we have the forgiveness He died to provide. We can doubt we have the power He said He would make available to us through the Holy Spirit. We can doubt Your love for us, even though His death was the greatest expression of Your love. We can doubt He is with us, even though He constantly intercedes for us in Your presence. We can doubt He is ever coming back, in spite of the fact that He promised He would. Help us to not be faithless any longer, but believe. Amen.