“So the other disciples told [Thomas], ‘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 20:25 (NIV)
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples; but, Thomas wasn’t in the room that night. The disciples later told Thomas in breathless tones, “We have seen the Lord!” Skeptical Thomas didn’t know what to do with this information because it didn’t fit his definition of Jesus. Jesus wasn’t supposed to die. A Messiah doesn’t do that. And then come back to life? What? That’s not in the script either. Thomas had given up on Jesus because nothing had happened the way he thought it should.
I wonder if you and I sometimes find ourselves caught in moments of doubt because the real Jesus – who He really is – just doesn’t fit our script for Him. Thomas defiantly replied, “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.” He needed evidence of who Jesus really was.
The other thing that I think tripped up Thomas, and may trip us up too, is a belief in the God up there but a lack of faith in the God “right here”. Thomas could look into the heavens and see the handiwork of God out there. Even though Thomas couldn’t see the universe as vividly as astronauts have, the wonders of creation – the stars, the moon, the sun – were perhaps enough for him to believe in the God out there. But, apparently, he struggled to believe that Jesus could be the God right here.
I don’t think that doubt is a bad thing. I don’t think it’s a sin. I don’t think it’s incompatible with faith. In fact, I think doubt is a requirement of faith. That is, if you have no doubt, if you are perfectly certain, then you don’t need faith. I don’t think the problem with Thomas was that he doubted but that he required certainty. Jesus indulged Thomas’ request for more data and showed His crucifixion wounds to him. When Thomas finally saw the wounded Jesus of the cross, he believed, exclaiming, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus replied,
“Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus was saying that Thomas had been given virtual certainty, but others would not have as much evidence. Those people who have faith without seeing all the facts will be blessed.
I think we all have our Thomas moments. We might question God because we were expecting something different from Him. Maybe, the miracle we were seeking didn’t happen. Or we might go through times when we believe in the God out there, but we struggle to see the God right here with us. I think this is part of the journey of faith.
As Thomas did, we find our miracle in the miracle of the Resurrection. In the Grand Miracle, we finally can put together the God of outer space with the Jesus of inner space. Jesus enters into our presence and allows us to touch His wounds. Even as He heals our own.