Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side. The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.” Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?” But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.” But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.” Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.” Thomas said, “My Master! My God!” (John 20:19-28, Msg)
I finished reading the Gospel of John this morning in my fourth reading of the New Testament this year. There are three things that stand out to me in the above passage.
1) When we fail to gather together with other believers, we miss seeing Jesus when He comes. We miss having Him breathe on us so we might receive from Him. Have you ever missed church on Sunday because you were sick or out of town, and then had your friends telling you about the wonderful sermon or the amazing things that happened during the service? No matter how much they tell you, no matter their enthusiasm and excitement, you just can’t quite “get it” because you didn’t experience it yourself. Like Thomas, we may even doubt that what they tell us actually happened because we didn’t see it with our own eyes. In order not to miss out, we must show up and participate in our local body of believers.
2) Thomas gets a bum rap as the doubter. The truth is, none of the disciples believed Jesus would rise from the dead. He told them and told them, and still they doubted. They were all taken by surprise when Jesus rose. They were all taken by surprise when He showed up in their midst and showed them His pierced hands and feet. But Thomas got labeled as “Doubting Thomas” because he wasn’t present the first time (see #1 above). He had to wait 8 whole days!
3) Despite having to wait and even doubting what the others had told him, Thomas was the first of the disciples to recognize Jesus as not only his Lord, not only as the Christ, but as God. Amazing!
Open my eyes, Lord. I want to see Jesus…