John 20:19-2419 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), 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.”
Where in the world was Thomas when the rest of the disciples were together and were among the first to see the Resurrected Lord? Seriously?
The rest of the disciples, after they had deserted Jesus, after Jesus had been crucified, had at least found each other. They pulled together, and Jesus, the Resurrected Lord, appeared to them. We don’t know how He got into the room, whether He came through the walls or door or just how He got in, but we know one minute He wasn’t there, and the next minute, He was, and Thomas missed it.
Jesus offered them peace, something they all needed because the very reason they were holed up with the doors locked was because they were afraid. When Jesus showed up, He met their deepest need, their need for peace, and Thomas missed it.
After that, Jesus showed the disciples his hands and side. They were presented with evidence that this was, in fact, the crucified Christ, who was risen and standing before them. They went from depressed and dejected to joyful and jubilant, and Thomas missed it.
Next, everyone in that room was sent or commissioned by Jesus for the preaching of this new Gospel message. They received their post-resurrection assignment, and Thomas missed it.
Finally, Jesus breathed on the disciples in what would be a preview of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. In that moment, they got a taste of what it was going to be like to have the power of God in them when the Spirit would come in fullness, and (say it with me) Thomas missed it.
Thomas literally missed the Resurrection. Where was he? Had he gone back to doing what he had done before he met Jesus? Had he run away to try to forget about his own lack of faithfulness to Jesus when Jesus desperately needed the support of his friends? Was he somewhere trying to drown his sorrows? Had he just run out for some fast food, or had he been gone for days? I don’t know, but as I read the Resurrection account again, my heart went out to Thomas because to miss the Resurrection is to miss the one thing that changes everything. Those disciples literally went from no longer having a purpose for living to being commissioned to change the world. Once you experience the Resurrected Christ, you begin to discover why you are here and how God wants to use your life!
Thomas wasn’t taking anyone else’s word for it. He had to see Jesus with his own eyes to believe that the Resurrection was real. Fortunately for Thomas, and for us, Jesus is gracious and desires for each one of us to see and know Him for ourselves, and He presented Himself to Thomas. Verse 26 begins, 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. Stop doubting and believe.” Jesus allowed Thomas to examine him, and upon examination, Thomas said something no other disciple had said to date: 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus wasn’t just the Messiah, the Savior, Jesus was also fully God, and more importantly, Jesus was Thomas’s personal Lord and God. People remember Thomas as a doubter. Doubting Thomas. That’s where the phrase comes from. Sadly, Thomas’s reputation is most often based on one occasion where he expressed doubt rather than the stunning moment when he declared more faith than anyone had up to that time. He isn’t Doubting Thomas at all. He is Declaring Thomas, the first person to embrace Jesus in a comprehensive and personal way. Thomas’s doubt had given way to faith.
There isn’t a lot about Thomas in the Gospels, but upon further research, we learn that Thomas not only wrestled with doubt, but he also asked questions. Not long before the events of Jesus’ suffering began, Jesus spent some time comforting His disciples. He was trying to tell them ahead of time that they didn’t need to be troubled or afraid. He was preparing them for His upcoming departure, and He said to them in John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
It was Thomas who was vulnerable and bold enough to say, “No, we don’t.” We don’t know the way.” He said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” And in response to that honest, yet strategic question, one of the most well-known sentences of the Christian faith was spoken. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
Because of Thomas’s doubts, we have the first full declaration of who Jesus is and because of his question, we have the blueprint for peace with God. Jesus is the way, the only way, to God. That ought to inspire each one of us to ask Jesus to show Himself to us and it ought to encourage us to ask those spiritual questions that lead to a greater understanding of how peace with God and power to obtain His work are received.
Each one of us comes to Jesus in our own way. For Thomas, his questions and his doubts didn’t keep him from Jesus…They led him straight to Him! Don’t give Thomas a bad rap for asking questions and expressing doubts. Applaud him that he sincerely wanted the truth! It’s not always easy to see the unseen. It isn’t always simple to understand the words of Scripture, but Thomas would tell you, I would tell you, many who are here today would tell you, it is always worth it to press to know the truth. Matthew 7:7 says, “Seek and you WILL find.” The sad reality is that many have questions or wrestle with doubt and instead of seeking, they just shift their focus to the things of this world that are discerned through the senses or that require no faith. To experience the Resurrected Christ, you have to be willing to enter into the dimension of faith.
Don’t let your doubt cause you to miss the Resurrection.
Don’t let your questions cause you to miss the Resurrection.
Thomas is singled out in John 20 and 14 because he was willing to put doubt and questions into words. If you are going to be transformed by the Resurrected Christ you are going to have to deal with doubts and questions. Bring them to Jesus.
Jesus isn’t afraid of your doubt or your questions. He welcomes the invitation to come closer and to reveal just who He really is to you. Whatever you do, don’t miss the Resurrection! If you miss the Resurrection, you miss the only event, the only Person who can change everything you face both here and now and for eternity. Encounter the Risen Christ today.