By Sara Chance
I always thought of Thomas as cynical. “Unless I see this and do this, I will not believe that Jesus is alive”—even after his close friends are telling him, “Hey, look, we saw him!” (Paraphrasing from John 20:24-25)
But we don’t really know what he was thinking, do we?
What if Thomas was afraid to hope for something as wonderful as a risen Lord?
What if he was afraid of how he’d deal with the disappointment of finding out it wasn’t true, so he decided not to let himself believe it in the first place? Ever felt like that?
So that’s part one of Thomas’ story in this passage. Part two is one week later, when Jesus shows up—”…though the doors were locked, Jesus came…” (John 20: 26-29, NIV)
Some observations on this part of the passage:
1) It was a whole week later. Thomas had to wait. Was he asking God to show him if it was true that week? Was he up and down, with maybe a little hope and then none at all? And why did Jesus make him wait a whole week? Could it have been a chance for him to believe without seeing it?
2) Why did Jesus wait until the doors were locked? Don’t you just know that was on purpose? I’m imagining Jesus thinking, “On top of everything else, Thomas, I’m coming through a locked door to show you I’m alive!” It’s kind of funny when you think about it.
3) When Jesus talked to Thomas, he addressed every single part of Thomas’ questions and doubts. He wasn’t there physically when Thomas expressed his “demands” earlier in the week, but clearly Jesus heard them all, and what’s more, He satisfied them ALL with patience.
Here are Thomas’ earlier-in-the-week statements, matched with what Jesus told him when he came through that locked door:
Thomas: “I need to see the nail marks in his hand”
Jesus: “See my hands”
Thomas: “I need to put my finger where the nails were”
Jesus: “Put your finger here”
Thomas: “I need to put my hand into his side”
Jesus: “Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and BELIEVE.” (emphasis mine)
Thomas: “My Lord and my God!”
What patience and compassion Jesus had for Thomas and has for us, even when we are asking some big questions. Even when we won’t let ourselves believe in His goodness for fear of disappointment. Even when we’ve been asked to wait, and we falter into faithlessness.
2 Timothy 2:13 tells us, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
He hears every bit of our doubt, all our questions and will patiently address them all with love and compassion for His children. If we are covered with the blood of Jesus, we are a part of Him, as the verse above shows us. He is safe to trust (something Ann Voskamp repeats over and over on her website). He is exactly where our hope should be.
We all have locked doors we are waiting for Jesus to burst through for us. It can be so hard to hold on in faith and be assured that He hears and loves us, to believe that He will not withhold any compassion or blessing from us. But we have this promise from Jesus to hold on to from John 20:29: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Our faith is precious to Him.