"Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”” (John 20:24–29, ESV)
Today I had the privilege (not my initial reaction) of revisiting this passage, having looked at it a few days ago and then storing my notes to the cloud only to find that when I went back to it that the cloud had dissipated. What I had saved was not saved. I am so thankful that those who Christ saves are fully saved without any chance of our salvation getting lost somewhere in a cloud or by poking a wrong key.
One week later Jesus again appeared to His disciples, and He did it again standing in their midst despite them being behind locked doors. But prior to this reappearance His disciples had found Thomas who was not with them the last time. In the interim that had excitedly told Thomas that they had seen Jesus, the Lord, but it was Thomas’ response that marked him in a unique way in biblical history. It even led to a title for those who do not believe the word of another, being a “doubting Thomas.” When Thomas heard the news from the others he didn’t believe, and he responded with the strong words, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” It is this statement of unbelief that marks him even today.
But Thomas was not alone in this. When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found the stone rolled away she didn’t think, “Wow, He must be risen just like He said.” No, she thought someone had stolen the body. And when the supposed gardener spoke to her she affirmed belief this by asking him where they had laid His body, offering to take it away and tend to it properly. It was not until Jesus spoke her name that Mary recognized Him and believed. Even the other disciple did not fully believe Him to be risen either or if they did they did not expect Him to come to them. In the verses before these we read that they had gathered behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. It was there that Jesus appeared to them and immediately spoke to them telling them twice, “Peace be with you.” This might have become a greeting, but at that moment it also served to calm their hearts. Evidently even they didn’t recognize Him because we read that Jesus showed them His hands and His side so that they might believe. So, when Thomas said that he would not believe unless he saw and touched, I really have to wonder if he was any different than the others to whom Jesus presented His physical wounds in order to prove Himself to them as well.
The difference is that Thomas mouthed the words of disbelief after hearing the testimony of his close friends and fellow disciples. He would not believe what they had to say, demanding proof instead. It was this disbelief that Jesus immediately confronted when He appeared to Thomas saying, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Jesus granted Thomas’ demand so that Thomas might move from disbelief to belief. What followed next was not Thomas doing what he said he would have to do to believe, but his recognition that it was Jesus who was standing before him speaking and offering to prove Himself. Knowing that it was Jesus, Thomas responded, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus then said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Before His crucifixion the Jews constantly followed Him looking for the miraculous signs that He was performing, and yet even seeing them many of them still did not believe. Mary believed Him, but it appears that even she didn’t expect His resurrection nor did she recognize Him until He spoke her name. When appearing to His disciples behind the locked doors on that first day He offered them His hands and His side as proof of his resurrection. And when appearing again to them and to Thomas He offered Thomas the opportunity to place his finger in the holes in His hands and his hand in the hole in His side. For them His revealing Himself to them was enough, and believing they were sent to tell others. Then as we read in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 there would soon be an occasion where He appeared to more than five hundred at one time. Every single one of these persons had the privilege of seeing with their own eyes the resurrected Christ, and their testimony remains for us today.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Oh, how thankful I am for that. I am so blessed to be one of those who did not see the risen Christ but who was shown enough of Him that I was moved to believe. I cannot imagine these disciples doing anything but believing having seen the face of their risen Lord, and I cannot imagine me not believing as the Spirit opened my eyes to see Him through those who reached into my life with this incredibly good news.
We have the record written for us to share to those who need to hear, and we have been called to share it. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”” (Romans 10:14–15, ESV)