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John 21:24-29 – One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”
Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
Thomas sometimes gets a raw deal among Christians. He has become the poster-boy for doubt. We literally refer to a person who struggles to believe something as a “Doubting Thomas". It’s no wonder Jesus admonishes a person like that… right?
As I read these verses, I can’t help but feel that we often miss the heart of this scene. Right off the bat, it is significant that Thomas is even there! ALL of the Disciples scattered after Jesus’ arrest, and for understandable reasons. How would I react if the person I had followed for three years; the One I had left everything for; the One I believed to be the long-awaited Messiah, was crucified and died at the hands of the government. That would be tough to reconcile.
Still, Thomas is here, and his skepticism is understandable. These men are asking him to believe the impossible. They are asking him to put his heart on the line, and he hesitates. I can’t be too tough on him for that.
The part of the story that makes my heart sing is how Jesus responds to Thomas. “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side!” Jesus meets Thomas right where he is. Instead of rebuking Thomas’ skepticism, Jesus patiently answers his questions.
As a Christ-follower, this is a model for me as I represent Jesus in my world. I’m called to answer doubt with compassion; to meet skepticism with patience and understanding. I’m called to meet people exactly where they are. After all, I was once at the same place. I’m a beggar telling other beggars where I found bread. God has patiently brought me closer to Christ, and I want to help others encounter Him, too.