The disciples saw Jesus after he resurrected from the dead. In the John 20:24, we could see that Jesus appeared to them and they believed. After their encounter, they told it to Thomas (Didymus) who were not with them. He doubted saying that if he could put his finger on Jesus’ hands and side, he would believe. Amazingly, Jesus appeared to him and asked him to put his fingers to his body – just to make sure that what he was seeing was real. After that, Thomas recognized that it was the glorified, resurrected Jesus.
People often referred to him as the doubting Thomas but if we are going to look at the events, in the previous verses, the disciples already saw Jesus face to face. For them, there’s not much to doubt about it. Thomas did not see Jesus and for him, putting his hands on Jesus means a lot of thing!
What does it mean? The desire of Thomas to touch Jesus’s wounds is not just to ease his doubt or unbelief, I think, it is more than that. It could mean that he would want to touch or feel where it hurts most. How would it feel like to suffer? Thomas was looking at the glorified, powerful, resurrected Christ – the One that suffered was showing to him, he was the Messiah! Maybe Thomas was stunned or speechless, he cannot imagine how horrible it was to carry the sin of the world – the sin of the past and present, afflicted in every way, beaten and humiliated. The Christ who once suffered was standing before him, now victorious. Thomas’ act of putting his hands to Jesus’ scars represents the communion that we should have with Christ’s suffering. To touch, to feel and to share with the reality of Christ’s sacrifice for the whole world would literally humble us. And as soon as we relate with Christ suffering that we can celebrate with His victory. That itself would bring us to worship.
Finally, it is finished!
Now, we have to believe! Jesus said “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” In our life, we believe in the suffering and victory of Jesus. I remember a student once asked me, “If Jesus is who you say he is, he is loving and kind, why won’t he show up?” I pondered on the question for a while, then I said, “If you see Jesus walking around, what are you gonna do? He replied, “nothing.” I answered, “Then there’s no reason for him to show up?” People deny Jesus or they do not believe because they fear that if they believe, it will mean they have to do something. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Only those who believe obey, only those who obey believe.”
Going back to my friend, Thomas. His chance encounter with the glorified Christ changed his world and his ministry. I hardly imagine that the doubting Thomas would be very convinced that he would travel across Asia to preach Jesus whom he once doubted even if it would mean his death. Now, the doubting Thomas becomes the believing, obedient Thomas.
What area of your life do you find it hard to believe in Christ?
Jesus Appears to Thomas – John 20:24-30