May 5, 2011
“Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!””
The Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus
“My Lord and My God!”
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Yesterday we read about doubts in the whole group. We saw how Jesus removed doubts, by changing the thinking of His disciples. Jesus always knows just how to remove your doubts, when you trust Him and believe His words. Today we will consider the case of “Doubting Thomas” and see just how Jesus cures a very famous doubter of his doubts. Maybe you still have some doubts today too.
Thomas Was Not There. In this case, not being with the other disciples will have a huge impact upon Thomas, one of the original twelve disciples. Jesus had just appeared to the eleven disciples, as they talked with the travelers from the Emmaus Road who had met the resurrected Jesus. Now, Thomas arrives to hear their stories. In John 20:24, we read about how Jesus deals with unbelief. The women at the tomb saw Jesus directly and told the disciples. Peter apparently saw the resurrected Jesus. The two travelers had heard the story of the resurrection, had doubts, and travelled with the resurrected Jesus. They immediately came and told the assembled disciples of their encounter with Jesus. While they were speaking, Jesus appeared in their midst. You see that the witness list of the resurrection increases here rapidly, and each witness has something new to contribute. They did not all see Jesus at the same time. At this point, we have testimony of various encounters, and many witnesses. Yet, with all this evidence and testimony of Jesus being alive and resurrected, Thomas doubts. Notice that everyone had doubts before him, but Thomas disbelieved the most testimony for the largest number of witnesses.
We Have Seen the Lord! Sometimes, no matter how many people tell you something that should cause you to believe, you simply will not believe. In this case, the testimony of his closest associates, who had been with Jesus for years, did nothing to persuade Thomas (John 20:25). We can all understand the stubborn doubts lodged in the mind of Thomas. He was not easily convinced of supernatural facts. He doubted these witnesses and, more seriously, he doubted that Jesus had been resurrected. Jesus knows how to deal with all doubts. In this case, however, Thomas had his own test for believing.
Unless I See. In John 20:25, Thomas said only his personal experience could lead him to faith. He insisted that he must see the imprint of the nails in Jesus’ hands, and put his finger in the place of the nails, and put his hand into the side of Jesus, he would not believe. Thomas had a test for resurrection, and was completely consumed by his doubts. Thomas chose to ignore all other evidence, and demand from God absolute proof which would satisfy him. Jesus does not always deal with doubts in the same way, but God has furnished proof to all men of the coming judgment of God through Jesus Christ, by raising Jesus Christ from the dead (Acts 17:31). In Thomas, we have the most severe and sinful skeptic. Severe in doubts (he ignored the testimony of all the other witnesses and the prophecies of Jesus Himself, plus the testimony of the entire Bible concerning Christ), and sinful because he refused to believe as a conscious choice. Every person with doubts has made a choice to ignore the evidence presented by God. Doubts arise, as we saw yesterday, from a problem with our thinking, that causes both fears and doubts to arise (Luke 24:36-38). Let the doubting words of Doubting Thomas teach you about unbelief today: “I will not believe.” Every doubter sets his own conditions about belief, instead of accepting the overwhelming testimony and evidence God has presented that should cause us to believe. Ask your doubting self a simple question: “Has God provided evidence that I am choosing to ignore?” God gives us friends who testify to us, and the Bible that reveals God, and yet we still doubt all the evidence. God gives us evidence to remove our doubts. But on another level, our doubts also relate to our distance from Jesus. When we are not there with other believers, we tend to doubt more. We become selfish in our thinking, and discount the testimony of our spiritual friends who tell us of God’s activity in their lives. We tend to disbelieve the great promises and truths of God’s word. But most seriously, we lose touch with Jesus, who speaks to us every day and seeks our friendship with Him constantly.
Jesus Came. In John 20:26, Jesus came again after eight days to the disciples and stood in their midst, while they were inside. Notice the precise facts on the chronology here: “eight days.” God wants the details to matter, so that we can see that God left Thomas to struggle with doubts, and hear his friends talk about Jesus, for eight days. When He appeared, Jesus again bid them the familiar “Peace be with you.” Then He started talking to Doubting Thomas. Notice carefully the words of Jesus. Though you may not see Him with your eyes, it certainly does not mean Jesus does not see you and hear every word you speak and every doubt you possess. Jesus said to Thomas: “Reach here with your finger and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27). Jesus deliberately mentions the very proof Thomas demanded, and offered it to him. Jesus not only cares how we feel, but more importantly, He always cares what we believe about Him. Jesus will open the door of salvation for you if you will open your heart, repent of your sins, and ask Jesus to forgive you because He died on the cross for yours sins. If you believe in Him, and that He was raised from the dead, then He forgave you and He lives in you. You can say with Thomas, “My Lord and My God!”
My Lord and My God! The Bible does not record that Thomas actually put his fingers or hands upon Jesus, because the presence of Jesus standing right in front of him absolutely convinced him. You can see that his demands to touch Jesus disappeared when Jesus drew near Thomas. All of our own doubts and fears vanish in the presence of Jesus. Thomas answered and said: “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28). When you draw near to Jesus, He will always deal with your doubts. Your doubts come from your faulty thinking, and your faith always comes from God and resides in its proper target, God. When you start listening to Jesus confronting your doubts and providing His proof, then your doubts will leave. When you demand from God your own forms of proof, then your doubts will remain, except by the grace of God. He offers a blessing to everyone who believes without seeing Him with their eyes. Jesus said to Thomas: “Because you have seen, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” You and I as believers who have never seen Jesus have this special blessing from Jesus.
So we learn more about the Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus.
● Jesus takes the time to remove the doubts of Thomas by offering personal and powerful proof. Jesus commanded Thomas to believe and leave his doubts behind.
● Jesus offers a special blessing to everyone who believes, without seeing. We have great evidence for His resurrection and He carefully presented His proof to remove all of our fears and doubts.
● After resurrection, Jesus comforted His disciples, convinced them He was alive, commissioned them to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, overcame their doubts, and promised them the Holy Spirit would empower them. Jesus drew near the disciples, and He draws near to us today.
Application for Today
Today I want to hear Jesus telling me, “Do not doubt, but believe.” I want to enjoy His close presence and His blessing because I have believed without seeing. I know that Jesus will deal with the doubts of every person who believes that Jesus will remove those doubts. Jesus loves to remove doubts, and abide in you. After Jesus saves you from your sins, you may still have some doubts. But remember, Jesus will never leave you or forsake you, even if you doubt. He wants to boost your faith daily, driving out doubts, and drawing your near to Him, every day. The words from the heart that leave doubts behind remain powerful: “My Lord and My God!” When we make declarations of the Lordship and divinity of Christ in our life, and look again at the Lord Jesus, our doubts depart. Will you feel the special blessing of Jesus in your life today, because you believe, but have not yet seen Him? Will you say to Jesus with me “My Lord and My God!” today?