THOMAS HAS A LOT of conditions to belief. This may make him relatable to you. He wants hard evidence. He wants to be an eyewitness to the fact that Jesus is risen.
For this, he gets labeled as doubting. Was Thomas the only person to doubt Jesus’ resurrection? Of course not. In fact, everyone doubted it!
He is only asking to see what all the other disciples have already seen. I can’t blame Thomas. He’s more like me (and perhaps you) than we want to admit.
So, what happens?
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EIGHT DAYS AFTER Thomas stands his ground, his wish comes true. Jesus appears and speaks directly to Thomas.
We don’t know if Thomas ever touched the wounds. What do you think? Did Thomas still want to see and touch the nail prints? Did Thomas still want to thrust his hand into Jesus’ side? What we know is that once Thomas looks at and feels the presence of the risen Lord, the only thing he can spit out is:
“My Lord and my God.”
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YOU KNOW WHAT Jesus says to Thomas?
“Have you believed because you have seen me?” Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Jesus is, of course, talking to us. John invites us to face our doubts, speak our fears, and yearn for more — more intimacy, more encounter, more experience of the living, breathing Christ.
THOMAS SAYS what we’re too timid or afraid or embarrassed to say. “I need to become a witness in my own right. I need my own story of radical encounter. I want Jesus’s resurrection — if it’s real at all — to become real for me.”
How many of us go our entire lives without ever yearning as boldly as Thomas does?
What Thomas desires is holy and beautiful — a living encounter with Jesus. A man who won’t settle for someone else’s experience of resurrection but sticks around in the hope of having his own. A man who dares to confess uncertainty while surrounded by those who were certain. A man who recognizes his Lord in scars, not wonders.
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WHAT I ADMIRE about Thomas is that he raises his concerns, his expectations, his conditions publicly — without shame or guilt. And I admire that his faith community allowed him to do so. And I love Jesus’s response. Jesus meets Thomas right where he is.
Jesus freely offers Thomas the testimony of his own scars, his own pain. After such an encounter, I can only imagine the tenderness and urgency with which Thomas repeats Christ’s words to other doubters:
“Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.”
Isn’t this us? We wrestle with hidden doubts. We live with hidden fears. Don’t we all wonder sometimes if the miracle of resurrection will hold up beyond Easter and into ordinary life?
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THOMAS’S STORY reminds me that resurrection is hard. It was hard from the get-go, and it is still hard. Hard to accept. It is hard to apply to our lives — especially when our lives are marked by pain, loss, uncertainty, futility, and death.
If nothing else, Thomas reassures us that faith does not have to be straightforward; the business of accepting the resurrection, of living it out, of sharing it with the world, is tough.
It’s OK to waver. It’s okay to take our time. It’s OK to hope for more.
John’s purpose for writing is:
“So that you may come to believe.”
John chose an encounter between doubts and scars to help us come to believe.