The disciple Thomas gets a bad rap. For the rest of time now, we invoke his name when we refer to someone who doubts by labeling them a “doubting Thomas”. As you recall, Thomas was not present the first time Jesus appeared to the other disciples after they witnessed His death and burial. When the others told him they had seen the Lord, Thomas famously replied he would not believe it unless he saw the nail wounds in Jesus’ hands and placed his finger in them. So when Jesus appeared to them all the second time, Thomas exclaimed “my Lord and my God!” He believed only because he saw for himself. But would it have been any different had it happened to any of the other disciples? Knowing that Peter denied Jesus three different times, I don’t think it would be a stretch to think, had he not been present the first time Jesus appeared to them, we might now be saying “doubting Peter” as well. And the same could be true for them all. The fact is we all face and fight doubt. I believe that is why this story is in the Bible. God knows humanity and faith doesn’t come naturally to us, as least not to adults. Children are naive and innocent. But unfortunately life has a way of teaching them to mistrust. Our faith needs to be exercised just like our muscles if we want it to grow stronger. Every instance where we don’t see is an opportunity to exercise (strengthen) our faith. For Thomas, faith was not a factor because his eyes told him what was real. When you are looking at, holding, touching or tangibly possessing that which you believe for, faith isn’t required. Jesus said blessed are those who believe without seeing. The proof is not in the seeing or the touching. Our faith IS our proof. Our faith is the reality of what we are hoping for and what we don’t yet realize. With faith, that thing we don’t yet see is just as real to us as if we were holding it in our hand. And when that thing is manifested, our faith grows stronger for the next opportunity to exercise it. Let us strive to reach that blessed place of believing without having to see, because if we see it, it’s not faith at all.
John 20:25-29 (NLT)
25 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.” 26 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. 27 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!” 28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. 29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”