Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Thomas, born a Jew in Galilee, was a disciple. He was willing to follow Jesus even under the threat of death. After Jesus had ascended, Thomas traveled spreading the Gospel and ended up in India, where he was martyred. We can’t glean a great understanding about his past and the disposition of his heart that led him to his famous moment of doubt. But I can understand if the death of Jesus threw him a little and affected whether he trusted Jesus.
After he self-resurrected, Jesus started appearing to his disciples and followers. Word got back to Thomas, and he famously said “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.”
Thomas was angry, heartbroken, shattered… He had great expectations and was now facing not just the death of his mentor, but the dreams and hopes Jesus had awakened within him. It astounds me that we can assume we would have been different at that moment. is a picture of Thomas’s raw humanity – one I think many of us can relate to.
Jesus faithfulness knocks me off my feet – when he appeared in the house the disciples had gathered in, Thomas would have seen his wounds and the proof he needed… But Jesus didn’t leave without giving Thomas the opportunity to feel his hands, touch his side and get intimately acquainted with his sacrifice. God was answering Thomas’s cries and showing himself faithful. Perhaps this moment was his awakening, the catalyst for life-long faith. And though Thomas was offered this opportunity, we’re never told that he actually touched Jesus’ wounds. The Word alone was enough for him, too, to respond in faith, “My Lord and my God”!
Many people need proof before they can believe in anything. But Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Are we more blessed because we haven’t seen Jesus in the flesh and we believe?
Not being blinded by hurt and negativity – that’s a blessing. Not being guarded because of abuse and neglect – that’s a blessing. Maintaining child-like faith in a world growing ever cynical and suspect – that’s a blessing. I think that’s what we can learn here. Don’t harden your heart or bury your dreams when things change course, keep them alive and soft with faith. And if you ever find yourself doubting, don’t stay quiet. Ask your questions, seek Jesus… He is faithful always and through everything.
I encourage you this week to really meditate on the fact that Jesus is alive. Trusting this will change your life in big and small ways.
O risen Lord, you came to your disciples and took away their fears with your word of peace. Come to us also by your Word and sacrament, and banish our fears with the comforting assurance of your abiding presence. Amen.