[Dec 16]--Thomas, Thomas, Thomas. . .

John 20:24-31

I’ve always felt a little sorry for Thomas. I know that there’s good reason to criticize him: He'd heard multiple predictions from his Lord that Jesus would be betrayed, arrested, handed over to the Romans, crucified, and then rise from the dead. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, the problem was that they had seen their Master do a lot of really amazing things and just couldn’t believe that he could do just one more. He’d raised the dead before, so obviously he had authority over life and death. And add on to all this the fact that his fellow disciples were all—without exception—testifying that he'd appeared to them just one week prior.

But do I think I’d do any better? I have to admit that when I hear stories about modern day miracles—and by “miracles” I mean real miracles, like healing the blind and raising the dead—my first instinct is skepticism. I believe that God performed all the miracles attributed to him in Scripture. I also believe that God still performs miracles today. But I also assert that there’s a quantitative, if not qualitative, difference between the miracles in biblical times and today. The vast majority of people who lived during those recorded events never saw an undisputable miracle. They seem to be concentrated around the time of Moses (and his immediate successor), around the time of Elijah (and also his immediate successor), and our Lord Jesus (ditto). Again, I believe that God does perform miracles today, but the vast majority of the time he works “behind the scenes,” not in a direct, unambiguous way. So without him working within me, I’d likely be just as skeptical.

But the Lord graciously decided to show up in front of his disciples, and this time Thomas happened to be there. Thomas had said that he wouldn’t believe until he saw the nail prints and put his finger into the scar on his side, and Jesus accommodated him. It’s not recorded whether or not he actually put his finger on the scar, but I kind of doubt it.

Just a little side note here? When Jesus appeared to him, Thomas called him “My Lord and my God,” and Jesus never corrected him. That’s because it’s true. People who assert that Jesus never claimed to be divine must really hate the Gospel of John, because that’s something the Apostle loved to emphasize repeatedly.

And did you catch the blessing placed upon us? Thomas had to see the resurrected Lord standing right in front of him in order to believe. I don’t. Of course, I contend that the Holy Spirit has to open our hearts; otherwise we’d never believe in Christ. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Lord Jesus places a blessing on us that Thomas missed out on.

Then we come to the stated purpose. John is the only author in the Bible who actually tells us why he’s writing to us. The slightly ironic thing is that this is the only one of the four Gospels which is explicitly written with an evangelistic purpose. He wrote “this book” so that we’d believe that Jesus is both Messiah and Son of God, and that by believing we’d have life in his name. Please don’t get me wrong. I love the other three Gospels. They’re greatly precious to me. And you can find statements in the other Gospels which you can use to share the Good News of Jesus with someone. But when I want to introduce a nonbeliever to the real Jesus (as opposed to our misrepresentations of him), I usually send them straight to John’s Gospel.

But let’s not miss out on the part that applies to us as believers, right here and now. John said he wrote these things so that we’d believe in Christ, but also that by believing we’d have life in his name. That’s not just referring to the eternal life we receive at the 1st moment of salvation. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, we receive life from him, just like a vine nourishes its branches. He's our life, and we’d best not forget that.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your blessing on me as my High Priest. You're my life, and I claim no other. I’d be foolish to look for any other.

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