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The One Who “Sees” Jesus First – A Reflection on Thomas (Part 2)

April 21, 2012

The second reason I love the passage about Thomas in John 20:19-31 comes from the conclusion of the story. We usually refer to Thomas as “doubting Thomas” – but really, we should change this. We should call him “believing Thomas” or “confessing Thomas,” because the single greatest confession of faith in Jesus in the entire New Testament comes not from Peter, not John, or Paul – it comes from Thomas!

In John 1, it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … The Word] came to his own, but his own did not receive him. They didn’t recognise him.” Now in chapter 20 of John’s Gospel, we reach the climax (chapter 21 is really an epilogue). Finally someone realizes who Jesus really is – and the person who reaches the finish line first is Thomas: “My Lord and my God!” he exclaims to Jesus.

So the message of this passage is not: “Thomas is included, too, although he was a bit slower than the rest. He had to limp along behind the others, but Jesus loved him and made sure he wasn’t left out.” Rather: the one who doubts the most deeply comes to believe the most deeply! The one who hadn’t seen Jesus when the others did, is the first to see him as he really is!

I see this as a pattern for our lives. Galileo said: “Doubt is the father of discovery.” God is big enough to handle our doubts and fears – without crumbling into nothingness!

Jesus says in verse 29 “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” and then John adds in verse 31 that he wrote his Gospel, “so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

This Beatitude is for all of us!

Thomas no different from the other apostles – they didn’t believe till they saw, either. But what he really needed was to encounter Jesus, not merely physically see him. He needed to meet his Risen Lord heart-to-heart. And this is what we need, too. We need to “see” Jesus with the eyes of our heart, and when we do, we too shall fall down before him in adoration as our Lord and our God. We need his Presence. Only this will do. We are blessed because he is with us always.

Thomas G. Long, writes:

Indeed, John’s gospel gives us a snapshot of a church with nothing – no plan, no promise, no program, no perky youth ministry, no powerful preaching, no parking lot, nothing. In fact, when all is said and done, this terrified little band huddled in the corner of a room with a chair braced against the door has only one thing going for it: the risen Christ. And that seems to be the main point of this story. In the final analysis, this is a story about how the risen Christ pushed open the bolted door of a church with nothing, how the risen Christ enters the fearful chambers of every heart and fills them with his own life.

In the midst of a church that can claim nothing for itself, a church of noise, confusion, weariness, and even fear, the risen Christ comes to give peace. The peace of Christ be with you? Because the risen Christ comes to inhabit our empty places, and the church with nothing becomes the church with everything.

Or, as a bumper sticker might say: “You are [our Lord and our God], therefore I am.”

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