What Can I Learn from The Story of Thomas? – John 20

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On Sunday we started a new series called “Ordinary People.” When you look at the disciples, it is clear that despite all their faults and failures, Jesus entrusted ordinary people with His work. This means that it does not matter who you are or where you came from, what you look like, your background, or how broken, hurt, or messed up your past has been. God can use you and me! Today we will look at Thomas and three words that describe his reaction to the resurrection.

Doubt
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples, but John 20:24 tells us that Thomas was not with them. “So the other disciples were telling him, ‘We’ve seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘If I don’t see the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe’ (v. 25). Even if you did not grow up in church you have heard of “Doubting Thomas.” He doubted the resurrection and is the poster boy of pessimism and skepticism. However, Thomas really was a true believer and a man of courage and faith (see his reaction in Jn. 11:16). He was also a man of faith and reason (see his question in Jn. 14:5). You can imagine his feelings when the disciples were telling him that they’d seen the Lord. He had left all to follow Jesus. When He died, you know he felt betrayed, hurt, and forsaken. Then, he had to question, “Why was I not with them when He appeared?” Thomas is called a twin. We aren’t told if he had a twin brother or sister, or who it was, but so many times it feels like it’s us. We all have doubts and questions. Thomas was not the first doubter in Scripture, and we are surrounded by doubters today. When you have questions, let them draw you closer to God, not keep you away from God. Use them as an opportunity for God to show up in your situation. Jesus did not rebuke Thomas. He is ok with people who want to be sure. Some of the sharpest minds and greatest saints in history had questions. Bring your doubts to Jesus and trust Him. He will answer them with evidence that demands a verdict.

Discernment
“A week later [Jesus’] disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe’” (v. 26-27). Thomas gets a bad rap. Wouldn’t you hate messing up one time and being labeled for it? They did not call Peter, “Denying Peter!” I heard my mentor Dr. Sam Cathey say years ago, “What if it was not doubt? What if we get to heaven and find out it was discernment?” Jesus had warned the disciples about being deceived (Mt. 24:4-5, 23-26; Mk. 13:5; Lk. 21:8). Today we know that everything going on in the name of Jesus is not of Jesus! First John 4:1 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” First Thessalonians 5:21 says, “But test everything; hold fast what is good.” Don’t believe everything you hear. Don’t just trust yourself. Jesus was not angry with Thomas. He understood Him. Without anyone telling Him, He knew what Thomas needed. Jesus can handle your questions. There is a thin line between discernment and unbelief so take your questions to Him!

Decision
“Thomas responded to [Jesus], ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’” (v. 28-29). Deep down you know there is a God. You know this did not all happen by chance. When Thomas saw the wounds, he knew Jesus died for him. When he said, “My Lord,” he was saying my life is in His hands. When he said, “My God,” he was saying He’s got the whole world in His hands. It’s a statement of Lordship and Deity. There is no record that Thomas accepted the Lord’s invitation to touch Him, but he obeyed His invitation to believe. A lot of people believe that Jesus was a historical figure. They believe He died on a cross and was buried. They may even believe He rose from the dead. But the demons believe and tremble (Ja. 2:19). It has to be personal to you. John 20:31 says, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Jesus died for you. He rose for you. Blessed are those who have not seen. That’s us!

If you have doubts today, take them to Jesus and let Him answer your questions. When you board an airplane, you can’t stand on the boarding ramp all day with one foot in the plane and one foot out. Sooner or later the door of the plane is going to close and the plane is going to take off. You are either on the plane or you missed your flight. The writer of Hebrews said, “It is appointed unto man once to die and then comes judgment.” Trust Jesus with your doubts while you have the opportunity.

Thomas became a believer and a missionary. He took the Gospel to India. The one who wanted to see where the spear pierced Jesus’ side was killed for his faith the same way. When he would not deny his faith in the risen Lord Jesus, they thrust a spear through his body. God used Thomas in amazing ways and He can use you too!

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