“They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he [Thomas] 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.”” (John 20:25, NLT)
Are you the kind of person who needs evidence and data to make a decision? Maybe you need a word of encouragement to keep going? Some of us need these things more than others, probably. But I think all of us, from time to time, need a shot in the arm.
Think, for a moment, about Jesus’ ministry. There are three times when a voice speaks from heaven: At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (his baptism); in the middle (the Transfiguration); and at the end of his ministry during the final week before his execution (John 12:28). So at three points in Jesus’ three year ministry, the Father speaks encouraging words from heaven…proving the Son’s deity.
Jesus was fully man…I’m sure he experienced moments of discouragement. “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do…” (Hebrews 4:15, NLT) At the right moment(s), God gave Jesus what he needed from heaven.
That’s exactly what happened with Thomas (he’s the topic of this week’s sermon). When the other disciples saw the resurrected Lord and inspected his wounds, Thomas was absent (this is what happens when you skip church!). When he returned later and heard the other disciples’ tale, he was a bit skeptical. He wanted proof.
Eight days later, Jesus appeared again. Without fanfare or rebuke, Jesus gave Thomas the proof he needed.
Oh, I know…the super holy among us will say “just believe!” But many times I’m like the unnamed disciple: “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”” (Mark 9:24, NLT) Sometimes I need a bit of help overcoming my doubt. I think Jesus is glad to give it. Just like he did with Thomas.
That’s my simple point. God wants you to be a successful disciple – so he’ll give you what you need. Thomas had already proved his love and faithfulness to Jesus…Jesus wanted this man to thrive. All Thomas needed was a bit of evidence. So, Jesus gave it. If you need encouragement…if you need evidence, just ask the Lord. If you know someone like this, why don’t you bring them to church on Sunday.