JESUS CALLS US BLESSED FOR BELIEVING WITH THE EYES OF FAITH
“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” — 1 Peter 1:8
Jesus calls us blessed because we believe. We believe without seeing. We have faith in our glorious Savior and the freedom we have in Him. His perfect love for us is the cornerstone of our faith. He wants us to believe and not doubt.
There was one follower of Jesus who doubted. Thomas, one of Jesus’ original twelve apostles, loved the Lord and was devoted to Him. Although all the apostles at some point doubted Jesus’ ultimate purpose and plan for salvation, Thomas is best known as “The Doubter”. Let’s take a closer look at his life to see if he deserves this legacy.
We first meet Thomas when Jesus is preparing to leave for the home of Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha. The apostles fear for Jesus’ life in returning to the region of Judea where the Jews recently attempted to stone Him. Jesus is not afraid nor is He dissuaded. He explains to the twelve that the recent death of Lazarus will result in the glory of God. Jesus knows that the miracle He plans to do, raising Lazarus to life, will glorify the Father and deepen the apostles’ faith in Him.
Thomas bravely steps forward and says, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (John 11:16) This does not sound like Doubting Thomas. This is a declaration of one who is willing to risk his life for his Lord. The rest of the apostles are encouraged, and accompany Jesus to witness perhaps one of the greatest miracles of His ministry.
We next encounter Thomas as Jesus is comforting the twelve as to His impending death and resurrection. Jesus explains that He will not be with them much longer. “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” (John 13:36) He gives them a new command — to love one another as He has loved them. In this way, everyone will know that they are His disciples.
Jesus continues to reassure the apostles, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:3-4)
Thomas questions Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where You are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5) A valid question, considering the news that they had just received from Him.
Thomas, with this question, seeks from his Teacher maybe the most important answer he could receive. Jesus responds with the profound verse where He explains His divine purpose. “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
We next read of Thomas after the resurrection of Jesus. The apostles tell Thomas of the glorious appearing of their Lord and their joy at seeing Him again. We are not told why this apostle was not present at the amazing encounter with the risen Jesus. He perhaps was wrestling with the loss of the One he had followed so devotedly. So when Thomas hears that Jesus is alive, he pragmatically states, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)
The glorified Jesus appears again to all the apostles, greeting them with, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:26) Turning to Thomas, He says, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:27)
Thomas declares in amazement, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) Thomas, in that moment, overcomes his doubt and believes. His declaration is a revelation of the divinity of Christ that can only come by the Spirit of God. Perhaps we should not hold Thomas’ doubt against him as a legacy of his life. He chooses to move from unbelief to belief at the sight of the risen Lord.
Jesus responds, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
Jesus is here commending Thomas for his renewed belief. Thomas does not abandon himself to doubt. He seeks to believe. He does not allow his doubts to hinder his pursuit of the Truth.
In reflecting upon the life of Thomas, his legacy might better be that of courageous follower of Jesus, knowledge seeker, proclaimer of the Truth. His revelation of Jesus as the true Messiah overshadows all doubt.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” — Hebrews 11:1
Through the encounter Thomas has with his risen Lord, we learn that we are blessed by Jesus for believing in Him. We believe without seeing, for faith sees with the heart. Faith trusts the One who loves us and has given His life for us. Let us then, like Thomas, bravely follow Christ where He leads. Let us cast off all doubt and seek the Truth. Let our lives proclaim that Jesus is our Lord and our God!