The Greatest Play Ever Written (4)
After three posts on nondescript Bible characters, let's shine the spotlight on one major player: Thomas.
A very compelling scene in the New Testament was when Jesus, after his crucifixion, appeared alive and glorified to His disciples to comfort them and proclaim to them the good news of His victory over death. (John 20:19-29)
Thomas was not there. After being told by the others about Jesus' resurrection and personal visit, Thomas doubted. He wanted physical proof of the risen Lord for him to believe!
This scene is re-enacted every day among non-believers. The list of celebrity atheists, for instance, is long. The list grows exponentially if we include the elite intelligentsia and the scientists, who probe or conduct experiments to validate hypotheses. They vehemently deny the existence of God because they have not seen Him.
To see is to believe.
So many doubting Thomases walk this earth, it is alarming. What's equally alarming is that Christians suffer doubt, too, sometimes. Here's where Thomas serves as our mirror. He provides both instruction and encouragement.
Thomas experienced doubt in the face of the heartbreaking loss of the One he loved. His faith weakened.
When we face a massive loss or a crisis (heartbreak, life-threatening disease, death of someone dear to us, and grief), and our faith weakens, too, may we be comforted with the thought that Christ knows what we are going through.
Jesus did not have to prove anything, nor was obligated to Thomas. After all, they had spent three years working together. Thomas saw with his own eyes all of His miracles; he heard with his own ears Jesus' prophecies about His death and resurrection. Furthermore, Thomas received the news from the other disciples about Jesus' return. These should have been enough proofs.
But no. He had to see to believe.
Why did Jesus accommodate Thomas? He knew his weakness, just as He knows our human frailty.
Once Thomas saw the scars, he proclaimed in faith, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28). Jesus commended him for his faith, although that faith was based on sight.
Jesus further encourages us in John 20:29, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." He meant that in His physical absence, He would send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who would live within believers from then on, enabling us to believe that which we do not see with our eyes.
So how do we keep from doubting as Thomas did? “Pray and read,” our pastor stressed in his message one Sunday. "Times of doubt will become less frequent if we talk to God in prayer and feed our faith with His Word."
The cast of characters in the Bible is, no doubt whatsoever, a cast of grace.
Note: This is the fourth in a series of eight posts on “The Greatest Play Ever Written.”