Daily Devotion - Tuesday, April 4, 2016
Imagine that being the name you were given for time immemorial.
When I was a kid I remember being taught a Sunday school lesson about Doubting Thomas from John 20:24-29. Thomas was one of Jesus' disciples. After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to all of the other disciples, but because Thomas wasn't with them at the time, he missed it.
So Thomas told everyone, "Unless I see and touch the wounds from nails in his hands and feet and put my hand in the wound in his side--I will not believe." Of course, Jesus appears to all of the disciples a bit later, including Thomas, and calls out the doubting disciple, who finally believes.
It's the simplistic interpretation of this story that resulted in poor Thomas being given his ignominious nickname: Thomas doubted because he hadn't seen the risen Jesus. He shouldn't have done that. Neither should you. Don't be a Doubting Thomas.
But is it really that simple? I don't think so.
Put yourself in Thomas' shoes. Jesus appeared to everyone else, except him. This was the same guy that in another passage of Scripture encouraged his fellow disciples to follow Jesus to Jerusalem even though it might mean their death. "Let us go to Jerusalem," he said to them, "so that we may die with him."
Thomas was a true believer then. He was willing to give his life for Jesus. And then when the risen Jesus appeared to everyone else but Thomas, it shook him. I don't think Thomas doubted that Jesus was raised from the dead. I think he doubted that Jesus still cared about him.
I have so much in common with Thomas. There have been times in my life when I felt so close to Jesus, so eager to follow him, to do whatever it took to be his disciple. And then there are moments when times get tough, and it feels like Jesus is no where to be found.
But I will still I see other Christians getting blessed, showered with joy, filled with purpose and happiness, and I wonder... Does he still care about me? What did I do wrong?
Thomas had a moment with the risen Christ on the other side of his doubt and his fear of abandonment. He stood in front of him, confronting the evidence, feeling his presence, taking in the love... and he proclaimed like none of the other disciples had, "My Lord and my God!"
This is the only time that these words appear in John's Gospel--and Doubting Thomas was given the honor of speaking them.
Beloved, if you feel as though your faith in Jesus has grown thin... If you look out and see other people feeling the kind of joy and fulfillment as Jesus-followers that you long to feel... If you wonder if Jesus still cares, still loves, still longs for you... Then wonder no longer, doubt no more, do not be afraid. He is near.
May you feel the presence of the risen Christ in your life in mighty and incredible ways. May you be confronted by his love, his care for you. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.