“Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “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 20:24-25
Everyone has faith. When it is said that someone doesn’t have faith, it is usually a lack of faith in a particular person or thing. It is not that such persons are deficient in the capacity to believe; they actually believe in some other things. What they lack is a belief in the person, idea or thing in question.
Thomas, because he refused to believe that Christ had arisen from the dead, is commonly referred to as ‘Doubting Thomas’. In fact, that has become an idiom that is used to describe anyone who doubts. Thomas had been one of the twelve disciples of Jesus for a few years. He left everything he did previously and now went about with this itinerant preacher, Jesus Christ. He witnessed many miracles Christ performed. When Lazarus died, Thomas was with the Lord. When Jesus said to go and wake Lazarus up from his sleep, it was Thomas who said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). Of course they didn’t die; Lazarus was resurrected. Thomas was there and watched Jesus show his power over death by merely calling back to life the dead man, who had by then been buried for four days. Thomas had heard the Lord speak several times about his death and subsequent resurrection. That was why he came: to die and resurrect and by his death pay the price for our salvation. The brothers who told Thomas that they had seen the risen Christ were disciples like him; men who had left everything, followed Christ and had gone out on evangelistic outreaches with Thomas. Yet, when these same believable brethren told him what he had heard Christ speak about, Thomas didn’t believe them. Remember that at this point the risen Lord had already appeared to Mary Magdalene and she had, on Christ’s instruction, reported to the disciples her encounter with the Lord. This brother still did not believe!
Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. It is assumed that all professing Christians are people of faith; they believe absolutely in the Lord Jesus and his word, the Bible. Isn’t it strange therefore, that a believer of Thomas’ credentials would doubt the word of Christ and his fellow disciples? He generally would be assumed to be a person of faith, yet he disbelieved one of the cardinal events of his faith namely the resurrection. At least on this point, he was a Sadducee (A Jew who rejected among other things, the doctrine of resurrection).
Before you think that is a peculiar problem with Thomas, you might only need to look inward to find similar traits. You believe in Jesus? Great. Do you believe his word and his promises absolutely? Are there some promises that he has made that you have doubts over? When he promises to meet all your needs according to his riches in glory, do you believe that completely? In the moment of need, have you questioned the authenticity or reliability of that promise? Have your actions betrayed or confirmed your faith in his promises. The term ‘faith-less faith’ may be oxymoronic but doesn’t it describe many of our attitudes? We claim to have faith in Christ yet we still don’t believe him when he speaks. Like Thomas, you may also have followed and even preached Christ for years, yet when push comes to shove you have wavered in unbelief.
Faith in Your Own Devices
If Thomas didn’t believe the Lord or his brethren’s claim that he had resurrected, where then did his faith lie? Here: “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.” The disciple also mentioned placing his hand in the Lord’s side but I find it interesting that he spoke about placing his finger in the Lord’s side before he could believe. Dwell on that for a moment: Jesus, the living word of God, by whom all things were created and through whom all things are upheld, whose word Thomas watched raise Lazarus (and several others), whose word calmed the stormy sea and multiplied bread and fish and healed the sick, spoke that he would rise from the dead after three days but his disciple, Brother Thomas, didn’t believe that when it happened. Sister Mary Magdalene testified to seeing the risen Christ, his co-disciples did same, but this disciple who was an eye witness chose to place his faith in his finger rather than the word of God fulfilled. A finger! Jesus had said to his doubters that he drove out demons by the finger of God (Luke 11:20) but Thomas was here talking of a human finger.
In what was one of his first teachings, Jesus spoke exclusively to his disciples in the sermon on the mount. One of the things he told them was this: “Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18). That law came to fulfilment but his disciple chose to believe only after his finger had confirmed it. Faith in a finger! Trust in human anatomy rather than in the word of Christ. How ridiculous!
Thomas placed his faith in his finger but don’t we do the same? Don’t we also have our own ‘fingers’ –self-made devices that we believe in instead of the word of God? The word of God has promised you his provision, but you trust in your job and your savings more than you do his word. You become restless once your account begins to run low even when the word of promise remains constant. There are some persons who trust more in the dogs they keep at home for security more than in the God who says he never slumbers nor sleep. Why do people, even those who attend Church, wear charms? What influenced the choice of the course of study of many is not a sense of purpose or talent but an attempt to secure the future: “This course is more marketable” they say. The list is endless. There is an ever abiding temptation to shift our faith from the word of God and place it in the devices we have created. That trust in one’s own devices is also at the heart of idolatry: “Let me create my own god that I can trust.”
Through the ages, this lack of trust has plagued the relationship between God and our human species. Even after the Israelites experienced the miraculous deliverance from Egypt, they still trusted in “chariots” instead of God. The cry to return to the onions of Egypt or the request for king in place of God are all symptoms of the same disease of faith-less faith – believers who don’t believe God but place their trust in their own means. We are in need of a continuing deliverance from this ongoing temptation.
God is Trustworthy
Shouldn’t it pass without saying that God is trustworthy? Just look at his record even in your own life. Those who put their trust in him are never put to shame. When God spoke to Abraham, he didn’t, like Thomas, trust in his anatomy or that of Sarah, he believed God. The parts of their bodies were of no good as far as child bearing was concerned. Hear the report on him:
‘We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”
‘Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.”’ – Romans 4:17-22 (MSG).
Merely a Whisper of His Power
This unbelief in the resurrection was one of the battles that the Apostle Paul had to wrestle in. The Jews didn’t believe his claims about the resurrection of Christ. In his defence before King Agrippa, Paul asked: “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8). With us humans, death ends all things; with God even death is nothing. Resurrection is only incredible to the natural mind. To God, it is nothing.
After Job considered the universe God created, he testified: “These are some of the minor things he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who then can withstand his thunder?” (Job 26:14). The biggest things you have heard of God are minor to him; merely a whisper of his power; the outer fringes of his works. What he says, he is more than able to do. Trust in him. Your finger is nothing; the mere bite of a dog can fracture it.
Woe betide him who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength. But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord, not his ‘finger’, his hope and confidence. Whatever ‘fingers’ you have believed in to this moment, discard them. Put your trust in God.
Do you need specialized trainings to help in bringing your God-given vision to pass? kindly Register for the Agents of Change Training Academy Apply Now!