A week later his disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe.” Thomas responded to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (20:26-29 CSB).
After the world changed? No, I’m am not referring to Covid-19 or predicting how the world will be different following it. This is a blog about the Scriptures, and our focus is on what is far more important: the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ by salvation through judgment. I leave speculation to those self-assured of their own insights. Yesterday, we remembered Jesus Christ and his resurrection from the dead. Now we want to think about how the world changed for his followers in the days and weeks following that great redemptive event. It marked the end of the old or law covenant and the old age. It brought about a new age with Christ’s new and better covenant. Now we live in a time of better promises and brighter hopes. However, it took a while for his followers to sort things out.
In today’s text, we read of the doubts of one of the struggling apostles, Thomas. His former hopes had been smashed by the cruel crucifixion of Jesus, because he did not listen to all the words of Jesus and the Scriptures that Christ would rise again the third day. After the resurrection, Thomas heard the testimony of the other apostles but he wouldn’t accept their words. He wanted to experience the resurrected Lord Jesus himself. It was good that he wanted proof, because the Lord does not call us to trust him apart from evidence. Thomas’ problem was setting the terms for what evidence he would accept. This is a continuing problem among unbelievers. They set themselves up as judges over what they want to accept about the world. They fail to realize that they are too small to take in all reality and that they at best can only achieve very limited experience and knowledge. Nor do they wish to accept the dreadful effects of sin on human ability to reason. Pride runs large in human hearts. We all encounter prejudice and anti-God anger, but fail to consider that we have been infected with the spiritually deadly virus.
Thomas suffered from this spiritual malady, and he was unaware of his condition. But suddenly Jesus appeared and transformed his world and life view. He entered the room where the apostles had sequestered themselves, even though the doors were locked to keep out unwelcome visitors. What were the apostles doing after the world changed? They hid. They had a message to proclaim (Luke 24:45-49), starting in Jerusalem. But they hid. They lacked something to be able to witness: the power of the Holy Spirit!
Please do not imagine that we would have acted differently. None of them did, and they were people that would one day, excepting John, who would die for Christ. They were new people in a new world, but they lacked the outpoured Spirit of God to help them in their witness.
Jesus had already told them that they needed the Spirit, but the Lord did not let this teaching opportunity pass. First, he corrected Thomas. This apostle had been faithless when they others testified to him. So Christ himself provided clear evidence to lead Thomas to a new vibrant faith in his Lord. Thomas joyfully responded to it and proclaimed his belief in Jesus as his Lord and God. Second, the Lord Jesus provided encouragement for those who would later believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, apart from actually seeing and/or touching him. He gave all us a special blessing! So then, what we lack in experience is more than made up by what we receive through faith. And like the early apostles, all believers in the Lord Jesus receive the promise of the now poured out Holy Spirit. He is a great blessing indeed!
Grace and peace