“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:26, NIV)
“I don’t know what I believe anymore…” Over the years, I have come to realize that statements like that can reflect honest feelings that come from a place of deep despair – a time when circumstances test our faith and leave us shaken to the core.
Life’s tragedies and trials can shake the best of us. The account of Thomas from John 20 is an illustration of that. If you have heard good sermons on Thomas, you may recall that the moniker “Doubting Thomas” isn’t a balanced depiction. In John 11:7, Jesus had told his disciples “Let us go back to Judea.” Most of the disciples respond, “…the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there.” Yet it is Thomas who responds to the rest of the disciples by saying, “'Let us also go, that we may die with him [Jesus]'” (Jn. 11:16).
Thomas’ love and zeal for Jesus had been as great as anyone else’s. Yet the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday had tested Thomas’ faith and had left him shaken to the core.
Thomas’ famous words “unless I see … and touch … I will not believe it” (Jn. 11:25) reflect his honest feelings at that moment. For Thomas, everything changed when his honest feelings were confronted by God’s Truth, i.e. the Risen Lord himself. Jesus was there in person - able to be seen and touched. Like a gentle shepherd, he guided Thomas back to faith. We shouldn’t let familiarity with the story keep us from taking Jesus’ words to Thomas and disciples through the ages to heart, “'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed'” (Jn. 20:29).
At LMS, we often meet people whose circumstances and experiences leave them shaken to the core. We allow them to express honest feelings. All the while, our ministry (whether it is sharing Scripture or offering a quiet, reassuring presence) serves as a testimony and a reminder of the Risen Christ’s presence – even to the end of the age (Mt. 28:20). Thank you for partnering with us in this ministry.
–Chaplain Arthur Werzner