Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Lord and My God

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although 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 see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
John 20:24-28

Nowadays, people tend to roll their eyes at "doubting" Thomas.  I mean, come on, Thomas, you were with Jesus all along and saw some pretty unbelievable things.  Were you really one to need all the evidence right in front of you to believe?  Was he?  After a closer look and an interesting lecture from my doctrine professor, I'm not so sure.
After all, Thomas had been with Jesus for quite some time.  In John 11, when Jesus wanted to go to Bethany after the death of Lazarus and the other disciples were hesitant about the trek, Thomas was all in!  He would go, they would all go, even if they could die in the process.  Thomas had invested much, emotionally and spiritually, in Jesus as Messiah. When Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb, Thomas was there. He saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. There's no way he doubted the ability of Jesus when it came to resurrection.
Thomas's problem lay in who he believed the Messiah was.  In John 14, Jesus was telling the disciples they would be with him in his father's house. He said they knew the way to where he was going, but Thomas piped up to inform Jesus that in fact they did not know the way or what Jesus was talking about.  Thomas's expectations of the Messiah were crumbling.  He didn't expect the Messiah to be God; he thought Jesus was a warrior to save them all from the clutches of the Roman Empire.
Thomas had followed Jesus wholeheartedly up until the cross.  But everything he thought about Jesus as the war hero was wrong.  The Messiah was supposed to save them all, but the Messiah was dead.  He was taken aback, shocked, angry, tired, confused, emotionally drained.  And then the other disciples said he was back? Thomas wasn't one who would only believe based on physical evidence. He wasn't merely "doubting Thomas." He was a wounded lover. How could he believe again? He could't possibly go through it all again. 
But then.
Jesus came to Thomas.  And this time Thomas saw Jesus as the Messiah.  He saw Jesus, raised from the dead.  He didn't leave you, Thomas!  Up until this point, Jesus had not been referred to as God.  But Thomas then recognized Jesus for who he really is:  part of the divine entity, the triune God.  Doubting Thomas was the first to call Jesus, "My Lord and my God!"

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