The other day I read the account of poor Thomas (dude doubted ONE TIME, and he’s never lived it down… maybe we ought to have a little grace and stop calling him Doubting Thomas? Or start calling ALL Christians Doubting <insert name here>? I digress.), and something new popped out at me.
If you’ll recall, Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when the resurrected Christ appeared to them. But when Thomas returned to the group, they filled him in.
“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 20:25).
Those last four words reverberated in my head.
I. will. not. believe.
I was convicted for Thomas.
“Lord… may we never be so brazen as to dictate to You what we will and will not accept as adequate proof of who You are,” I prayed.
Jesus had some how entered a locked room and shown the other disciples His hands and side, and their response was great joy (John 20:19-20). They didn’t tell Jesus, “Nope. Not good enough. You’re gonna have to do better than that. In fact, You’re gonna have to do exactly what we say, or we aren’t going to believe it’s really You.”
But that’s how Thomas reacted…
The disciples told him they had seen the Lord, but he didn’t believe them.
(Although the text doesn’t say it, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to assume the disciples told Thomas more than, “We have seen the Lord!” I think they probably also told him exactly what happened because it was all so miraculous – Jesus magically entered the locked room and showed them his wounds, spoke to them, breathed the Spirit on them, and gave them marching orders (John 20:19-23)).
True, it’s not an apples to apples comparison. The disciples saw and heard Jesus and believed. Thomas only heard about Jesus… but he was hearing ten of his closest friends all tell him Jesus was resurrected, something Thomas knew Jesus had told them was going to happen (Mark 8:31), and Thomas still chose not to believe.
Thomas had enough evidence. But it wasn’t the type of evidence he wanted. He refused to believe the truth about Jesus – namely, that He had risen from the dead – because it wasn’t on his terms.
How often do we do that?
How often do we tell God how to speak to us or what to do for us and then doubt His goodness, power or love when He doesn’t conform to our demands?
Conversely, how often do we miss God speaking to us or doing things for us because He does so in a way that is outside of our box?
Lord, help us change our hearts from “I will not believe unless…” to “I will believe always.”