3 July 2017

John 20:24-29

“Then Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’” (vv. 27-29)

Psalm: Psalm 31:1-6


Today, the Church in the West celebrates the feast of St Thomas. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Thomas only appears as a name in each of the lists of the twelve Apostles (Matthew 10:3Mark 3:18Luke 6:15Acts 1:13). If we did not have John's Gospel, we would know nothing about "doubting Thomas" - not even that he doubted! It is John's Gospel who not only tells us something of him, but notes that he is the central character in glorifying Jesus.

When Jesus's friend Lazarus was seriously ill (John 11:1-44), Jesus waited two days before heading back to Judea to see him. Why? Because the people there wanted to stone Jesus to death! The other disciples urged him not to go, for fear of what might happen (John 11:6-8). But who is it who fearlessly says "Let us also go, that we may die with Jesus" (John 11:16)? Thomas!

When Jesus tells the disciples that he's going to prepare a place in heaven for them, saying "You know the way ... where I am going", who is it who asks the question no one else dares to ask, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" (John 14:1-5)? Thomas!

And who is it that is missing when Jesus first appears to his disciples after his resurrection (John 20:19-23) and doubts their sanity? Thomas!

It was perfectly understandable that Thomas wanted proof. He was prepared to stand up to the ten apostles who had seen Jesus come back to life and tell them he wanted more than a wishful happy-ever-after fairy-tale. He needed to be convinced.

Yet who was it who was the first person to recognise that Jesus was no mere prophet, no mere teacher or miracle-worker, no mere Messiah … but Emmanuel, God-with-us? Thomas!

In his quest for certainty, Thomas has been dubbed 'doubting'. Actually, it would be more appropriate to call him 'Believing Thomas'. For it was Thomas who was the first to say to Jesus, "My Lord and my God!" (v. 28).

To Ponder

  • Is it alright to doubt? What proof do we need to be certain of faith?
  • When have you had to 'eat your words' because you got things wrong? How does that help you to help others to discover the truth?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Neil Cockling

Neil spent 20 years as a circuit minister before becoming the District Development Enabler for the Newcastle upon Tyne Methodist District. He now works full-time for the NHS as a Consultant Lead Chaplain in mental health, leading a multi-faith team of 14 chaplains working in 10 hospitals in Northumberland and Tyne & Wear.