Monday, October 5, 2009

Called to Follow - Thomas

Today we explore the walk of Thomas; nicknamed "Doubting Thomas" Who was this man hand picked by Christ to walk with him? Why exactly would Jesus pick a man always questioning to walk along the road he was traveling?

Thomas, also called Didymus was one of a set of two. The word Didymus is Greek for "twin". Thomas had a twin somewhere that we are never told anything about. We don't know if his twin was a boy or girl. Whether they were identical or not. But from what we know about twins, they either want to be totally different or you can't separate the two. So what does that tell us about Thomas? Maybe it could have been that he wanted his own identity, to be different than his sibling. That would explain some of his willingness to do the different thing. To leave it all behind and follow Jesus like he did.

Often when we speak of Thomas, we speak only about his doubt and weakness. Thomas had other character traits that we rarely acknowledge. Like his courage and his quest for truth and understanding.

When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days before deciding to return to him. When his disciples were told they would return to Judea, they were fearful for their master’s life.

John 11:8 - The disciples said to Him, "Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?"

The Jews in Judea were threatened by Jesus and wanted to rid themselves of Him. They sought to stone Him to death. But as always, Jesus is not afraid. He is in control of the situation. His power is much larger than they could ever imagine. Jesus had His father’s agenda to fulfill and he would not be deterred from it. He instead, teaches a lesson on walking in light and not darkness. Then informs them that Lazarus dead. He is glad that he was not there to save Lazarus from death. Now maybe these twelve men would finally understand his glory and believe. Our courageous Thomas speaks up.

John 11:16 - Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him."

Thomas was ready to go to his death with Jesus. He understood that the Jews wanted to kill Him. He understood that if they stoned Jesus, he too would likely be put to death. Still, he was ready to endure that for the one he had chosen to follow. We may think of Thomas as weak but he was courageous enough to follow Jesus even if it meant death.

That would not happen though. Thomas would not go to his death in Judea. Instead he would see the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead. We often read the account of Lazarus and brush right over it. But this event was unheard of then and still is now. Right before their eyes, a man dead for four days comes out of the grave. What if it happened before your eyes?

Imagine with me. Close your eyes and think of someone you lost to death. Remember back to when you attended the funeral. Picture yourself sitting in the chair as the service is performed. Jesus walks in, walks to the casket, and says " _______ Come forth" Your loved one sits up in the casket and has to be helped out of it because they are alive!

Would seeing something like that change you? It would me. It had to of change Thomas. It had to secure his belief that Jesus was who He said He was.

The last night before Jesus was arrested and went to the cross, the group shares a meal together for Passover. This famous meal is observed by many today as taking communion. That night Jesus spent much time with His loved disciples. They broke bread together. Jesus shared the truth about being a servant and washed their feet. Then He shared many lessons with them before they would be left on their own. As Jesus tried to explain His departure from this world, He told them this.

John 14:2-4 - "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know."

Thomas, wanting to understand questions the Lord.

John 14:5 - Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?"

"I don't understand Lord, I want to understand. I want to know so I make sure I go the right way. ”This basically what Thomas was saying.

Have you ever spoken these words yourself? "I don't get it Lord. I want to but I don't" I have spoken these words many times myself. I want to do Gods will, but what is that? Thankfully, instead of a condemning voice we hear a merciful God answer us and tell us the way. The same was done for Thomas. Jesus told Thomas, "I am the way." He would get to where Jesus was going through no effort of his own but by the effort of Jesus.

We can not leave this exploration of Thomas without looking at the whole reason he was nicknamed "Doubting Thomas" in the first place. It comes from the encounter we see in John chapter 20. Jesus has risen from the dead. The tomb is empty. He appears to the disciples where they are assembled. Thomas is missing from this encounter. He missed the meeting and in turn was not there to encounter the risen Christ like the rest did.

John 20:24-26 - Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them "Unless I see in His hands the prints of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."

Thomas had seen his Lord crucified and buried. He knew what his eyes had seen. He would not believe just anything people said. Even if it was his friends and fellow disciples. But Jesus would not leave him in his unbelief. He would not be left to continue his doubt.

Instead, eight days later, Thomas now at the meeting. Jesus comes into the room again and says "Peace to you!" Immediately, he addresses Thomas.

John 20:27-28 - Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus came that day just for Thomas. To show His unbelieving child that He was real. To show him that the resurrection was true and He was alive again.

Just like Thomas, we are not left to stew in our unbelief. God gives us plenty of proof all around us that He exists. He left us four accounts of Jesus' life, death and resurrection so we can believe in who He is. We also get to see it in the lives of others. The resurrected life of believers around us shows us the reality that Jesus is alive today.

Jesus was not finished speaking to Thomas that night. He had one last thing to say to him about his doubt.

John 20:29 - Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Friends, this is us Jesus was referring to. We are those that must believe without seeing. We can not see Jesus in the flesh face to face. We must rely on the truth we see in scripture to believe. But we are still called to follow the same way as the disciples were. And we are asked to believe the same way.

We must take our doubt to Jesus and let Him take it from us.

What fills your heart with doubt today? Use this time now to take it to Jesus and believe.


Michael said...

Doubt must be removed from each of us. The bible makes many references not to doubt. Come and see my blog if you are interested further in the subject of doubt.

In His Glorious Name Ministries Online said...

Great Post! Great Blog! Great Content! You've been awarded "The Blog Award Of Excellence" from "Christian Blog Awards".

Congratulations !!! and keep up the great work ..

Sherri Watt said...

Thanks Miechael for your comment. I will have to pop over and check out your blog.

Thanks so much for the award! I am humbled.