Pastor Chuck DeVane
Special to The Sentinel-Record
Thomas answered him, My Lord and my God!
-- John 20:28
Thomas, a silent member of "the twelve" in the synoptic Gospels, is mentioned a little more thoroughly in the Gospel of John (ref. 11:16, 14:5, 20:24-29, 21:2). On the one-week anniversary of Jesus' resurrection, Thomas takes center stage. Here is how God's word identifies him:
Thomas had a natural-born negative attitude. He may have developed it from birth, since his brother was called by his real name while he apparently was not. People just called him "the twin." Feelings of inferiority often develop into deep pessimism. When other people don't expect much out of you, you tend to not expect much from yourself.
One of the things that has always bothered me as a Christian and a pastor is the fact that on most Sundays in most churches most of the members do not even show up. Now I certainly excuse those who are bound by age or illness to their homes, those whose vocational calling from God requires them to work some Sundays, and those who are traveling out of town. But that's not why most people neglect public worship on Sunday. They don't come to public worship because they don't think God has anything important to say to them. They sleep or play or watch television instead of assembling themselves with the Lord's people on the Lord's Day. You might call them heathens, or hypocrites, but today I'll just call them pessimists, like Thomas.
Thomas did not show up that first Sunday, but Jesus did. I think He shows up every Sunday when His word is preached, His name is praised, and His people pray and sing. I think when the Lord's people gather for worship on the Lord's Day, the Lord speaks. He can speak a word to you that can change your life for the better forever. But if you are pessimistic, if you are not present, you are going to miss what He has to say.
Thomas had a track record for questioning Jesus. When Jesus and His disciples arose from Galilee to go to Jerusalem to raise Lazarus from the dead, Thomas doubted. Rather than raising Lazarus from the dead, Thomas thought they would all get themselves killed. When Jesus revealed to them in the upper room where He was going and how they could follow, Thomas spoke up and said He did not know what Jesus was talking about and did not know the way. Then, when Christ arose from the dead on Easter morning, he heard about it from those who were witnesses. Thomas' typical response: "Unless I see ... I will not believe."
Unfortunately, most people let the doubts get the best of them. Thomas must have thought, "If Jesus was God, how could he die?" So on that first Sunday, he quit. Other people think, "If God is good, how could he let my loved one die, how could He allow bad things to happen, how come He never gives me what I ask for?" So they quit coming to worship, quit searching the Scriptures, and quit praying to God. Being a doubter will eventually make you a quitter.
So if you are a doubter, like Thomas, let me tell you something and let me ask you to do something. Christianity rarely offers a quick fix (like the televangelists try to tell you). Sometimes coming to genuine, saving faith can take a long time. Sometimes, you have to wade through a slough of doubt. But please, don't quit. Come to worship, read the Bible, pray, keep at it. Faith is found in such ways.
Who brought Thomas to true faith? The same person who brought the other disciples to faith. The same person that can bring you to true repentance and faith -- the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus was patient with Thomas, just like He is with all of us. Jesus did not bang Thomas over the head because of his doubts and fears, He never does. Jesus came to Thomas, in flesh and bone, as the Word of God in the Spirit of God. Jesus Christ offered him peace and proof. When he got one, I don't think he needed the other.
You can I cannot see exactly what Thomas saw, but we can believe exactly what Thomas believed. There's something great and eternal that happens to you when you call upon the name, "My Lord and my God." Repent of pessimism. Retire your doubts. Believe believing Thomas and be a believer yourself.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]