“Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”
The resurrection of Jesus produced many changes.
Little wonder that Thomas had difficulty believing it.
One moment we behold Jesus groaning in bitter agony, His body bruised with welts and torn by nails. At His feet some soldiers idly gambled for His clothing, others joined the taunting multitude of Scribes and Pharisees saying, “He saved others, himself he cannot save. If thou be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him; for he said, I am the Son of God.” Matt. 27:42, 43. When the darkness of hell prevailed upon the cross, He cried out of His desolation, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me.” But now is Christ risen from the dead! What a change. That corruptible body has put on incorruption, mortality hath been swallowed up in victory. Suddenly He appears to the women and in regal power commands, “All hail!” He tenderly walks beside the travelers whose hearts burn within them and unfolds to them the, Scriptures. The glory of it all is summed up in the words, “Peace be unto you.”
His enemies were also affected by the resurrection.
At the cross they congratulated themselves on a job well done. They had at last gotten rid of this rebel. The Chief Priest and Elders gazed upon His naked form and heaped upon Him their utter contempt. They observed the sword wound that produced blood and water and sighed in relief. At last this bloody business was over. But early on resurrection Sunday their anguish returned to them. The tomb which they had so meticulously sealed by the decree of Pilate and guarded so carefully by soldiers was rent open by angels from heaven. The latter end had become worse than the beginning. The tales of the frightened guards moved them to calculate hastily what action to take; bribery was the answer! They would fabricate a story that the disciples had come by night and stolen the body. Money would produce that lie from the lips of the soldiers and the pressure of prestige would guarantee their safety before the governor. Defiant mockers have now become calculating liars.
The resurrection made that change.
It also affected the disciples.
Heavy hearts had gone home that dark Friday. The disciples had observed it all from a distance. Their Lord had been crucified. As the minutes passed into hours the reality began to numb their fevered brains. How could this be? The Lord of Life had died at the hands of cruel men. The presence of the risen Lord transformed them. It took awhile, but when Jesus breathed on them the Holy Spirit, they began to see the dawn arise taking away the hellish night of confused unbelief.
It was all so wondrously strange.
Something like this had never happened before.
Unquestionably, they had observed the miraculous work of Christ as He raised the dead to life. They knew the chronicles of the Old Testament which are replete with proof that the Lord of Heaven was also the Lord of life over death. Even Abraham believed that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead. Elisha had raised the son of the Shunammite from the dead. These events excited the thoughts of many in Israel as they were passed down in tradition from father to son. The living Lazarus was adequate testimony of the power of Christ as the way, the truth, and the life.
But this was different. No one stood before the tomb of Jesus and shouted, “Come forth!” No man rolled away the stone of the tomb to let Him out. On the contrary, angels were commissioned by God to come to the earth to roll away the stone to allow the spectators to enter in and find the evidence that Jesus had already arisen. He had not come back to the earth as the others had done. Rather, He had gone through the grave and lived beyond the grasp of that monster death who comes to sting every mortal man.
He arose, that was the difference.
His body was changed from mortal to immortal, from corruption to incorruption. He was on the other side of the grave ready to ascend to His Father’s house of many mansions. He had gone from death unto life.
This defies human imagination, for flesh and blood cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Thomas had a problem.
Under the providential direction of God, he had missed the great unveiling. Throughout the first resurrection Sabbath, reports came to the upper room that Jesus had arisen from the dead. The first feeble evidence came early in the morning after Mary had detected trouble and left the company of the women to return immediately to the disciples to report the open tomb. Her report, “They have stolen his body, and we know not where they have laid him.” Immediately Peter and John raced to the tomb, witnessed the grave clothes and left convicted by the evidence. While these disciples were away, the women informed the remaining ones that they had seen the risen Lord. Soon their tale was confirmed by Mary who also had received such a visit in the garden. Toward evening the travelers to Emmaus returned with the marvelous tidings that Christ had made Himself known unto them in the breaking of bread. They were greeted by the joyful song, “The Lord is risen indeed and hath appeared unto Simon.” That same evening, while the disciples were musing on these great wonders, the door being closed, Jesus suddenly stood in their midst. He showed them His hands and feet, He ate broiled fish.
Thomas missed it all.
His reaction? “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
We don’t know where Thomas was or why he wasn’t there with the other disciples. One thing is sure, God wanted Thomas excluded. It was for our sakes.
For Thomas seeing was believing.
He wasn’t convinced by what others told him, he had to see for himself. We read of Thomas in three specific instances. The first was at the time Jesus announced that He was going to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. Thomas reacted by saying, “Let us go that we may die with Him.” The second time involved the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Before going to Gethsemane Jesus told His disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God believe also in me . . . . I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there ye may be also.” Thomas reacted to this by saying, “Lord we know not whither thou goest, how can we know the way?” The third event is that recorded in our text.
From this evidence we can easily understand the position Thomas took. He wasn’t pessimistic. He wasn’t a naive doubter. He simply didn’t believe anything he couldn’t touch, taste, smell, hear, and see. He was made captive to his senses.
He had to learn that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
God placed Thomas here in the midst of the glory of the resurrection in order to silence the argument of scientism, “Give us proof!” With this incident recorded in the infallible Scriptures God answers human skepticism with the response of the faith of Thomas, “My Lord and My God!”
The marvel of this event is that God comes to each one of us in the way that we need Him. This was true for the women, agitated and perplexed He greeted them with, “All hail!” Mary longed to have her Jesus back in order that she might minister to His needs, so Jesus said to her, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended unto my Father in heaven.” The disciples were confused and terrified and to them He said, “Peace be unto you.” He showed them the nail prints and they rejoiced. Peter was troubled at the thought of having denied his Lord three times, to Him Jesus rejoined, “Simon, Son of Jonas lovest thou me more than these?” After the third time he courageously answered not simply, Lord I like you, but Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee!
And here we have Thomas who has to see in order to believe.
For his sake Jesus returned the next Sunday.
“Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.”
How merciful of our Father in heaven.
He could have said to Thomas, because thou wouldst not believe except thou didst see, I cannot use you, depart from me, you are not worthy to be my disciple.
No, Christ returned for the benefit of Thomas. He preached the unsearchable riches of His glory to him. Christ produced the evidence which Thomas needed.
To this Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!” Suddenly the dark veil of unbelief is rolled back. Now he could understand that Christ was Lord. He had indeed descended into the depth of death and hell and now He had come forth triumphantly with a real body, the same one now glorified.
Thomas began to understand what Paul wrote later, “If Christ be not risen ye are yet in your sins.” But now is Christ risen from the dead! He is now the Lord of life. Having satisfied the demands of the righteous God and having purchased redemption for His own, Thomas saw the Lordship of Christ. He had conquered all the foes, He had swallowed up death in victory. “O death where is thy sting, O grave thy victory? . . . . Thanks be to God that giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Christ we are freed from the tyranny of sin and death and brought into the liberty of the children of God.
Hence Thomas added, “My Lord and my God.” Since Christ is Lord, His lordship is not apart from nor in competition with God; rather His lordship is to direct us to God that we and all His children may abide under the shadow of His wings in perfect peace for time and eternity.
Not just a Lord and a God, but my Lord and my God.
The floodgates of peace swelled the heart of Thomas. He saw the glorious truth, “Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” He was raised for our justification.
You struggle with the problem that besieged the troubled soul of Thomas? You find it difficult to believe all the Scriptures tell us concerning the wonder of God’s work of salvation? You are inclined to question God’s miracles and say with Thomas, “Unless I see and touch I will not believe?”
“Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.”
The evidence which Christ provided for Thomas was convincing.
What more need we? The resurrection is real, God tells us so.
Let us say with the church of all ages, “My Lord and my God.”
And therein we have the theme of our life that will carry over into all eternity.