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May 08 2013

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The 12 Disciples (Thomas)

Caravaggio_-_The_Incredulity_of_Saint_ThomasNow Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 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.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:24-29

You know him as Doubting Thomas, Jesus knew him as friend. He was one of the twelve disciples that Jesus called to Himself. Often, I find myself in the same shoes as Thomas. I find myself saying under my breath, “Lord if you would just… then I…” But look what Jesus did for him. Christ didn’t scold Thomas or call him a doubting fool. He had mercy and told him, ‘Here I am, do whatever you need to do to believe.’ The resurrected Jesus whom Thomas along with all the disciples except John deserted during the crucifixion stood before him and loved him.

Our blessed Rabbi calls us to come and follow Him with faith in Him which by grace brings salvation. Yet, our faith isn’t based on nothing. He gave us evidence including the Word, the Spirit, and the conscience within that hungers for union with our Creator. He says that even by looking at nature we should see the mystery of God and be inspired to come to Him. The world thinks we’re crazy for believing in Jesus as the Son of God and the only way of salvation. Many think we’re crazy for believing in God at all! But those doubters have been given the opportunity to ‘touch the wounds of Christ’ in order to believe (figuratively speaking). We have been given goodness and miracles of life that point to divine Intelligence. Yet Jesus said blessed are those who have not seen and still believe. What does that mean? I really believe it means that those who come to Jesus without asking for proof, who simply and humbly come in faith alone, which includes a vulnerability, risking all intelligence, logic, and self-worth, to place their trust in Him without asking to ‘see His wounds,’ these are blessed for their measure of faith is firm. This same concept can apply to any situation, not just salvation. When we pray, we ask in faith. When we worship, we sing in faith. When we serve, we serve in faith. We live by faith because we follow Jesus whom by faith we believe provides, heals, loves, and saves us.

But faith isn’t the only thing Thomas teaches me about. Another thing strongly stands out to me when I study this disciple.

In John 11 we read the story of Lazarus, Jesus’ friend who died. He must have been a good friend because Jesus wept over him. Jesus knew the sadness of those around, of friends and family. He is a compassionate Savior. But Jesus waited another two days before going to Judea to visit the tomb where the mourning was taking place. The disciples knew the Jews wanted to kill Jesus by this time and if He went to visit the tomb of Lazarus they might capture Him there. But look in verse 16 what Thomas says boldly and faithfully, “Come and let us go with Jesus, that we may die with Him.”

I’m not sure what Thomas was thinking. It almost sounds like he was giving up. ‘We can’t escape this. Lazarus was our friend and we must go. But the Jews will be ready to kill Jesus. Let’s all die together.’ But I don’t know if that is what Thomas was thinking. He may have been thinking, ‘The time has come and I will boldly die along side my Lord!’ Either way, the fact that Thomas voiced in leadership that they should all go and mourn though they may die shows me that though he was often trapped by his own logic and need for proof Thomas loved the Lord with all his heart. He was ready to die in that moment, not running from faith, but choosing to follow the Lord boldly. What a surprise when they go and instead of facing death, witness the resurrection of their friend for the glory of God!

When we studied Philip we read in John 14:3-10 that he asked Jesus to show them the Father that they may believe. In the verses before this Thomas asked a similar question.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

Thomas wasn’t alone in his search for answers. He learned that logic and proof weren’t the way to the Father. Jesus is the Way, the only way, and He is also the evidence of a loving God as we learn in John 3:16-18.

Thomas, a man with a twin, a man with doubts and hang-ups, a man who preached the Gospel of Christ all the way to India and died a martyr, a man who literally touched the holes of the Son of God after His resurrection, is a man who answered the Call.

Jesus loves us and has called us to be His followers. I will follow. I will lay aside all logic, doubt, questions, and fears and I will answer His Call. Who could resist?!

- Richie

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