A NOTE ABOUT THIS WEEK’S DEVOTIONS: Last week, we focused on the seven last words Jesus spoke from the cross. Jesus died on that cross, and his body laid in a borrowed grave. But death could not contain him. The tomb is empty and Jesus is risen from the dead! This week we focus on first seven words Jesus speaks on this side of the resurrection.
John 20:24-28 NRSV
Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he 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.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Christ is Risen!
He is Risen, Indeed! Alleluia!
Doubting Thomas. Every year, the Sunday after Easter we hear the story of Thomas. Jesus appears to the disciples on that first Easter in the evening, but Thomas wasn’t in the room where it happened. And so when he enters and the others tell him that Jesus had appeared to them, he wants more proof. He doubts.
But doubt is okay!
Frederick Buechner says “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”
In the Gospel of Matthew, it is evident that Thomas wasn’t alone in his doubts. In Matthew 28, soon after Jesus is risen from the dead, he meets his disciples.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matthew 28:16-17 NRSV)
The word “some” does not appear in the Greek text. One of my beloved seminary professors, Dr. Mark Allan Powell writes about this verse in his book, Loving Jesus .
… I want to note that the word some is not actually found in the Greek Bible. Why is it in the English version? Well, Matthew uses a particular construction here that allows translators to think that the word some could be implied. He also uses that construction in seventeen other instances, though no one ever seems to think the word is implied in those cases. It could be implied here, but why would it be? I asked a Bible translator that question one time and got the following response: “The verse wouldn’t make sense otherwise. No one can worship and doubt at the same time.” I invited this fellow to visit a Lutheran church. We do it all the time.
I believe doubt isn’t a weakness, but a yearning to know more.
And when Thomas has the opportunity to be in the presence of Jesus Risen from the dead, Thomas is the first to make the great confession of who Jesus is.
“My Lord and my God!”
Doubting Thomas? Confessing Thomas?
What questions do you have? It’s okay to ask.
Christ is Risen. Indeed!
Let us pray:
Almighty God, help us, we pray, in the midst of things we cannot understand, to believe and trust in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection to life everlasting. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Risen Savior. Amen.