Seeing is believing – Thomas’s moment of revelation
Do you know someone who always tends to be sceptical of any situation unless they have seen it for themselves, who can be somewhat cynical when confronted with good news. The person who has a tendency to pour cold water on the dreams and aspirations of others not because they are unkind but because they bring a dose of harsh reality to any situation – they are the sensible rationale one who needs hard evidence before they will accept anything as a done deal.
And amongst the disciples that person is Thomas – who happened not to be in the room when Jesus made his first post resurrection appearance. I always wonder where he was that day? Just popped out to buy some provisions maybe – after all if he and his mates were going to be cooped up for days on end they were going to need some food and drink! Anyway whatever the reason for his absence when Thomas does return the other disciples understandably can’t wait to tell him what has happened.
Well talk about one of those you had to be there moments – instead of being delighted to hear his friends news ( if not a little envious that he hadn’t been there himself!) Thomas moves into full blown sceptic mode – for him not seeing is not believing! Thomas is not prepared to take his friends words on trust – he wants hard evidence!
Then after what must have been a very long week still locked in the room together, Jesus once more appears to the disciples -and this time Thomas is there! Not only can he see Jesus he touches him, he has real proof that Jesus is not some ghostly apparition, he is flesh and blood, he is substantial, he is the person that Thomas knew before. And that is when Thomas’s transformation occurs – that is the moment we he changes from the ultimate sceptic to the ultimate believer.
. “My Lord and My God” he declares – it is Thomas who first declares that Jesus is in fact God.
Right back to the beginning of John’s Gospel it is written “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made.In Him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it”
And now the mystery of the Word is solved – Thomas’s proclamation that Jesus is God rips away the curtain of darkness that John described in his opening words. Jesus’s light shines ever more brightly and the darkness is no more because He is revealed as God. Thomas’s belief is the key to the mystery.
The issue of belief is vital to John’s Gospel – the word believe appears 99 times which is more than in all three of the other Gospels put together or indeed in all of Paul’s letters. Yet the word faith does not appear at all. For John to believe in the resurrection is the key to new life. Belief enables rebirth, through belief we enter into a new covenant with God. The final verse of this chapter sums it up for us perfectly – that by believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, we my have life in his name. What more do we need? John has presented us all with all the evidence of Jesus’s ministry, his teachings and the miracles he has performed. He has recounted the death and resurrection of Jesus. Its now down to us to believe – and by believing we are blessed as Jesus Himself says – “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”
As contemporary Christians we are among those who have not seen yet we believe. And in this world where evidence and data are the foundations on which so much of society is built, to believe in something that we haven’t seen is counter cultural. To proclaim the message of the Gospel that came to the world over 2,000 years ago, is for many people, completely inexplicable. But it is in the mystery of the Gospel that the truth appears. Jesus is as visible today as he was to the first disciples in that locked room. He appears in different ways in different places, often in the most unpredictable situations, the most unlikely settings. But in order to see him, we need to undergo transformation just like Thomas did. If we can discard our scepticism and our cynicism then we will see the most marvellous truth – that Jesus is alive and that through accepting him as our Lord and Saviour so too can we live, now and for all eternity.