John 20: 24-31 (MsgB)
But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.” But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in His hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in His side, I won’t believe it.” Eight days later, His disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then He focused His attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine My hands. Take your hand and stick it in My side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.” Thomas said, “My Master! My God!” Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way He personally revealed it.
So now, here we are eight days after Easter morning. Eight days into the ‘new beginning’ where Jesus, through the wisdom of God, is transferring His Kingdom ministry into the hands and hearts of about 120 followers.
Think of it.
Those same 120 followers are being led by twelve men the New Testament writers refer to as ‘apostles’. Messengers ‘sent out’ by God. Some of the other New Testament documents will eventually refer to these guys, and others like them, as ‘elders’ or ‘overseers’.
Before too many more days, more men and women will be appointed to these unique pastoral-shepherding roles, assigned to ‘feed the sheep’, leading those who call themselves ‘disciples’ of Jesus of Nazareth in a world gone astray.
In years to come, the name ‘Christian’ will be assigned to these folks who decide to follow Jesus and His ‘out-of-this-world’ teachings. In Antioch, a secular city far removed from the ancient holy city of Jerusalem, this name ‘Christian’ will begin to catch on. Here, a group of these followers of Christ are found gathering together in His Name. Quite honestly, we don’t know if the name ‘Christian’ was chosen by the people themselves. It’s very possible that those who hated these followers of Christ came up with this name, laughing as they said it. The word, ‘Christian’, you see, means ‘little Christ’.
Similar things have happened in church history. Those who followed the teachings of Christ as led by the pastoral-shepherd John Wesley were pegged by their critics as ‘Methodists’ because of the ‘methods’ they followed in their devotional lives. Other followers of Christ who were led by pastor George Fox suffered a similar plight when others began to poke fun at them, calling them ‘Quakers’ because of their amazing Holy-Spirit encounters with God.
So based on church history, I can just imagine the course jokes being spread across the Roman Empire as these bands of Christ-followers assembled together in living communities called churches. I’m sure it was easy to laugh at these common, un-educated folks who decided to give their lives fully to a message that proclaimed the death and resurrection of a carpenter from the sleepy town of Nazareth. Just imagine the folly. Calling this crucified common man from a dusty Jewish village, Messiah. Christ, (The Delivering King) if you are Greek.
And not only is it a joke to believe such nonsense, the rumor has it that these same idiots are saying that their mission in life is to now give a living testimony of this Christ to others, offering ‘salvation’ to sinners, forgiving sins, and granting peace to others, in the name and power of this Jewish carpenter-turned-rabbi from Nazareth!
Little Christ! Ha!
Disciples of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah. Bah-hum-bug!
Maybe this is why Jesus told Thomas to stick his hands into the scars on His body? Maybe this living proof given to a natural-born doubter will help him as he steps into his coming role as leader of others for the sake of Christ?
Apparently, for Thomas, the experience of touching the scarred hands and wounded side of Jesus was all he needed to cross from unbelief to belief.
But what about those poor suckers like us who will never have that amazing opportunity to touch the physical body of the resurrected Christ? What about us leaders of the Church in the 21st century who are left without that living proof? Lord, don’t You care about us? Don’t You understand, Master, that we need a similar experience as Thomas in order to hold to our belief that You are who You say You are?
The Lord, unfortunately, withholds opinions on those questions and only says this:
“Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”
Thanks, Jesus. I appreciate that. But Lord, can You give me just a little bit more to hang my hat on?
Fortunately, John, the gospel writer, knew that Jesus’ answer here just might not seem sufficient for those of us trying to live as ‘little Christs’ in a generation so far removed from the physical manifestation of Jesus in bodily form. So John, one of those new pastoral-shepherds of the 1st century, thankfully adds these words of comfort for those of us who will so desperately need it in years to come…
Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way He personally revealed it.
Thanks, John. I truly needed that!
My prayer: Lord, while I’m disappointed that I’ll never have the unique opportunity that was afforded to Thomas, I do thank You for the amazing promise You give to those of us who are asked to believe while never seeing. Holy Spirit, thank You for Your in-breaking presence in our day and age. A holy, unshakable presence that gives us, in our generation, the day-to-day, living evidence of Christ’s claim as our Rescuing King. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How can I take the historical records John and the other three Gospel writers have left for us and apply them in my life in such a way so that I might have “real and eternal life in the way Jesus personally revealed it”? Like Thomas, how does my battle with ‘believing without seeing’ get in the way of living that ‘real and eternal life’ Jesus speaks of?
So what is God speaking to you today as we follow Jesus the Nazarene, the Leader of the Church?
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