One of the primary purposes of Jesus’ ministry, in my view, is simply summarized in his last recorded encounter with one of his disciples, Thomas. The witness, disciple, evangelist, preacher, quickly became “Thomas the doubter” after he placed a contingency on his belief. “Unless I see in his hands the marks of the nails, and place my fingers into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will NEVER believe” (John 20:25 ESV – emphasis mine) he said. Now, between you and I, was Thomas out of line? Is his thought process really too difficult to get on board with?
You know what I think? I think Thomas was way ahead of his time. I think his reasoning was built for the modern era. Thomas is requiring a scientific proof in a society surrounded by philosophy and mythology.
Now, Jesus’ reaction is even more intriguing. He spent 3 years performing “you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it” miracles and teaching his disciples, including Thomas, about the Kingdom of God. This is not the first time Thomas was witnessing a miracle. In fact, it is very probable that Thomas himself performed miracles. He was one of the ones feeding thousands with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Thomas wasn’t only a witness, he was a member of the Miracle Mob. What if you were Jesus? What would you do after Thomas’ remarks? Here’s what Jesus does: exactly what Thomas asked. He didn’t decommission or “de-apostle” him. He simply walked through a wall and asked Thomas to touch his hand and side.
Jesus was announcing that the kingdom of God is a kingdom of personal experience.
A kingdom of mutual relationship and responsibility.
A kingdom where the king holds his end and your end of the bargain if it comes down to it.
A kingdom for believers and for doubters.
It is true that salvation is for those who believe, and at some point we all have to take that leap, but whether you believe and see, or see and believe, the fact remains: if you are willing, there is plenty to see. After all, that’s what the Gospel is all about. Accounts. Accounts by those who have seen.
It is difficult, and I would dare to say frustrating, to reason with someone whose belief system is empty. Empty of experiences, convictions, and the ability to take one step beyond his or her physical senses. Those conversations are filled with theories and quotes of someone else’s experience, and in the end they are… well, empty.
What scientific theory can you bring against someone’s experience? Thomas “the doubter”, who might as well have coined the phrase “seeing is believing”, would not disagree with any of us if we told him it is impossible for someone to raise himself from the dead. Thomas would also agree that it is impossible to walk through a wall, but he would tell you about the man who did both things.
Just like the apostles, including Thomas, some of us have seen and heard things, and these experiences can’t be denied. So, if you’ve seen or heard I urge you to share it with the world. Don’t keep it to yourself. In the past 2000 years plenty of people have shared what they’ve seen, some to their own demise. Those have not condemned the world, or sent the world to hell because the world wanted proof. They pleaded for forgiveness upon those who had not yet seen. Even when ridiculed, threaten, or sentenced.
If you are not all there yet, but you’ve experienced something that has rattled your belief system and made you rethink the way you see the world, I invite you to take that step. Allow Jesus to walk through those walls and show you His hands. He is ready. You just need to ask.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8