Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have believed.” John 20:29
I’ve never liked nicknames. Because I was small for my age, peers often called me “shorty,” “small fry,” and “shrimp.” I’ve never liked the nicknames people give Bible characters either. For centuries, one of Jesus’ disciples has been labeled “Doubting Thomas.” True, he didn’t believe that the other disciples had seen the risen Lord, but they had been equally skeptical before they saw Him.
All the disciples had forgotten Jesus’ declarations that He’d be resurrected. In fact, when the women declared the tomb was empty, the disciples considered their words “nonsense” (Luke 24:11). Their doubts were erased when Jesus entered a room even though the doors were locked! When Thomas saw Jesus, he too believed. He didn’t need to touch Him to know He was real. He immediately proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.”
His declaration of Jesus’ identity is a powerful testimony. The word translated “Lord” is kyrios—the Greek equivalent of two Hebrew words—Jehovah and Adonai. The word translated “God” is the Greek equivalent of Elohim. By saying “My Lord and my God” Thomas affirmed three truths: Jesus is Jehovah, the One True God of the Old Testament. He’s Adonai, the Owner and Master of all people, and He is also Elohim, the Triune Creator and Sovereign of the Universe.
Like some of the other disciples, Thomas had been following Jesus, the Teacher. But Thomas’ encounter with the Resurrected Jesus convinced him that He was more than a teacher, more than a prophet. Jesus was God in human form–worthy to be worshiped, not just followed.
Jesus rebuked Thomas for his lack of faith—“Stop doubting and believe” (John 20: 27). I wonder if He’d say something similar to me. Sometimes my prayers sound a lot like Thomas’ words: “Do this, Lord, and I will believe. Answer this way, and I will obey.” Jesus may respond to such flimsy faith as He did in Thomas’ case. But that’s not the kind of faith that pleases Him most.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (v. 29). Am I willing to say “My Lord and my God” even when I can’t see Him? That is the true test of my commitment to the Resurrected Christ.
Compare Thomas’ declaration in John 20:28 with John’s declarations both at the beginning and end of his book (John 1:14, John 20:30-31). Why are these statements so crucial to our understanding of who Jesus is?
Read Luke 24:1-12. Why do you think the disciples doubted the women’s words? What is Peter’s reaction? Why don’t we call him “Doubting Peter”?
Read Matthew 26:30-32, John 14:18-20, and John 16:16-22. Why do you think the disciples were so confused about Jesus’ words? What do we know that they didn’t know?
Who was Jesus talking about when he said “those who have not seen”? Consider John 8:56 and 1 Peter 1:8-9.
Denise K. Loock