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He was gone. My Master, gone. Departed. All of our plans ruined. All of our hopes shattered. He was nailed to a cross and died. And then they took Him down and put His body in a grave. It was all over.
I am Thomas, one of the twelve. I loved Him. I was devoted to Him. I believed Him. In fact, I was ready to die for Him. When news came that His friend Lazarus died, Jesus told us He was going to Bethany where the family lived. But that would be dangerous; His enemies would be at hand, and those who wanted Jesus dead might find their opportunity. So I would not let Him go alone. I got the others to agree, and we went with Him even though it could have meant death for us. It eventually meant death for Him.
Now, of course, I remember His teaching. I understand now that He was telling us this would happen. But none of us could see it at the time. He said He was going away to prepare a place for us. We didn’t know what He meant. I asked, “Lord, we don’t know where You’re going, so how can we know the way?” I wasn’t doubting; I just didn’t understand. I always learn better when I get to see something to go with the words. At the end, I saw. Something to go with His words about leaving us. The horror of Golgotha.
After that, we fled. We feared for our lives. We thought the chief priests or the Roman soldiers might come after His disciples next. So we hid in homes around Jerusalem through the Sabbath. The next morning Peter and John and some of the women went to the tomb. They came back saying the tomb was empty, claiming that Jesus had risen from the dead. That night they all met in secret, and later they told me that Jesus visited them and then disappeared. But I just could not believe it. A dead man from a grave, alive? I remembered Lazarus coming out of the grave. But Lazarus did not mysteriously appear and disappear through locked doors. And Lazarus had a--well, he had a whole body. His back had not been stripped of flesh. His side had not been opened by a Roman spear. No, I said, unless I could put my hands in the print of the nails in His hand, unless I could see and touch that horrible gash in His side, unless I could see with my eyes and touch with my hands and have proof that He was alive, I could not believe.
The other disciples still insisted that they had seen Him alive. Two of them told that He had walked the road with them to Emmaus. Mary Magdalene told again how she met Him in the garden. They urged me with their personal experience. But I could not believe without seeing for myself. I had to see for myself. I didn’t want to hear about Him; I wanted to see Him and touch Him, to know myself that He was alive. I was the voice of doubt.
A week later we all gathered in the same room where the others claimed to have seen Him before. Suddenly, He was there. Jesus appeared in our midst. I knew He didn’t come through the door. The door was locked because we were afraid. He greeted us. Then He turned to me. My heart pounded. His eyes looked straight into mine. He reached out and
took my hands in His. He spoke my name. “Thomas, put your finger here in My hands. Place your hand in this wound in My side and believe.”
He knew how I had doubted. He knew exactly what I had said. I had said I would not believe unless I saw the print of the nails in His hands. He said, “See My hands.” I told the disciples I could not believe unless I put my finger in those nail prints. He said, “Put your finger here.” I said I would not believe unless I could put my hand in His side. “He said, “Put your hand here in My side.”
And I touched the marks. Marks of the soldiers and the chief priests. Marks of men who rejected Him, despised Him, cruelly abused Him. They were marks of men who would not believe. Marks of unbelief. Scars of doubt. They were my marks. How was I any different? I was the man who would not believe. Mine were the nails. Mine was the spear. The scars were the marks of my disbelief. I fell to my knees and said, “My Lord and my God.”
What about you? To any of you who doubt that Jesus is alive, to any who doubt that He is the risen, living Lord, to any of you who doubt that He is God, I say doubt no longer, but believe. He rebuked me gently as the others watched. He said I believed because I have seen, but He said even greater blessing would be upon those who have not seen as I have and yet believe. When you come face-to- face with the resurrected Christ, the voice of doubt is silenced. It gives way to the voice of faith and hope, because this Jesus, this Lord, this God is not in a Jerusalem grave. He is alive.
Me? I doubt no more. And our hopes live again. Now the promises of God have come true. The Lord is risen indeed.
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