Today’s Bible Reading:
Today’s Bible Verse(s):
John 20:27 (CSB): “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe.’”
Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):
Over and over in Scripture, it is made clear to us that God values belief. He values it when we trust in Him.
In fact, it is thoroughly impossible to bring a smile to His face if we aren’t trusting in Him.
Hebrews 11:6 (CSB): “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
If we are completely honest with ourselves, we will have to acknowledge that our faith is so small. And we may feel as if our faithless life is so displeasing to God. Further, we wonder if we can ever have enough faith to please Him.
But, friend, that mindset is flawed and destructive. It doesn’t take into account God’s grace. It fails to realize that God wants to meet us in our weakness and help to grow our faith.
When a little child is learning to walk, we don’t harshly criticize the child when he or she falls repeatedly. Instead, our love for that child causes us to celebrate each time he or she takes a step.
I believe that God does this in regard to our faith. He meets us where we are. Each little step of faith is celebrated and helped along so that we can eventually take bigger steps of faith.
I see this truth in our readings for today. Let’s take a look at a few of the verses.
John 20:24-25 (CSB): “But Thomas (called ‘Twin’), one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were telling him, ‘We’ve seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘If I don’t see the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.’”
Thomas skipped a church service. Unfortunately for him, it was a church service when Jesus showed up.
When his fellow disciples told him about Jesus’ appearance, he refused to believe it. He made it clear that he needed empirical evidence. He needed to see and feel the scars that were left by the cross. Only then would he believe that Jesus was truly alive.
Now, let’s take a moment and reflect on Thomas’ unbelief. He refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead and refused to believe that Jesus had shown up to the church service.
So, given our knowledge that God prizes faith and given the fact that we realize that without faith it is impossible to please God, we can only imagine that God was sorely displeased with Thomas’ unbelief. In fact, if we didn’t know the rest of the story, we might assume that Jesus would soundly rebuke Thomas for his pitiful lack of faith when they met the next Sunday.
But, that’s not what happened. Our gracious God, who values faith, also loves to help our faith along. He meets us in our point of weakness and works to build our faith a little bit at a time.
Listen to what happened seven days later when Jesus confronted Thomas.
John 20:26-28 (CSB): “A week later his disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe.’ Thomas responded to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”
Isn’t that incredible?! Jesus didn’t rebuke Thomas. Instead, Jesus gave Thomas the evidence he required. Jesus helped Thomas’ faith to grow.
Friend, God is holy and just and there are standards that we must live by. We must take sin seriously and repentance just as seriously. When we are unbelieving, we need to acknowledge it as sin and confess it to the Lord.
But, we must also never forget that we serve a gracious God! He meets us in our weakness and delights to help us along. Oftentimes, when we feel as if God would be right to rebuke us, He graciously assists us and affirms us.
Finally, God’s grace does not affirm our unbelief. It doesn’t allow us to remain in that unbelief. Instead, it calls us to new heights of belief.
John 20:29 (CSB): “Jesus said, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’”
As we listen to Jesus’ final words to Thomas, He said that Thomas was able to believe because he had empirical evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. But, Jesus then said that those who would believe without such proof were blessed.
It was Jesus’ subtle, gracious way of calling Thomas to believe a little more readily next time.
Friend, don’t be hypocritical with Jesus. If you are going through an ordeal and are struggling to trust Him in the storm, be honest with Him about your unbelief. He knows it anyway.
If you are reading through your Bible and are struggling with believing some of its truths, be honest with Jesus about your struggle. Let Him know of your unbelief. He knows it anyway.
Yet, realize that the same gracious Jesus who met Thomas in his unbelief is willing to meet you in your unbelief, too. Instead of disappointing God, you are more than likely the object of His grace as He meets you in your weakness and works to help it along.
In fact, if you struggle in the area of faith and belief, why not make the following words your prayer for awhile…
Mark 9:24 (CSB): “… ‘I do believe; help my unbelief!’”