Thomas couldn’t believe what he was hearing, the other disciples were saying that Jesus was alive but how could that be? Thomas listened to them and then he famously replied:
“I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” (John 20 v25b)
The next few verses talk about the encounter that Thomas had with the risen Jesus which led to his belief and his statement of faith and worship: ‘My Lord and my God’.
I’ve read about this so many times and have even blogged about it (read more about what happened and my thoughts about it here: Stop calling him Doubting Thomas, God doesn’t like it!)
As I read this passage a few days ago something new struck me. Thomas’ encounter with Jesus begins with the words;
‘Eight days later’
Is it just me that finds that odd?
Thomas says he would believe when he saw and touched Jesus and as I read the passage, it feels like Thomas needs Jesus instantly but Jesus took over a week to go to him.
When Jesus set out for Jerusalem the other disciples were afraid but Thomas said ‘Let’s go too so that we can die with him’. John 11.16
Did Thomas have survivors guilt? He had intended to die with Jesus but he had actually survived by keeping his head down. Was he feeling guilty, is that why he wasn’t with the other disciples? Was this overwhelming sense of doom and gloom the reason why Thomas found it hard to believe?
Jesus taking over a week to arrive reminded me of the cliffhangers that TV episodes often end with. These cliffhangers used to be followed by the words ‘tune in next week for the next exciting installment of …’. You remember the sort of thing;
The hero has just fallen over the cliff edge (NO WAY!!) and the end credits roll. ‘Tune in next week to find out what happens next!’
You have just watched someone who you thought was one of the good guys betray their team and kill someone who you thought was their friend (DOUBLE NO WAY!!!). ‘Tune in next week to find out what happens next!’
You have just heard Darth Vader say ‘I am your father’ (EXTRA HUGE NOOOO WAY!!!!) to Luke and you have to wait more than a year to see what will happen next!
Let’s be honest, most of us hate waiting!
Sometimes we come to Jesus like he is a vending machine.
We expect to push his buttons in order to instantly get what we ordered.
Thomas wants to see Jesus in order to believe and Jesus answers his desire but he does so on his term sand in his own time.
Jesus knew what Thomas was thinking and he knew how long that he needed to process what was happening before he was ready to move on. Jesus taking over a week might seem cruel until we remember that God’s timing is perfect and that he knows all things.
Thomas had put his order in with Jesus but instead of simply fulfilling it instantly, Jesus gave Thomas what he really needed.
As Jesus appears, at just the right time, everything comes together for Thomas and he believes.
How about us? Are we waiting for something from God? Have we ordered something from him? Do we feel like he is saying tune in next ‘week/year/at some point’ to find out what happens next?
When we are disappointed with God, it is often because we have forgotten that he is the all-knowing one who knows what is best.
We want things on our terms but God wants what is best for us and sometimes that means that he won’t do what we are asking when we are asking.
Will we still trust God when he isn’t doing what we are want him to?
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