Significance of Jesus’ Appearance to Doubting Thomas After His Resurrection

By Li Bian

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The Bible records, “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the middle, and said, Peace be to you. Then said he to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said to him, My LORD and my God. Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:26–29).

These passages talk about the Lord Jesus’ appearing to His disciples after He was resurrected. But what made me confused was why the Lord Jesus only allowed Thomas to touch His hands with nail marks and even the wound in His side among His many disciples. I believed there must be a mystery here for God does not get involved with matters that do not have meaning. Thereupon, I began to consult the Bible, and saw that when Thomas heard the news that the Lord Jesus had risen from the dead, he did not believe it at all, and said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). When Thomas said this, the Lord was not near. However, the Lord is omnipotent and scrutinizes all, and He knew what Thomas said, so He fulfilled his requirements and eliminated his doubts toward Him. Later, I inadvertently read a passage on a gospel website, which gave me a deeper understanding about the Lord’s appearing to Thomas and allowing him to touch His hands and rib.

Doubting Thomas,Jesus

The passage says, “Before the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross, Thomas always doubted that He is Christ, and could not believe it. His belief in God was established only on the basis of what he could see with his own eyes, what he could touch with his own hands. The Lord Jesus had a good understanding of the faith of this type of person. They only believed in God in heaven, and did not believe at all, and would not accept the One sent by God, or the Christ in the flesh. In order to have him acknowledge and believe in the existence of the Lord Jesus and that He truly was God incarnate, He allowed Thomas to reach out his hand and touch His rib. Was Thomas’ doubting any different before and after the Lord Jesus’ resurrection? He was always doubting, and aside from the Lord Jesus’ spiritual body personally appearing to him and allowing Thomas to touch the nail marks on His body, no one could resolve his doubts, and no one could make him let go of them. So, from the time the Lord Jesus allowed him to touch His rib and let him really feel the existence of the nail marks, Thomas’ doubt disappeared, and he truly knew that the Lord Jesus had been resurrected and he acknowledged and believed that the Lord Jesus was the true Christ, that He was God incarnate. Although at this time Thomas no longer doubted, he had lost forever the chance to meet with Christ. He had lost forever the chance to be together with Him, to follow Him, to know Him. He had lost the chance for Christ to perfect him. The Lord Jesus’ appearance and His words provided a conclusion, and a verdict on the faith of those who were full of doubts. He used His actual words and actions to tell the doubters, to tell those who only believed in God in heaven but did not believe in Christ: God did not commend their belief, nor did He commend their following which was full of doubts. The day they fully believed in God and Christ could only be the day that God completed His great work. Of course, that day was also the day that their doubt received a verdict. Their attitude toward Christ determined their fate, and their stubborn doubt meant their faith gained them no results, and their hardness meant their hopes were in vain. Because their belief in God in heaven was fed on illusions, and their doubt toward Christ was actually their true attitude toward God, even though they touched the nail marks on the Lord Jesus’ body, their faith was still useless and their outcome could only be described as beating the wind—in vain. … Thomas represents a type of person who believes in God yet doubts God. They are of a suspicious nature, have sinister hearts, are treacherous, and do not believe in the things that God can complete. They do not believe in God’s omnipotence and His rule, and they don’t believe in God incarnate. However, the Lord Jesus’ resurrection was a slap in the face to them, and it also provided them with an opportunity to discover their own doubt, to recognize their own doubt, and to acknowledge their own treachery, thus truly believing in the existence and resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III”).

From these words’ interpretation of the Lord appearing to Thomas, I knew that not only did Thomas not believe that the Lord could resurrect, but he also did not believe that the Lord was the incarnate God, Christ, from the beginning. Even though he followed the Lord Jesus and he had listened to a lot of sermons preached by the Lord and seen the Lord perform many miraculous signs and wonders, he still could not be completely certain that the Lord Jesus was Christ, the incarnate God. Especially when he saw the Lord was nailed to the cross, he even doubted who the Lord was. In his opinion, the Lord Jesus would certainly be able to get rid of the pain of the cross if He was Christ, but in the end, the Lord Jesus was crucified, so Thomas did not believe that the Lord was Christ or God, nor did he believe that He could resurrect. It can be seen that Thomas was a typical unbeliever. However, the Lord Jesus understood Thomas and knew that he was suspicious in nature, so He appeared to him after resurrection and allowed him to touch His nail marks to completely resolve his doubts. From this, we can see that the Lord Jesus understood that, as for the type of people who were suspicious in nature like Thomas, only by making them see with their own eyes, could He clear up their doubts toward Him.

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Having come to this understanding, I thought this was a warning for us believers in God. The Lord did not want us to be people of the same type as Thomas, because while he was believing in the Lord, he did not care at all about hearing the words spoken by the Lord and did not confirm through the utterances of the Lord that He was the manifestation of God for he stubbornly held on to the view of unbelievers “Words are but wind; seeing is believing.” Externally, he was following the Lord, but in truth his belief was half-hearted. He could not wholeheartedly devote himself and work for the Lord, and within him there was treachery, so that he had believed in the Lord for so long but had no knowledge of the Lord and that his suspicion about the Lord was not remedied in the slightest. That is why, in the end, when some of the disciples of the Lord said that the Lord Jesus had been resurrected, Thomas did not believe it until he saw with his own eyes and touched the nail marks on the Lord’s hands, and confirmed He was indeed the Lord Jesus. However, at that time, God did not praise his belief, just as the last words the Lord said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). From this, we can see that God is righteous, and that those who doubt the things God wants done and doubt His work and identity will finally be unable to receive His praise.

I could not help but reflect: I have believed in God for many years; is my faith true? Am I like Thomas, who was full of doubts about God? Through my reflections, I realized that, sometimes I would also, like Thomas, use the standpoint “Words are but wind; seeing is believing” in how I viewed things: When I heard some of the brothers and sisters in the church sharing their experiences of how they saw God opened up a way out for them by praying to God and relying on Him as they encountered difficulties in their church service, their work or daily life, because I had not experienced that, I would be skeptical; only when I personally experienced that and saw God also worked on me, could I believe it absolutely. At other times, I saw the words spoken by the Lord, “Seek, and you shall find,” but when I had sought for a time directly to the problem that I had difficulty with but failed to receive its answer, I would begin to not believe in God’s words. From this, I saw that this kind of attitude in my belief in God did not meet with God’s approval. I thought: I must immediately turn it around, because the Lord will not rapture those who do not genuinely believe in Him into the kingdom of heaven when He returns. At the moment, I suddenly thought of Peter, the disciple of the Lord Jesus. His belief in God was true, and he was the first one who recognized that the Lord Jesus was Christ. God cherished his belief and finally gave him the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and He also committed His sheep to him and let him shepherd them. I thought of why God was pleased with Peter. Peter and Thomas both heard the Lord Jesus’ preaching and saw the Lord perform many miracles, but Peter was not like Thomas, doubting what the Lord Jesus said and did. Besides, he did not place importance on whether the Lord Jesus could perform miracles on the outside, but instead, he focused on seeking God’s will from the Lord Jesus’ words. And he treated the Lord’s words with a pure and honest heart. Eventually, he obtained the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and recognized the Lord Jesus was Christ. Furthermore, in his later experiences, confronted with persecution and tribulation, he did not lose faith in the Lord but resolutely followed the Lord to the end, and finally bore the witness of the ultimate love for God and obedience to the point of death. With this in mind, I thought, “I should follow the example of Peter and become a person who simply obeys and pays attention to hearing God’s words. This kind of faith is the only way to obtain God’s praise.”

Thank the Lord’s guidance for enabling me to reap these harvests through my reading the Bible today. All the glory be to the Lord!

Read more on our Knowing Jesus page.

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