Believe | Devotion #1: Who?
Holly Wells | Assistant to Pastor Jim Combs
Do you have to “see it to believe it?” Are you so much of a skeptic that unless you witness something first-hand, there is no way you will accept it or maybe you trust quickly and believe a little too easily? Whether it is the best or the worse infomercials – you might remember the Ginsu Steak Knives, the Snuggie, spray-on hair (really?), the list goes on – somehow, we become captivated by these ideas in theory. With theories in mind, there are top conspiracy theories like JFK’s assassination, Elvis still lives, claims that the world is flat, the government controls the weather, the Beatles never existed, and my favorite, “Siri Can Predict the Apocalypse!” Wow, so Siri now trumps the Bible? (Hint: The answer is found in Matthew 24:36). All silliness aside, we need to consider the source when discerning truth from “junk.” What is your source of determining truth? Is it trusted friends and family, social media, a pastor, the news, and even the Bible? What if all these sources at various times reported a very specific account, something that was going to happen and then later, you found out it happened? The catch is, you were not there to experience it first-hand, so would you believe it?
Shortly after we read about Jesus’ resurrection, we learn about His appearance to one of His disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin) in John 20:24-29. To recount the story, this was not Jesus’ first appearance after His resurrection. In fact, Mary Magdalene, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Peter, and the Eleven on the first evening all saw and interacted with Jesus before Thomas (Matthew 28:1-10, Luke 24:13-34, John 20:19-25). However, Thomas would not believe their testimonies. He wanted a personal experience to “see it to believe it.” He wanted to touch Jesus’ wounds. He wanted to “place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe” (John 20:25b). Thomas was one of the twelve disciples, so why was it that he would not believe even them? What about the time he spent earlier with Jesus’ as He taught the disciples Old Testament Scriptures that foretold of His life, death, burial, and resurrection?
It was eight days later when Jesus appeared again to the disciples, including Thomas. I wonder how miserable that week of declared unbelief and determined constraints was for him? Jesus demonstrated His care and concern for Thomas and desired to strengthen his faith. After Jesus greeted them, He dealt with Thomas personally. Jesus heard Thomas’ conditions to the disciples earlier; no one had to tell Him. He told him to put his fingers in His wounds, to look at His hands, and to put his hand into His side. Though we may call him “Doubting Thomas,” Jesus did not rebuke him for his doubts but rather his unbelief (John 20:26-27). When Thomas saw Jesus, he no longer needed to touch his Lord’s wounds to believe, seeing Him was enough. Jesus met Thomas where he was and desires to come alongside of us equally. We can be assured we will go through seasons of doubt and struggle, but let us persistently press into our relationship with the Lord through His Word and prayer, by allowing sound teaching and mature believers to encourage us so that through these trials, it will be our faith and endurance that will grow.
Warren Wiersbe wisely observed that interestingly (and sadly), it was not doubt that held Thomas back from believing but rather unbelief itself. Simply defined, “Doubt is often an intellectual problem: We want to believe, but the faith is overwhelmed by problems and questions. Unbelief is a moral problem; we simply will not believe. Unbelief says, ‘I will not believe unless you give me the evidence I ask for!'” Unbelief is a reflection of a hardened heart, not of a searching mind. Finally, though we may wonder who Thomas’ twin was, more importantly, it is to allow the Word to be a mirror into our hearts, allowing it to search us for similar refusals to believe and demands for God to prove Himself to us. May we be honest enough to ask ourselves, “Am I the twin?”
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1, KJV