If Thomas could tell us what he experienced when Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose from the grave, his account might go something like this…

A lot of people read the Gospels and think how wonderful it must have been to be one of Jesus’ first disciples, especially one of the twelve whom He chose to be closest to Him while He taught and worked miracles. Those three and a half years with the Master were wonderful, because He was wonderful—perfect, in fact.

There was nothing particularly wonderful about us disciples, though, and our flaws showed all the more clearly in the light of His presence. Peter was outspoken and impetuous. James and John tended to get carried away in their zeal. Philip was a harsh realist. And me? Because I doubted God’s power after Jesus rose from the dead and I was so vocal about it, my name has become synonymous with skepticism.

That’s not a label I’m proud of, nor the legacy I would have chosen, but I’m happy if others can benefit from my experience. If you have doubts about Jesus or the Bible, or the power of God, or the scope of His love, this story is for you.

After Jesus was crucified and His body was laid to rest, we all went into hiding for fear that His enemies would come after us next. When I saw the other disciples on the evening of the third day, I found that a lot had happened in my absence. Everyone started talking about it at the same time. “We’ve seen Jesus!” “He’s alive!” “It’s true! It really is!” “I saw Him too!”

Peter tried to help me understand. “We were huddled here, still trying to make sense out of what happened to the Master, when Mary came to the door out of breath.”

“We went to the tomb to anoint His body with spices,” Mary blurted out, “but when we got there, the stone was rolled away from the opening and His body was gone!”

“We thought it was just a wild story,” Peter continued. “But when she kept insisting that we go and see for ourselves, John and I did. And we found it just as she had said. The tomb was empty except for the shroud His body was wrapped in! On the way back here, I remembered how He had said, ‘For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’ 1, and I began to wonder if maybe Jesus had risen from the dead.”

Peter’s voice rose with excitement. “Then the most amazing thing happened! All of a sudden, Jesus was standing right where you are standing now! He showed us the nail holes in His hands and the spear wound in His side.”

My doubts drowned out the rest of Peter’s words. Impossible!

Two others were relating an equally incredible story about meeting a mysterious stranger on the road to Emmaus. Cleopas spoke for the pair.

“We were here when Mary came and said that she and the other women had found His tomb empty and had seen an angel who told them that Jesus was alive again. Then the two of us left for Emmaus, as sad and confused about what had happened to Jesus as you are now. On the way, we met a man who explained the prophecies in the Bible concerning the Messiah’s death, and the prophecies all fit Jesus exactly! Suddenly we realized that the stranger was Jesus, and in that same instant, He vanished!”

“I don’t believe it!” I blurted out. “I think you all are imagining things—seeing what you want to see.” I pled with them to be more rational. “I loved Him as much as you did. Don’t you see how ridiculous what you are saying is? I would have to see and touch the nail holes in His hands and the wound in His side before I could believe that He is alive!”

Eight days later, we were all gathered again when a figure walked right through the wall! It was Jesus! He came straight to me, smiled, and pointed to the wounds in His hands. “Thomas, put your finger here,” He said.

My words from the week before rushed through my mind, and I felt ashamed. He hadn’t been there when I had told the others that I wouldn’t believe until I saw and touched Him myself, but He knew, the way He always knew my deepest thoughts and feelings.

He took my hand and said, “Thrust your finger into the spear wound in My side and believe.”

I did, and in that instant all the lingering doubts I had vanished. I saw. I felt. But more wonderful still, I looked into His eyes—eyes filled with love and compassion. His love for me hadn’t been diminished by my skepticism. I was ashamed of my unbelief, but His love washed away both my doubts and my shame.

Yes, I was blessed to be in His presence, to hear Him teach, to watch Him do miracles, and to hear Him call me by name. I was blessed to see and touch the risen Savior, to be reassured of His love for me, and to hear from His own lips that all my sins were forgiven. But you have a special blessing. As He told me, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” 2.

  1. Matthew 12:40
  2. John 20:29