April 13, 2021

Coming to Believe

by Dr. Oliver Wagner

Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger
here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side.
Do not doubt but believe.”
John 20:27
In this second week after Easter we are flipping through the pages of resurrection stories. Among them, of course, is the well-known story of “doubting Thomas.” Other disciples had personal experience of Jesus that Thomas lacked because he wasn’t there when Jesus showed himself to them. Thomas even declared that “unless I see the mark of the nails and put my finger in the mark and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” As the saying goes, “never say never!”

Some of us come to belief later than others. Some have convincing experiences of God earlier in life that have them gladly sharing “I have seen the Lord” while others are more cautious and suspicious. Mother Teresa famously struggled to “see God present” in the incredible work she did among India’s poor. Such persons are not unwilling to believe, they just want or need more evidence, experience, proof and time. John’s gospel makes room for doubt. It isn’t so much a “no” to Jesus as it is a “not yet.” Faith comes as a gift when God “opens our eyes”.

Well, that “not yet” becomes an enthusiastic “yes” when a week later Jesus showed himself again to the disciples, and this time, Thomas was there. He offered Thomas the very experience he once desired, but it turned out Thomas didn’t need it after all. Instead, he professed his faith in Christ without touching. All he needed to do was “see.”

Then turning away from those disciples into the room and looking at each one of us who reads these words from afar and centuries later, the Lord Jesus Christ, says, “blessed are those (you) who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Believing that Jesus is risen and victorious over sin and death, believing that he is with us with blessings of peace, love and forgiveness, believing even though we were not among the first disciples who witnessed first-hand all he did and said, all of this is possible. What good news! Though our doubts and hesitancy are real and legitimate, and though we often struggle to “see God among us” the good news of the Thomas story is this: Easter faith is accessible to any and all. Truly, you didn’t “have to be there” in order to believe. It is a story of faith even beyond touch and sight. 
O Lord my God, thank you for every evidence and experience of your love and salvation. Help me move from the despair and desperation of doubt to the joy and peace of believing. Let the blessings of faith in Christ abound in me and in all the world. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009
770-751-0033 www.alpharettapres.com