Bible Society of South Africa

Perfect Understanding – 23 April 2020

By Louise Gevers

Bible text(s)

26A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then stretch out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!”

28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

John 20:26-28GNBOpen in Bible reader

“‘A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” John 20:26-28

The verse today relates to yet another of Jesus’ beautiful displays of love and compassion to His disciples in their hour of need, showing how perfectly He understands and cares for each one as an individual. Thomas, who had not been present when Jesus had appeared to the other disciples the night of the resurrection, couldn’t, or wouldn’t, believe that the other disciples had seen the risen Lord. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” (John 20:25)

Circulating on social media is a saying that plays on the Parable of the Lost Sheep: “Jesus leaving the ninety-nine to find the one seems irrational, illogical and senseless, until that one is you.” Thomas was not technically ‘lost’ but he may have been able to identify with this statement after Jesus ‘returned him to the flock’, stronger than before.

Thomas had shown great belief in Jesus earlier in His ministry, but was experiencing a crisis of faith now. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1) but Thomas was battling, and disappointment was also clouding his vision. He’d been strong when the other disciples had been weak. Missing Jesus’ appearance which had brought the others deep joy and relief, had taken its toll.

Yet his predicament has encouraged Believers since, when Jesus seems distant and faith is difficult to muster.

Jesus showed Thomas that He understood his predicament just as surely as He had done for the other disciples and Mary. They all needed Him: Mary, in fear and grief, couldn’t see Jesus and Thomas, in fear and defiance of faith couldn’t believe without seeing, yet all shared the same result: an experience of Jesus tenderly meeting each one’s needs.

Jesus met the needs of His followers in their time of uncertainty and confusion then, as He does for His followers now; there is no crisis that we endure that He cannot understand. Learning that Jesus understood and helped Thomas through his experience means that we too can win through and be stronger than before. God cares for the doubt of the lost as much as for the belief of the ninety nine.

Wherever you are, Jesus understands.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are so grateful that You see each of us as an individual and know our personal needs. Have mercy on me in difficult times when our circumstances make it hard to believe You are there. In Your love, please meet me then at my point of need. Amen

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