Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” John 20:26
For the last several weeks, we have stopped at significant places with Jesus as He moved ever closer to fulfilling His mission. The Upper Room. The Garden. The Chamber. The Judgment Hall. The Empty Tomb. We’ve seen that each stop was purposeful and planned. And if we took the time, we learned something at each location.
Pessimistic. Loyal. Fatalistic. Devoted. Thomas is an interesting character. When Jesus receives word of Lazarus’s death and heads toward Jerusalem, knowing the imminent danger He faced there, Thomas is ready to go die with Jesus. (John 11:16) He wasn’t afraid. He didn’t hesitate. In the Upper Room, he wasn’t much for abstract ideas about going and preparing places, and said as much. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5)
Like the other disciples, he fled when Jesus was arrested. Like the other disciples, he really didn’t expect Jesus to raise from the dead. In his defense, the other guys were trying to persuade him AFTER they had the evidence. A few hours before, they didn’t believe the women’s reports any more than Thomas believed theirs.
On the eighth day after the resurrection, the disciples were gathered in a locked room. This time Thomas was there. We have all been where Thomas was that day. We have heard the promises Jesus made, but reality and the pain we’ve experienced made those words seem distant at best. We have heard the joyous testimonies of people around us, but struggled to respond with the same faith. Maybe we have wondered what was fundamentally wrong with us. Why don’t we get it? The faith thing seems so easy for everyone else. Maybe the heartache and struggles make the risk of faith too great.
But he was in the room. Notice how Jesus interacts with Thomas. Jesus doesn’t upbraid him for his lack of faith. It’s important to remember that Jesus didn’t shy away from doing exactly that when the situation warranted, like when He calmed the storm, or at Lazarus’s tomb. However, there is a difference between faith in Jesus and faith in our EXPECTATIONS about Jesus. Thomas misinterpreted that faith in his expectations for faith in Jesus Himself. When the expectations weren’t met, a faith crisis resulted.
Maybe you can identify. I know I can.
Thomas teaches us something else. His response wasn’t one of wonder or confusion like Peter and John at the tomb. It wasn’t even joy like Mary after seeing Christ in the garden. Thomas exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” Complete surrender. Genuine faith in Christ brings that. It throws out our agenda and our posturing.
The locked room is where things get real. Pretenses are stripped away and humility is refined. But the authenticity that results opens us up to the kingdom assignment Jesus has for us.
Thomas was in the boat when the tremendous haul of fish was taken a few days later. He was on the mountain when Jesus ascended. He was in the room when the Holy Spirit came. He preached the gospel in a language he had never studied enabling foreigners to hear the gospel clearly. There is strong evidence that he carried the gospel all the way to India where he almost certainly was martyred for his faith.
As you spend some time here with Thomas, consider your own faith. Is it in Christ or your expectations of Him? Are you genuinely surrendered? Are you ready to take on the task He has for you?
When you leave the locked room, your journey beyond Easter awaits!