Today’s passage: John 20:19–31
Focus verse: Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
The Bible writes that faith is having confidence in the things we hope for and assurance in what we don’t see (Hebrews 11:1). Today this definition of faith applies to us.
We cannot see Jesus, so we must accept his resurrection and the salvation that he provides through faith. We have confidence and assurance that he overcame death to save us.
The disciples and Jesus’s other followers have it better than we do. Some of them see the empty tomb and eventually all of them meet the resurrected Jesus. It doesn’t take so much faith to believe what their eyes perceive. John, “the other disciple,” sees and believes (John 20:8).
We can assume that Mary and Peter also believe once they see the evidence of Jesus’s empty tomb (John 20:1–2 and 6–7). The rest of the disciples believe when they see him (John 20:20)—or at least everyone except Thomas.
Though Matthew, Mark, and Luke only mention Thomas once, John tells us more about him than the rest of the Bible combined. He shares three accounts about Thomas.
The first story is Jesus telling his disciples what to expect and encouraging them to believe. He talks of preparing a place for them in heaven and coming back to get them so they can hang out with him forever. Then Jesus adds, “You know the way.”
This confuses Thomas. He wants clarification.
Jesus responds with what has become a familiar verse. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The second story is what Thomas is most known for. This is where we get the phrase doubting Thomas. When Jesus rises from the dead and sees his disciples for the first time, Thomas is absent.
He doesn’t believe the disciples when they insist that Jesus is alive—again. Thomas does the reasonable thing and demands proof.
In the third story, the disciples, including Thomas, hide in a locked room. Jesus materializes in their midst. He shows Thomas the nail scars in his hand and invites him to examine his side, pierced by the soldier’s spear. “Stop doubting,” Jesus says, “and believe.”
At last, Thomas does. “My Lord and my God!” Thomas now believes. He is no longer doubting Thomas but believing Thomas.
Though doubt characterizes him for a time, belief is where he ends up. He finishes strong. May we do likewise. May we have a firm belief in Jesus and who he is.
Jesus blesses Thomas because he sees and believes. We’re more blessed because we haven’t seen and still believe.
- Do you doubt that Jesus is who he claims to be? Why?
- How do you define faith?
- What should you do when your faith wavers?
- Is faith the absence of doubt or is it belief in the face of doubt? Why?
- Which of John’s three stories about Thomas do you most identify with? Why?
Discover more about faith in Hebrews 11:1–40. What insights can you glean from this passage?
Tips: Check out our tips to use this online Bible study for your church, small group, Sunday school class, or family discussion. It’s also ideal for personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.
Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.