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Thomas Missed Jesus

But Thomas…was not with them when Jesus came. John 20:24

            It had been an emotionally exhausting and spiritually draining week.  That evening, to get up and gather was like going to the funeral of a best friend after going through a tortuous process that led to death.
            Normally
                        energetic,
                                    strong,
                                                self-sufficient  men
are more like wet noodles around a table.  They are hardly able to think, much less, speak.  And they are filled with what is akin to terror that they will be next.
            It has been said it would be impossible to find a “more dispirited and unhappy people.”  Because, and this was the thing that really ate at their  insides, they had failed Jesus.   On top of their fear and disappointment, their conscience was guilty.  They had lost their self-respect.
            And, I suspect, there was a nagging feeling that Jesus had failed them and his promises were just empty words.  The dream he had given them “mocked them.”
            But they had learned one important lesson from Jesus–they needed each other–there was special strength, meaning in their being together.  So they came–except Thomas.
            There they are, now minus Judas and Thomas (what happened to Thomas?) and most importantly, Jesus.  How can they possibly make any sense of things?
            And then, JESUS WAS THERE.  Have any words ever carried such impact?–“Peace be with you.”  Leaving them no room  for doubt, he showed them his hands and his side, repeated those first words, and added–“As the Father has sent me so send I you.”
            Suddenly everything had changed.  He was saying to them:

I want you to know that whatever you have done and whatever you have been, I still trust you, and still believe in you; want you to take it in that God’s love is big enough to cover your case, your need, your sin; and God’s power strong enough to lift you up above all that. (Interpreter’s Bible).
            Don’t let your past get you down.  I have chosen you…receive the HS

            With that came power to do what they could not do…  ability to know what is wrong and right, when repentance is real or false.  Spiritual discernment given to the body of believers and the authority to declare it.
            Then John gives a dramatic illustration of how important the fellowship is in the story of Thomas.
            Some has called Thomas the courageous pessimist.  William Barclay says, “The Cross was only what he expected.”
            He made a serious mistake.  He withdrew from Christian fellowship and went to lick his wounds in private.
            It is a natural tendency when sorrow, or hurt, especially that connected to the fellowship which reminds us, to pull away.  And as a result, he missed Jesus.  Things happen in the fellowship which don’t happen alone (Barclay).  The shared experience of Jesus creates a fellowship which can not be understood by those who  have not experienced it.
            Thomas’ unbelief was really a lack of trust.  The word of the body should have been enough for him.  The final effect of not being “with them” is the erosion of trust.
            How important trust is in the church.  That doesn’t mean lack of accountability.  But he should have believed until he saw otherwise.  Adam Clarke said he was unreasonable, obstinate, and presumptuous.
            However, he had a saving virtue.  He would find out the truth, and when he knew it he would totally surrender.  So next Sunday he was there and he met the risen Christ.  But in Jesus’ mild reproof of Thomas, we are forever reminded that belief without sight—on word of those of the community is a higher spiritual plane than sight.
            And John closes this gospel on that note: “these are written that you might believe” Christ the Son of God and have life.

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