We read in John’s gospel the account of Jesus appearing to the disciples after his resurrection. Thomas does not believe them – he wants to see for himself or he will not believe – in fact more than that, he wants to thrust his hand into Jesus’ side!
Jesus appears to the disciples again, this time Thomas is present – Jesus makes him the offer, ‘put your hand here – see Thomas – it’s me!’ Then Jesus says,
stop doubting and believe
The word used here is ‘pistos’ there are variations on believe and believing, but this exact word, ‘pistos’ is used 33 times. In every other occurrence the word is translated, ‘faithful’. This is the only time it is translated, ‘believe’. I think right here is where we have a problem in grasping what is being said by Jesus. There is much more to this than simply, ‘here I am Thomas, you can believe I have been raised from the dead – I am right here!’ ‘Believe it’.
Believing it is only part of it . . . And translating this word here as ‘believe’ I think misses something . . . Something is required of Thomas. We have come to understand ‘believing’ something in quite a cerebral, intellectual way – we even list a load of those ‘beliefs’ when we say the creed.
There is more to being a follower of Christ than believing He was raised from the dead. Paul articulates it clearly in Romans Chapter 10 verse 9,
if you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
The ‘believe’ bit is there, Thomas now can be in no doubt that Jesus has risen from the dead – but he also, makes a declaration, like the one in this passage, Thomas says, ‘My Lord and My God’ – He acknowledges who Jesus is to him. Jesus is Thomas’ Lord, Jesus is Thomas’ God.
This is so important – it is this willingness to claim, to own, to witness who Jesus is to US that makes the difference. Believing in him requires action, requires commitment, this is about putting ones trust or faith in Jesus – this is what true believing is.
The thing is, if we actually TRUST Jesus with our lives – then everything changes. Acknowledging the truth of the creeds and the statements about Jesus . . . Believing them, is the beginning of our journey with Jesus. We must then let those things which are true and which we believe SHAPE our lives.
Jesus isn’t simply saying to Thomas, ‘will you believe I am raised’, he is asking him, ‘will you trust me Thomas? Will you be faithful to me? Will you let me be a Lord of your life and take it and mold it and shape it, will you be mine Thomas?’
Jesus asks the same of each of us today.