“Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”” (John 20:24–25, ESV)
Thomas is quite emphatic against the continued insistence [“the other disciples kept on telling him” is probably a better translation] that they had seen the risen Lord. “I will never believe” is put in the strongest possible terms. Thomas is going to have some physical evidence of resurrection, or he for one, is not going to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. And that, dear reader, is a good thing for us.
We like to poke fun at Thomas and have even giving him the sobriquet “Doubting Thomas,” and we probably should not do so.
The disciples are together again exactly one week later [second Sunday after the resurrection] and this time Thomas is with them. John recounts what happens:
“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.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”” (John 20:26–27, ESV)
[Don’t miss the fact that Jesus somehow knows what Thomas said when arguing with the other disciples without Christ present]
Jesus invites Thomas to inspect the physical evidence of the resurrection. “Put your finger here, and see my hands, and put out your hand, and place it in my side.” Here was real, physical evidence that this Man who stood before Thomas was Jesus, the same one whom he had witnessed die on a cross a week and change before.
This is why we should be thanking Thomas. Men have, from that day to this, sought to discount the resurrection, by saying that Jesus just fainted, or that he rose in a spiritual form, but of course he did not rise from the dead in an actual body, everyone knows that can’t happen. Yet, here we have evidence of exactly that happening. Jesus rose from the dead in a real body, bearing the scar marks on his body that were made at the cross. Inconceivable.
Thomas’ response is the high point of confessions in all of the gospels:
“Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”” (John 20:28, ESV)
The one who need physical proof had that proof and he immediately proclaims Jesus to be both Lord and God, indeed Jesus is “My Lord and My God.” A stirring confession indeed.
Gerald Borchert comments: Thomas’s response forms the high point of confession in the Gospel. What it does is bring the Gospel full circle from the Prologue, where it is emphatically said that the “Word was God” (1:1) to this confession, “My Lord and my God.”
The Word who was God became flesh, and Thomas confesses that this Man standing before him, with the scars on his hands and feet and the mark of a spear in his side, is indeed God.