Friday, June 22, 2018

The Vision (6.22.18): Courageous Thomas

Image: Roses, North Garden, Virginia, June 2018

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 11:1-16.

Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him (John 11:16).

Thomas makes this declaration upon Jesus’s announcement that he plans to go to Bethany after Lazarus had died: “nevertheless let us go unto him” (v. 15).

The disciples had earlier registered their concerns about the dangers of such a journey: “Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?” (v. 8).

Now Thomas tells his fellowdisciples, “Let us go also, that we may die with him.” He recognized that this journey to Bethany might well mean not only the death of Christ but of his followers also.

There is something praiseworthy about Thomas’ words. He and the other disciples did go back with Jesus toward Jerusalem. There is something spiritually right about this. To follow Jesus one must be willing to lay down his life (cf. Luke 9:23-24; see esp. v. 24: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”).

Still, we know that there is also something gravely disappointing about it. Though Thomas promises loyalty to the death, he, and the other disciples, will all eventually desert the Lord Jesus when he goes to the cross. The shepherd will be struck and the sheep scattered (Matthew 26:31).

We might call the Thomas of John 11:16 “Courageous Thomas.”

But when Christ goes to the cross he will become “Fearful Thomas.”

Of course, he is best known as “Doubting Thomas,” because he will not believe that Christ has been raised from the dead: “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails…. I will not believe” (John 20:25).

Finally, by God’s grace, however, he become “Confessing Thomas” when he meets the risen Lord and confesses, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

There is something in the fickleness of Thomas and the other disciples with which every disciple can relate. Like Thomas we are sometimes, courageous, fearful, and doubting. But, by God’s grace, we are also confessing disciples, trusting the Lord to keep us in the faith.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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