John 20:24-25 - Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came [after rising from the dead]. 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."
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
Doubting was not Thomas' primary problem. That he doubted wasn't the real issue. Whom he doubted was. In a world like this, breathtakingly beautiful, yet devastatingly broken by sin, I don't fault anyone for having doubts. People often cannot be depended upon. Leaders often seem to care more about power and politics and posturing than about doing the right deeds for the right reason. Those we love the most sometimes hurt us the worst. Nothing on earth can be counted on 100 percent. So, doubt isn't entirely misplaced. Doubting probably keeps us from being gullible and vulnerable to what seems too good to be true.
The promises of Jesus often seem too good to be true. He promises us peace that the world cannot give, peace that the chaos in the world can't chase away. He promises to take away sins that the world will not ever forgive. He promises life and love. So, if you doubt what God has done for you in Jesus Christ, your doubts are misplaced.
Martin Luther once quipped: For "although Christians continue to believe until they die, yet they often stumble and begin to doubt" (Luther's Works 54: 454). Being baptized does not mean you are no longer human; it does mean that, in the struggle of being all-too-human, you've been given a baptismal promise, a promise that engulfs your doubts in three splashes of water in the strong name of the Holy Trinity. Praise Jesus who says: "Do not disbelieve, but believe" (John 20:27b). Speaking life through Word and the Sacraments, the Holy Spirit creates and curates our faith.
In this life itself we will have trouble believing. "Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails," Thomas defiantly proclaims, unless I "place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe." Piercing the cloud of doubt, Jesus helps Thomas finally see the truth, and the doubter confesses the faith exuberantly: "JESUS: My Lord and my God" (John 20:28b). This same risen Lord walks victoriously right through our skepticism and cynicism and raises you and me from our sea of doubt.
WE PRAY: Jesus, I believe in You. Help me in my unbelief. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. John Nunes, guest speaker for The Lutheran Hour.
1. A thousand years ago, a church leader named Peter Abelard said that by doubting, Christians "are led to ask questions; and from this questioning we see the truth." Has this ever been true for you?
2. Read Mark 9:14-29. Have you ever prayed and prayed for the healing of someone you love, and finally, like the desperate dad, cried out with doubt "I believe, help my unbelief." (Mark 9:24b) What does Jesus do in response?
3. "The Holy Spirit is no skeptic," says Martin Luther—"... what he has written on our hearts," is "neither doubt nor mere opinion ... but his words on our hearts are more sure and certain than life itself." How does the Holy Spirit help us overcome our doubts?
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