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Box up God

John 20:29 

     "29 Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed [are] those who have not seen and [yet] have believed.” 

We all know him as “doubting Thomas” and so he was. However, there are two points that must be examined before we excuse Thomas as a true disciple of Jesus Christ. 

    To begin, it is imperative that we have some context around our study verse. For brevity, let it suffice to say that Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room of Jerusalem {the same room they had eaten the “last supper”} but Thomas was not there at the time. Jesus declared peace to the disciples that were present and then He invited them to examine His hands and His side. {John 20:19-20}.

  It was this point precisely upon which Thomas based his doubts that Jesus had been seen by the disciples. He said something so simple, yet so profound in verse 25 when he said:

"Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 

  Thomas revealed the state of his mind and his heart in this moment. He would not believe unless certain criteria were met. Thomas wanted not only what the other disciples had experienced, he wanted more. To think about this scenario correctly is critical. Essentially what Thomas did was identify the exact parameters he had for receiving an answer to his prayer. Thomas, like all of the other disciples, desperately wanted to see the Lord resurrected but his natural mind could not grasp how this would ever be possible. So, as a way to give himself something “tangible” to grasp he spoke these guidelines out of his mouth. This is profound when we think in terms of how we receive the answers to our prayers. How many times have we vehemently desired to receive from the Lord, yet our minds restricted our ability to receive? My husband, Heath told God prior to the beginning of our relationship that for him to remarry, someone would have to be dropped in his proverbial lap because he was done looking and dating. Enter me! Heath set up parameters for his own prayer to be answered and it was answered almost precisely as he spoke it. Owing to the grace and mercy of the Father and of the savior, Jesus Christ, Thomas received what he said.  What Thomas spoke, however, came from his heart. It was his ardent belief that if he could have the criteria of “handling” the person of Christ in a way that was familiar to him, then his spirit  would have convinced his doubting mind the truth. This is how it is with us humans. We all want to “make sure” that it is God. If we hear something in our hearts or if we seek a particular direction for our lives, we place criteria on our prayers so that we too can convince our natural minds that it is indeed God with whom we are interacting. For instance, if we perceive that we need to change careers we might pray “Lord if it is you who I have heard then let me get an interview at so and so company.” 

    God is so wonderful that even when we place Him in these restrictive situations, He appeases our doubts by confirming His interactions with us in the method we request. Which brings us to our study verse itself and our second point.

    Jesus clearly stated that those who “have not seen” and still chose to believe are blessed.  The word blessed means happy and happier. I know of a man who was brought up in a denomination that did not believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit and then he himself became baptized in the Holy Spirit as an adult. He desperately wanted a vision, a dream, something that he felt would connect him with God on a deeper level. In his haste, however he did not wish to be “in sin” by attempting to “make God” do something. So, when he came upon John 20:29, he said to the Lord that he no longer desired to have visions or dreams because he wanted to be “blessed.”  I disagree with this prayer because he has now deliberately restricted himself from something the Lord said He would give in the last days {Acts 2:27}. This, in my opinion is not what the Lord was saying when He corrected Thomas. Instead, He was indicating that when you hear God or who you “think” is God; when you hear stories of God and things He has done; when you read the word and discover the wonder of our Lord, you would be more blessed and thereby happier if you simply acted on what you have heard or read for yourself. That is to say, if you heard that the Lord healed someone and you yourself needed healing, you would be more blessed and happy if you went to God and said “Lord since you show no favoritism and you healed so and so, I believe you have healed me too so I receive my healing too in the name of Jesus.” For example. 

    It is counterintuitive to just go about believing something that never actually happens. This is also God’s opinion because if it weren’t, then He would have just let Thomas never see His hands or His side, because after all, aren’t those who do not see blessed more than those who do? God was saying that it will get us further faster if we take what others have experienced with God or if we take what we hear and act on it than if we dictate limiting criteria to our answered prayers. 

    Doubting Thomas - or the twin as he is called- represents the real heart of unbelief. Unbelief is an act of the will and it is an indicator that the flesh, and not the spirit, of the man is in control of the man. 

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