Missing In Action

Sunday, April 7, 2013
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John 20:24-29 – Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though 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; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (NIV)

Some time ago, my husband served as the pastor of a quaint little church in our home state of Pennsylvania, USA. Often, he spent hours putting together creative sermons using a unique blend of biblical and contemporary language. Although I enjoyed all his messages, a few of them made long-lasting impressions, including one in particular entitled "Missing in Action". This sermon raised some thought-provoking questions regarding Thomas' absence from the scene of today's gospel narrative.

Still contemplating the significance of Thomas' role in the resurrection story, the following is a short version of my perspective on the events which took place:

    Why was Thomas absent from the upper room on the first evening of Jesus' resurrection? Perhaps he had family obligations or was delayed somewhere by no fault of his own. Yet, I think the most logical explanation was his state of mind: mourning the loss of his Saviour, he simply preferred to be alone. In any case, Thomas missed the blessing of seeing the risen Lord.

    Why did Thomas reject the testimony of the other disciples? Conceivably, he wondered why his Master had not appeared to him also; after all, wasn't he just as important as the others? Thus, a troubled spirit may have led to doubt and resentment.

    What does Thomas' testimony mean for believers today? I think that God in all His wisdom allowed Thomas to be missing in action for a divine purpose. When he was finally confronted with tangible evidence that Jesus was alive, Thomas immediately responded by boldly proclaiming, "My Lord and my God!" Interestingly, he was the first apostle to fully and openly declare Christ's divinity, a testimony for future generations. Moreover, I have no doubt that the Lord has used this occasion to encourage uncounted millions who have never seen Him physically.

Therefore, I conclude that Jesus used the example of Thomas to reveal a greater truth; however, it is up to us to respond in faith. Then, with our eyes unveiled, we can truly say, believing is seeing.

So how about you? Are you missing in action? Or have you seen the risen Lord today?

Prayer: Lord, help us through eyes of faith to see the nail prints in Your hands and the wound in Your side. In Your great mercy, forgive us for the times when we have failed to believe Your Word, missing opportunities to do Your will. Like Thomas, renew our lives with the hope and power of Your resurrection. Give us the courage to bear witness to the truth, as we seek to walk in the path of everlasting life. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Lori Ciccanti <dlalsina@mchsi.com>
Ocean View, Delaware, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you Lori.

    Thanks Lori (or to your husband rather) for the interesting insights.

    Thank you, so well written. I always love to read your devotionals.

    A thoughtful devotional. I get daily directions from Him which usually changes my plans for the day and it is wise to act on.

    Just read your devotional and the story of Thomas is real to all of us. We have all experienced a battle with our faith from time to time and your prayer is right on the mark.

    Dearest Lori,
    I had no idea your husband was a pastor. What better person as a pastor’s wife than Lori. Lori, you are truly God’s messenger. Your friendship and encouragement has been a blessing in many ways. Thank you for your kindness.

    Dear Lori,
    Good thought. One that I have thought about Thomas myself in the past, and determined that I would not require to see Jesus in person. However, I may have had mixed motives for my reasoning!
    Amen to your prayer!

    Dear Lori,
    I have always loved the statement that Jesus gave to Thomas:
    “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (NIV) What a blessed remark: we are given a special place in the heart and mind of our Lord. Thank you so much for giving us another thought-provoking devotional.

    Thanks Lori for this timely devotional. This very subject is the theme of our service today. Our vicar has asked some of us to do a 200 word presentation of what the story of Thomas means to us. My 200 words end with this question:
    How long will it be before Christ’s resurrection life is evident in you and me. Is Christ really alive in us?

    Thanks for this perspective on Thomas which added to the one we heard at church this morning. He’s always held a special place in my heart since it was to Thomas that Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (NIV) For those who believe today without seeing, or feeling, or touching the Risen Jesus, those words affirm their faith. Yes, blessed are they who believe. Blessed are those who embrace our Risen Lord’s nail scarred feet and shout, “Because He lives, I too shall live, even though death attempts to do its worst!” Blessings.

    This is very good; I heard the Gospel today in church.
    No doubt Our Lord wanted to use Thomas as an example for us, the later generations.
    To the phrase “My Lord and My God”, I have added the word “Be”.
    Christ, Be my Lord and My God.
    For Thomas and for us, this is a two way street. Christ asks us to follow Him and we keep asking Him to turn around from time to time and make sure we are not falling behind.
    God bless & keep ’em coming!

    Good Morning Lori:
    Greetings and Blessings in the name of Jesus, our RISEN Lord and Saviour.
    I greatly enjoyed your devotional, and I can certainly have apprecioation for your ‘arguments’ (theories) about Thomas Dydimus. Perhaps he did not go to the upper room, because he could not conceive the “impossible”. He may have assumed that Jesus was, indeed, dead. That being the case, the adventure was over, and would soon be forgotten. So, why bother? But after he heard other ‘eye witness’ accounts that Jesus WAS INDEED alive, curiosity got the better of him, and he determined to find out for himself. Hence he was there the second time, and did indeed find out!
    This brings me to another subject that intrigues me. I am a professional artist (nature work mostly, but some portraiture). As such, I have done some considerable studies in art history, including first century art. There are many pictures and sculptures of important people from that period, but there is not ONE SINGLE WORK of any kind depicting Jesus, THE most important person of ALL time. So, every single portrayal of Jesus, even including the Cistine Chapel Ceiling by Michaelangelo is only his impression of what Jesus might have looked like.
    So, I will not know what Jesus really looks like, until the day He judges me for my sins.
    (Northern Ontario)

    Thanks Lori — really good, eye opening points about Thomas.

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