Updated: Jul 18, 2018
How many of us remember the faces of our children when we stood with arms outstretched, perhaps under a high limb where they had climbed too far or maybe out from the side of a swimming pool, and we said these words: “Go ahead and jump son. Daddy will catch you.”? You may even remember your own thoughts, fear and reluctance when hearing these words from your parents.
Regardless of who it is telling us to trust them absolutely with our family, future, finances and especially with our life, it is difficult for us to put our faith in their ability or competence to deliver on their promise. When everything is at stake, we either have to be desperate, having no other choice, or we have to be willing to trust and believe that they will absolutely do what they say they will do.
I write this article just three days after Easter, when I was reminded and able to better appreciate the doubting of Thomas. If you remember, Thomas was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. Even though he had forsaken all and walked with Jesus for three years and had seen Him perform many, many miraculous signs and wonders (to include raising others from the dead), Thomas refused to believe the news of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead until he could touch His wounds for himself. “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.” (Jn 20:25). Thomas had to know for a fact that the One for whom he would devote his life and would one day end up giving his own life, but who had been dead for three days, was indeed alive again.
When we think back to our own thoughts, doubts and fears when we were told to just trust and jump, we are better able to understand the doubts and fears of Thomas. We want to believe, we want more than anything else to get into the water, but what if Daddy doesn’t catch us? What if he accidently drops or misses us? What if it is just a trick? We slowly approach the side of the pool. We stretch out our arms. We lean waaaay over, but at the last minute we jump back and whine for daddy to come closer. It is one thing to believe intellectually, but it is quite another to trust absolutely!
Thomas has long before professed his belief that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the One who was to be the Savior of the world. He had even left all he had to follow Him, but all those hopes and beliefs had died with Jesus.
Scripture tells us that on several occasions Jesus taught the disciples, including Thomas, that He would be arrested and crucified, but would rise again: “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again” (MK 8:31). Thomas had believed in his head, but believing in his heart was a different matter.
This is a critically important distinction, because Romans 10:9-10 says: “If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” It does not take much faith or trust to believe intellectually that Jesus is Lord, but it does take faith to believe in your heart—because believing in your heart demands faith and trust that leads to action and obedience, even when you do not see the whole picture. Jesus told Thomas: "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."(Jn 20:29).
This distinction is also made in Old Testament history when God used Moses to deliver Israel from Egyptian slavery. The people saw all the plagues God brought on Egypt to secure their freedom. They experienced his leading them through the wilderness with pillars of fire by night and pillars of smoke by day. They saw Him part the Red Sea so they could escape Pharaoh’s army on dry ground. They witnessed His miraculous deliverance on a daily basis, but when it came time for them to “jump in” and face the giants and trust Him to save them, they reacted just like Thomas and just like we did when daddy told us to jump in the pool and trust him. They refused to believe from the heart with faith that led to obedience, and as a result, they died in the wilderness without ever entering the Promised Land that God had given them.
Jesus has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. He has proven His love by giving His life for ours. Praise the Lord that He conquered death, sin’s greatest penalty, so that we too can have eternal life. Thank God for Thomas who saw and touched His wounds to prove that Jesus is indeed alive. Hundreds of people witnessed Him alive after Thomas did and I too can tell you that I am a witness that He is indeed alive. I have met Him. I haven’t touched Him, but He has touched me! He has forgiven my sins and given me eternal life. He has proven His love and faithfulness time and time again. Several times He has asked me to jump--every time He has been faithful. He is risen! He is alive!
You can believe in Him intellectually, but you can never know Him as Lord until you believe in your heart and know Him experientially, which is faith that leads to obedience. He loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. He is calling out for you to come to Him! Will you trust Him?