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 (Manna 62: The Miracles of Jesus)
From Seeing to Believing
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Learning from the Sign Jesus Did Before Thomas

Stephen Ku—Pacifica, California, USA

         And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (Jn 20:26-29)

“Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25).

Thomas was certainly not afraid to speak his mind, even when he was the lone minority.

The other ten disciples had just seen their teacher and risen Lord, who had died a gruesome death and came into their midst through closed doors. He showed them His pierced hands and side and breathed on them, giving them the promise of the Holy Spirit (Jn 20:19-23).

The greatest miracle had happened before their eyes, turning their fear to joy. And seeing their resurrected Lord revived their lost hope in Him.

Thomas had missed this historic moment. They told him in excitement, “We have seen the Lord!” But the unanimous witness of his peers did not persuade him one bit. In his heart, Jesus was dead. As far as he was concerned, all that he had once hoped for in Jesus was now over. Nothing could arouse his faith anymore.

Perhaps this was what went through his mind:

You saw the Lord?

No. You were seeing things because you were so desperate to find something to calm your fears.

You saw Jesus’ hands and side?

Did you actually touch them to see if they were real?

No. You have all been tricked by your own imagination.

For Thomas, the only way to prove himself wrong was for him not only to see the nail prints on Jesus’ hands but also to put his finger into the print and his hand into His side. Thomas was sure that his demand was an impossible one. Whatever the other disciples saw simply was not true. End of discussion.

Seeing Inspires Faith

“My Lord and my God!”

Now imagine the Thomas who professed these words of utter surrender. What wrought the total change of attitude in him was a sign—a sign that Jesus did specifically for him. Jesus came through closed doors, appeared before Thomas’ eyes, spoke with him, and offered to let him verify that He was real.

In the Gospel according to John, signs play a crucial role in Jesus’ works. Before the multitudes and the disciples, Jesus did many signs (Jn 7:31, 12:37, 20:30).

Right after the account of Jesus’ appearance to Thomas, the Scripture tells us, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book” (Jn 20:30). This indicates that what Jesus did in the foregoing account was a sign.

A sign, by definition, is a distinguishing mark that points to something beyond itself. By means of some extraordinary occurrence, signs visibly reveal Jesus’ identity as the Christ, the Son of God.

The ultimate purpose of Jesus’ signs, according to John, is so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and “that believing [we] may have eternal life in His name” (Jn 20:31). The signs that Jesus performed were not only a show of divine power, but served to lead the people to believe that He is the Savior of the world, the true answer to our problems.

By feeding the multitude with only five loaves and two fish, Jesus revealed that He is the bread of life from heaven. By healing the man blind from birth, Jesus showed that He is the light of the world. By raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus demonstrated that He is the resurrection and the life.

Therefore, miraculous signs play a necessary part in the proclamation of the gospel. Even today, God continues to bear witness to us with signs, wonders, and miracles (Heb 2:4). Through these acts of God, we may come to have saving faith in the Lord Jesus.

My Lord and My God

When we experience a miracle, especially when God does it for us personally, we find ourselves in the presence of the almighty yet loving God. We stand in awe, humbled and moved, at a loss for words.

This was what happened to Thomas. No more verbose claims. Only a cry of faith: “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus knew what Thomas needed, and so He acted to meet that need. In fact, He also has a lesson to teach us, the readers. He could have waited until all eleven of the disciples were together, but He chose to appear to them when Thomas was absent.

He heard Thomas’ words to the other disciples. Eight days later, while Thomas was with the rest, Jesus appeared again, especially for him. What Jesus asked Thomas to do was exactly according to the impossible terms Thomas had laid down—to put his finger into His hands and to put his hand into His side.

Thomas did not even have to touch Jesus’ hands and side before He professed His faith in the risen Christ. Jesus had shown him beyond a doubt that He was alive. Even more importantly, Jesus cared enough to manifest Himself again solely for him.

Jesus never performed a sign just to satisfy an unbeliever’s demand (Mt 12:38, 39; Jn 2:18-22), and He was in no way obligated to convince Thomas of His resurrection. But Jesus did not give up on Thomas. He was aware of Thomas’ character—that he would not buy into anything easily, especially something of such magnitude.

He also knows about the Thomas within each of us. The Thomas who had once left everything to follow the Lord and had now forsaken his faith. Jesus, out of His love for Thomas, made a point to restore his lost faith.

Whether we are able to believe and trust in our Lord matters a great deal to Him. How many times has God gone out of His way to seek us when we were lost? Even when we have given up on Him, He never gives up on us. In some miraculous way, He touches our lives and shows us that He still cares. At that moment, we are caught in wonder and a sense of worthlessness.

All we can say in our stupor is “My Lord and my God!” God is no longer the God of other Christians or of our family members. He becomes our very own. This personal encounter with the Lord is what is most precious about miracles. It is not the vision, the healing, or the deliverance from danger. But it is coming face to face with our Lord and our God through the power and kindness He has shown us.

Such personal encounters with God tend to stay with us for the rest of our lives. Even in moments of doubt, we can recall them and renew our faith again.

Seeing AND believing

Seeing is believing, as the saying goes. This world has taught us to only believe something when we have proof in our hands. Who would put money down for a house without any signed legal documents? Which top university would grant you admissions simply because you claim to qualify?

We have all learned to be skeptical until we see proof. After all, how can we know what is true or false without some clear evidence?

God knows that in a world of mistrust, we are no longer able to believe in the truth without any convincing proof (Jn 4:48). For this reason, Jesus not only taught the people the truth about God and His salvation, He also worked miracles, wonders, and signs among the people (Acts 2:22).

In doing so, He manifested His glory, demonstrating that the Father was at work in Him and that He was indeed one with the Father (Jn 2:11, 10:37, 38). Thus, Jesus’ signs were an integral part of His ministry.

If signs were so important, was it wrong for Thomas to ask for a sign to show that Jesus had indeed resurrected? And for that matter, is it really wrong for us to ask to see before we believe?

Jesus said to Thomas, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn 20:29). It appears as if Jesus expects us to believe in Him without any visible proof. It also seems that Jesus was dismissing the importance of signs and miracles. But this is not so.

Bear in mind that Jesus had already appeared to the other ten disciples. He showed them His hands and His side. Even when Jesus appeared especially to Thomas eight days later, the other disciples were also present to witness this sign. Thomas was not the only disciple who believed only upon seeing. So the problem does not lie in seeing miracles.

In fact, the Bible tells us that after Jesus had risen from the dead, He presented Himself alive to the apostles “by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:2, 3). If the Lord expects faith without any proof or sight, He would not have performed so many signs and produced all the infallible proofs before His disciples.

What, then, was wrong with Thomas’ attitude? Let us think about his ultimatum again: “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.” He was not seeking a sign as much as to assert his staunch unbelief.

Using the strongest form of negation,1 Thomas insisted that He would not believe except under the conditions he set forth. Elsewhere in the NKJV, the double negative is usually translated as “by no means” or “never.” In other words, Thomas was saying, “Unless I can authenticate things my way, I will never believe!” Perhaps the expression “doubting Thomas” is not nearly as accurate as “unbelieving Thomas.”

Jesus’ final command to Thomas was this: “Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (Jn 20:29). Jesus was not only instructing him to believe for the moment that Jesus was indeed alive. Thomas had fallen into a state of unbelief, and he chose to remain so unless he was proven wrong.

The adjective “unbelieving” is also translated as “faithless” (cf. Mt 17:17). Elsewhere in the Bible, this word applies only to unbelievers. This was the condition Thomas had put himself in—he had become an unbeliever. Jesus, out of His compassion, lifted Thomas out of his unbelief.

By placing terms and conditions on faith, Thomas had placed a limit on God. He would only believe that Jesus had resurrected if those terms and conditions were met. This was an indication of his state of unbelief.


According to the Lord Jesus, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. These are people who trust in the Lord without placing any conditions on God. That includes us, the readers, who put our faith in the risen Christ without having seen Him with our eyes. As Jesus’ disciples, we should no longer resort to the mentality of “seeing is believing.”

While Jesus has allowed us to see His glory through signs, miracles, and wonders, He does not want us to make them a condition for faith. Seeing may lead to faith, but faith should not depend on seeing.

Our Lord wants us to go on from seeing to believing—to continue believing even in the absence of miracles. Can you picture a relationship in which one has to keep producing proofs to earn the other’s trust? This is surely not the kind of relationship we want to have with our Lord.

God may do wonders in our lives and before our eyes, but only according to His sovereign will and according to His timetable, not ours. Unlike scientific experiments, miracles are not for us to use at our disposal to verify God’s words. Instead, they are out of God’s mercy toward us, and we are humbled at the sight of God’s glory.

Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Our journey to our eternal home does not depend on sight. Signs and miracles would benefit us only if we come to Christ as a result and believe in Him as our Lord and our God. Once we have established this personal and trusting relationship with God, it is faith that will take us to the end.

Through His miraculous appearance, Jesus became to Thomas his Lord and his God. Thomas had now grown beyond sight and was no longer dependent on sight. We likewise have claimed Jesus as “my Lord and my God.” Let us not become hardened in our hearts but walk daily by faith until the day we see Him as He is.



1 The double negative οὐ μὴ is the most decisive way of negating something in the future.


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Author: Stephen Ku