Evening Reading for December 12

John 20:24-29
Suggested further reading: Psalm 8

To come into the world at all, and take a body on him, to allow that body to be scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed to the cross and laid in the grave — all this, beyond doubt, was astonishing condescension. But when the victory over sin and death was won, and he had taken on him his resurrection body, to come to a doubting, sceptical disciple and bid him touch him, put his finger into the nail-prints on his hands and put his hand into the great wound in his side — all this was a condescension which we can never sufficiently admire and adore.

The last sentence of the verse is a rebuke and an exhortation at the same time. It would have been more literally rendered, `Be not an unbeliever, but a believer.' It is not merely a reproof to Thomas for his scepticism on this particular occasion, but an urgent counsel to be of a more believing turn of mind for time to come: `Shake off this habit of doubting, questioning and discrediting everyone. Give up thine unbelieving disposition. Become more willing to believe and trust and give credit to testimony for time to come.' No doubt the primary object of the sentence was to correct and chastise Thomas for his sceptical declaration on the preceding Sunday. But I believe our Lord had in view the further object of correcting Thomas's whole character and directing his attention to his besetting sin. How many there are among us who ought to take to themselves our Lord's words! How faithless we often are and how slow to believe!

Let us not fail to observe our Lord's perfect knowledge of all that passed on the previous Sunday, of all that the apostles had said and of the sceptical declaration which Thomas had made.

Let us observe our Lord's thorough acquaintance with the special faults and besetting sins of every one of his people. He saw that Thomas's defect was his unbelief and so he says, `Be not faithless, but believing.'

For meditation: Although God is almighty and sovereign, he condescends to meet men at the place of their need.

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