Now Thomas (also known as Twin), 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.”
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.” –John 20:24-29
You may have heard the expression, “Glass half full” or “Glass half empty.” The expression means that if you fill up a glass halfway, there are two kinds of people: the kind of people who see the glass as half empty (which means they focus on the bad side of things, how the glass is missing water), or half full (which means they focus on the good side of things, how the glass has water in it). Optimists are people who tend to focus on the good side of things. Pessimists are people who tend to focus on the bad side of things.
Remember Thomas, from when we met Jesus’ twelve disciples? Thomas was a pessimist, which meant that he was always quick to see the bad side of things. He usually assumed that things would go wrong, and was the last person to believe good news. He was sort of like Eeyore, from Winne the Pooh—“It’s probably going to rain today,” Eeyore would always say gloomily. Thomas was the Eeyore of the group.
Once, Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, which was sort of dangerous because all the Pharisees there wanted him dead. All of the disciples were nervous about going to Jerusalem, and it was Thomas who spoke up first. “Well, we might as well go die with him, I suppose.” Spoken like a true pessimist.
Later, at Jesus’ final dinner with his disciples, he was telling them how he would soon be going to heaven to prepare an everlasting home for them. “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going,” Jesus said.
Thomas didn’t understand what in the world Jesus was talking about, so he whined, “Lord, we don’t even know where you’re going. So how in the world would we know how to get there?”
Yep, Thomas was a pessimist all right. But Jesus loves pessimists (and optimists and every other kind of sinner, too). So when Jesus rose back to life, he had a special plan for Thomas.
The first time Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, Thomas wasn’t there. So the next time they saw Thomas, they all told him excitedly, “Jesus is alive! We’ve seen him with our own eyes!”
What do you think Thomas thought? Do you think he quickly believed the good news, and got excited and happy that Jesus was alive?
Nope. Good ol’ Eeyore Thomas had a hard time believing good news. “Unless I see the nail marks with my own eyes, and touch him with my own hands, I’ll never believe,” Thomas said grumpily.
A week later, all the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. And suddenly, there was Jesus! Everyone else was happy, but Thomas’ jaw dropped open.
Jesus smiled gently at Thomas. “You wanted to see and touch? Okay, here I am. Touch the nail marks in my hands. Touch the wound in my side. Stop doubting, and trust me.”
Thomas fell to his knees. “My Lord and my God!” he said with wide-eyed wonder.
And when Thomas got up off his knees, he was a different person. No longer was the cup half-empty. And it wasn’t hall-full either. For the rest of his life, Thomas would eagerly tell everyone he met that, in the words of Psalm 23, “My cup overflows!” Jesus’ resurrection changed everything—it meant everything Jesus said was true, and every one of God’s promises was real, and that sin and death were beaten, and that there was hope and joy and strength for the future no matter what happened. Jesus’ resurrection changed everything, and that changed Thomas too.