It is remarkable that one of the disciples should have been absent from the assembly on such an interesting occasion as the appearing of Christ in its midst after His resurrection (John 20). What was the cause of his absence would be worse than useless to conjecture. But the intention of Providence in it is obvious. It was to display the natural unbelief, as to the things of God that is in the heart of man; as to teach us the kind of evidence that God accounts sufficient for His saving truth. Why was one of the disciples absent? Why was this disciple, Thomas? God’s Providence intended to give us a specimen of unbelief even in His own people. Thomas was peculiarly incredulous, therefore he was the person fitted to act the part designed for him on this occasion. If Thomas was afterwards convinced, there is no room left for carelessness to allege that the disciples received the fact of Christ’s resurrection on slight grounds without sufficient evidence and caution.
The unbelief of Thomas was unreasonable and sinful in a degree beyond expression. Why did he not believe the united testimony of the other Apostles? He should have received the testimony of any one of them. Unbelief justly exposed him to eternal condemnation. Has Thomas a license for unbelief, more than any other of the human race? Must he not be liable to condemnation on the same ground with the rest of mankind? Must he be satisfied in his own whims with respect to the evidence of this fact? Can he say with innocence, “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe”? Did ever any infidel express a more unreasonable demand for the evidence of Christ’s resurrection, and the truth of the Christian religion? The demands of skeptics are moderate and sober, compared to this intemperance of unbelief. The most unreasonable of them demand only that a particular revelation of the Gospel should be made to every man.
But there is wisdom in this madness. If Thomas is unreasonable, God uses his unreasonableness to effect a great purpose. By this means, in the satisfaction given to Thomas, we have the fact of the resurrection established on evidence beyond all suspicion. The possibility of delusion is removed; and the reality that it was Jesus whom the Apostles saw, rests not merely on the testimony of their eyes, but of the hands of the most unreasonable unbeliever that ever was in the world.
John 20:29 reads thusly, “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”