Are You Thomas or Peter?
by Xiaojie, Henan Province
After being nailed to the cross and being resurrected, the appeared to the disciples for 40 days. During that time, various little things happened between the Lord Jesus and the disciples, for example: the Lord ate bread with the disciples, ate fish and explained the Scriptures. … But during this time, the Lord Jesus spoke different words to Peter and Thomas, but seldom can we find the deeper meaning within this. What intentions of God on earth are hidden in these words to them? These are worth pondering carefully.
From the Bible, we can see that a disciple did not believe the Lord Jesus’ resurrection until he saw the resurrected Lord with his own eyes and touched the Lord Jesus’ nail marks with his own hands. The person was Thomas. What did the Lord Jesus say to Thomas after His resurrection? The Lord Jesus said: “because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (Jhn 20:29). Before, I only understood the literal meaning of the Lord Jesus’ words. However, I did not know God’s hidden will. Until seeing such a paragraph of God’s words, I gradually understand His will. God says: “Before the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross, Thomas always doubted that He is , and could not believe it. His belief in God was established only on the basis of what he could see with his own eyes, what he could touch with his own hands. The Lord Jesus had a good understanding of the faith of this type of person. They only believed in God in heaven, and did not believe at all, and would not accept the One sent by God, or the Christ in the flesh. In order to have him acknowledge and believe in the existence of the Lord Jesus and that He truly was God incarnate, He allowed Thomas to reach out his hand and touch His rib. … The Lord Jesus’ appearance and His words provided a conclusion, and a verdict on the faith of those who were full of doubts. He used His actual words and actions to tell the doubters, to tell those who only believed in God in heaven but did not believe in Christ: God did not commend their belief, nor did He commend their following which was full of doubts. The day they fully believed in God and Christ could only be the day that God completed His great work. Of course, that day was also the day that their doubt received a verdict. Their attitude toward Christ determined their fate, and their stubborn doubt meant their faith gained them no results, and their rigidness meant their hopes were in vain. Because their belief in God in heaven was fed on illusions, and their doubt toward Christ was actually their true attitude toward God, even though they touched the nail marks on the Lord Jesus’ body, their faith was still useless and their outcome could only be described as beating the wind—in vain. …
“… Thomas represents a type of person who believes in God yet doubts God. They are of a suspicious nature, have sinister hearts, are treacherous, and do not believe in the things that God can complete. They do not ’s omnipotence and His rule, and they don’t believe in God incarnate. However, the Lord Jesus’ resurrection was a slap in the face to them, and it also provided them with an opportunity to discover their own doubt, to recognize their own doubt, and to acknowledge their own treachery, thus truly believing in the existence and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. What happened with Thomas was a warning and a caution for later generations so that more people could warn themselves not to be doubting like Thomas, and if they were, they would sink into the darkness. If you follow God, but just like Thomas, you always want to touch the Lord’s rib and feel His nail marks to confirm, to verify, to speculate on whether or not God exists, God will forsake you. So, the Lord Jesus requires people to not be like Thomas, only believing what they can see with their own eyes, but to be a pure, honest person, to not harbor doubts toward God, but only believe in and follow Him. This type of person is blessed. This is a very small requirement the Lord Jesus has for people, and a warning for His followers” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III”).
I realized from God’s words that although Thomas believed in the Lord Jesus, saw Him perform so many miracles and listened to His many sermons, he doubted in his heart all along whether the Lord Jesus is incarnated God. Especially after the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross, Thomas’ doubts were completely exposed. It was fully revealed that he was an unbeliever who followed Christ but not believed in Him. After Thomas reached out his hand and touched the Lord Jesus’ nail marks, although he believed that the resurrected Lord Jesus was Christ, he had been condemned by God. God’s words already demonstrated clearly that He did not praise Thomas’ belief or acknowledge him being His follower. God came among the disciples and spoke these words to Thomas first, which was a judgment to him and also to the people like Thomas. They believed in the Lord Jesus in word, but doubted the Lord Jesus’ identity all the time in their hearts. They still believed in God in heaven and in their own conceptions and imaginations. Neither did they believe in Christ coming to the world, nor did they believe incarnated God had such authority and power. They could only be abandoned and eliminated by God if they continued with such manner of faith. At the same time, I understand that God hopes us not to be suspicious and base our faith in the Christ on the viewpoint of seeing with our own eyes, but to know incarnated God’s true identity and ascertain God’s appearance and work through Christ’s work and words. At this point, I thought: How many believers believe in God with their true hearts? How many believers believe in a vague God? They only acknowledge God in heaven and believe that God in heaven is filled with might, and full of authority and power. But they are full of doubts about the God on earth and the God incarnate. They did not believe the incarnate God has the authority and the ability, and can accomplish everything. The Lord Jesus warned Thomas, also actually warned us how to treat the facts of God incarnate? Is our faith in God full of doubts like Thomas? These questions about believing in God, which we should be completely clear on, are indeed worth reflecting deeply.
After His resurrection, apart from saying to Thomas, the Lord Jesus still made demands and commissions to Peter. The Lord Jesus said to Peter on more than one occasion, “Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? …” We have no choice but to reflect: Why did the Lord ask Peter the question many times, but not ask other disciples? Why did the Lord speak the words completely different to Peter or Thomas? What’s on earth the deep meaning here? What did the Lord want to tell us from these words the Lord said to Peter? I saw God’s word saying, “Compared to ‘reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing,’ which the Lord Jesus said to Thomas after His resurrection, His three times of questioning Peter: ‘Simon, son of Jonas, love you me?’ allow people to better feel the sternness of the Lord Jesus’ attitude, and the urgency He felt during His questioning. … This was a thought-provoking, meaningful question that can’t help but make every follower of Christ feel remorse, and fear, but also feel the Lord Jesus’ anxious, sorrowful mood. And when they are in great pain and suffering, they are more able to understand the Lord ’s concern and His care; they realize His earnest teaching and strict requirements of pure, honest people. The Lord Jesus’ question allows people to feel that the Lord’s expectations of people revealed in these simple words are not merely to believe in and follow Him, but to achieve having love, loving your Lord, loving your God. This kind of love is caring and obeying. It is humans living for God, dying for God, dedicating everything to God, and expending and giving everything for God. This kind of love is also giving God comfort, allowing Him to enjoy witness, and allowing Him to be at rest. It is mankind’s repayment to God, their responsibility, obligation and duty, and it is a way that mankind must follow for their entire lives. These three questions were a requirement and an exhortation the Lord Jesus made of Peter and all people who would be made perfect. It was these three questions that led and motivated Peter to complete his path in life, and it was the questions at the Lord Jesus’ parting that led Peter to start on his path of being made perfect, that led him, because of his love for the Lord, to care for the Lord’s heart, to obey the Lord, to offer comfort to the Lord, and to offer up his whole life and his whole being because of this love” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III”).
I know from God’s words that the reason why the Lord asked Peter the question is that He had expectations and commissions of Peter, and Peter was an honest and innocent person, unlike Thomas who was full of doubts to the incarnate God. Peter paid more attention to listening to the words of the Lord Jesus all along, practicing and experiencing His words. He denied the Lord three times, but the Lord Jesus knew it was temporary weakness of his flesh and did not represent his nature like Thomas doubting God. God sympathized with his weakness and did not condemn him. The conversation between the Lord Jesus and Peter after His resurrection showed God’s expectation of people loving God like Peter. God would like to let him know that do not be satisfied with following God, suffering and spending. More importantly, in the process of following God, he needed to pursue to love God, bear testimony to God and walk in God’s way for life so that can be carried out on him. Only this is the duty that should be performed as a creature. Peter was very inspired by the commissions from the Lord Jesus, deeply felt God’s earnest intentions, and understood his responsibility and duty. Afterward, Peter took the Lord Jesus’ commissions as his duty, pursued the goal of satisfying the Lord’s demands, and offered up his whole being to undergo countless trials and refinement for life and all manner of suffering. At last, he was nailed upside down on the cross for the Lord and bore a wonderful testimony of the supreme love of God and obedience unto death, becoming the one who is most deserving of God’s approval throughout the ages and an exemplar for the people of the future.
Seeing God’s expectation of Peter and condemnation of Thomas, we should make a right choice. Do you want to believe in a vague God in heaven like Thomas being full of doubts about the practical God incarnate, or like Peter being an innocent and honest person that will practice and enter when listening to God’s words, follow God faithfully, love and satisfy God, carry out God’s will with whole heart and mind for our lifelong pursuit? Which type of person do you want to be?