Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries
“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”
Monday, August 8, 2016
Noticeable by Absence
Still reeling from the events of Jesus’ death, His disciples gathered secretly in a private home. On the evening of the first day of the week, doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus appeared to them (John 20:19). They needed comfort desperately and Jesus had come to meet their needs. One of them, however, was missing – the disciple Thomas. His absence was not an accident and has many implications, which provide important lessons for Christ followers.
Thomas was one of the remaining eleven disciples, loyal and true, unlike the betrayer Judas. Yet, on this evening, he was apart from the other disciples during one of their most frightening hours. They were assembled to comfort and support each other after their monumental loss and needed every man to share in the grief. By his failure to join them, Thomas was notable by his absence.
It is hard to imagine the events or reasons that separated Thomas from his brethren and their gathering. After spending more than three years with his LORD, day and night, he had been cut off suddenly from Him due to His death. One would expect Thomas to be compelled to remain as close to his brothers in Christ as possible during this time of sadness and grief. And yet, we are told explicitly he was elsewhere (John 20:24).
His absence was unusual according to the cultural norms of the time. The death of the king in those days brought the country to a standstill, causing people to flock together to share their grief. How much more should this apply to Christ the King! Still, Thomas was in absentia.
Furthermore, after the death of a family member, as Jesus certainly was, it is normal for other family members to put down all other business and to attend the more important matters at hand. One of these obligations is to assist others in dealing with the grief they all experience. Had Thomas been ill, we might expect mention of his malady along with the notation of others who attended him during this time. Perhaps it was his inability to deal with the overwhelming grief that prompted him to remain in isolation.
Thomas’ absence may have even been sin. If he were distracted by other business or by company he preferred over this opportunity, he surely would have shown his preference for things of this world over the riches Christ had to offer. Or, perhaps he was afraid of the Jews who were out to get the disciples of Jesus Christ. If this is the case, he only showed cowardice and a lack of faith in his LORD, which would also be attributable to him as sin.
To be charitable, it may have been divine in its origin. Without him being missing, we may not have had the story of “Doubting Thomas”. Whatever the reason, it had consequences. Thomas missed the opportunity to see his Master at a time when he needed Him most. Surely the sight of Jesus would have brought comfort to him as it did to the other disciples. He missed out on sharing the joy and satisfaction of seeing his Master risen, a blessing savored by the other disciples.
Those who carelessly make themselves absent from Christian assemblies often know not what they lose. In Thomas’ case, it was the return of his Master, although by Christ’s mercy and grace, Thomas was given another chance to see Him. We, however, may not always be so fortunate and should take every opportunity to be part of Christian fellowship. Are you taking the opportunities God gives you to enjoy fellowship with others in Christ?
Jesus Christ reveals Himself to us in many ways and in many places. He is there when we attend church, when we visit the sick, when we donate our time and money sacrificially, and any time we participate in Christian fellowship. We need not attend every opportunity, but we should consider carefully the consequences of the missed blessing if we cavalierly dismiss a chance to enjoy fellowship with other Christians. Participants will find you noticeable in your absence, but more importantly, Jesus will too.
Thomas teaches us why it is not normal to be apart from Christ and other believers, especially in times of crisis. Don’t diminish your joy in Him and the blessings and comfort only He can bring by being noticeable in your absence.
A servant of Jesus Christ
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