First Then I Met Him

Once, in a men’s Bible class, we were discussing the topic of a personal relationship with God. One of the men shared with the group that he had been born and brought up in the church, and he knew the Bible stories in the New Testament very well. He felt that he had a basic understanding of the life of Christ. One day he went to a marriage retreat with his wife. While there he first met Christ.

One of the men in our Bible class asked him how did it felt when he met Christ, and what did he mean?

“Until then,” he said, “I knew Jesus intellectually as the Savior and Lord of the world. However, at that marriage retreat, the Holy Spirit opened my heart, and He came in to live there. Now I know him spiritually. He is always with me as we walk through life. He forgives me when I sin, directs me when I am confused, and encourages me when I am disturbed. He is my personal friend. I talk to Him many times during the day, and He speaks to me through His Word. He also gives me the assurance of my salvation.”

This is also what happened in Thomas’ life. I am glad that Thomas was one of the Lord’s disciples, for he demonstrates not only what many of us are, but what we can become when Christ gets hold of us.

Thomas had his doubts. That is reflected in our text. He was not with the other disciples when Jesus paid them a visit. However, when he returned, the other disciples were anxious to tell him that they had seen the Lord.

Thomas’ response disappointed them when he said, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my fingers where the nails were, I will not believe it.”

A week later the disciples were in the house again, and this time Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Thomas, put your fingers here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Then Thomas said, “My Lord and my God.”

And Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you believe; blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe.”

First Thomas met Jesus and his life was changed. Now he was ready to serve his Lord. Prior to that point, Thomas knew about it. He had walked with Jesus as a faithful disciple and he loved Jesus. But he had now met Him to the point that Christ lived in his heart, and he knew what the Lord was talking about when He said, “I forgive your sins.”

Now Thomas had a measure to share with other people. Tradition tells us that Thomas went on to share the Good News in India.

Isn’t this a picture of many of us? Our church includes many people who know Jesus intellectually but really haven’t met Him. They love their church and are active in its work. They give of their time and talent just as Thomas did, but before them is that time when they can say, “First now I know him.”

As we grow in knowing people, so we grow in knowing Jesus.

This is Mother’s Day, and we think of just a few of the great mothers of history who had met the Savior: John Mark’s mother who led her son to know Jesus; Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s grandmother and mother; Monica who introduced her son, Augustine, to the Lord and then became one of the three great church fathers. And we do not forget our great mothers of today who are leading their sons and daughters to Christ. Every congregation has many of these people.

Can you point to a time in your life when you can say, “It was during those days (or weeks or months or even years) that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through His Word and my life was warmed and changed as Christ took up residence in my heart”?