by: Gerrit Dawson, Senior Pastor
The biggest doubters make the strongest believers. That was certainly the case with one of Jesus’ disciples. The Bible calls him Thomas, but history has given him a second name, forever pasted to him-- Doubting Thomas. As it turns out, the guy known for not believing actually made the boldest confession about who Jesus is in the entire Bible. As we explore his story, maybe you’ll see yourself, and be encouraged. Doubts can lead to great faith.
On Easter morning, the risen Jesus met Mary in the garden. She ran and told the other disciples. But they had trouble believing the report that a man they had seen beaten, crucified, wrapped up in heavy burial cloths, and then sealed away in a tomb was now up and walking around. That doesn’t happen. So most of them just stayed inside, with the doors locked, grieving for Jesus.
Then, that evening, Jesus appeared inside the room. He showed them his wounds.. He really was alive again! The disciples’ sadness turned to joy. But Thomas had not been in the room when Jesus appeared. The other disciples told him the story, but he wasn’t buying it. He wanted proof. “Unless I see the marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, I will not believe it.”
Does that seem reasonable to you? After all, if Jesus is so great, why doesn’t he just show himself to me? Why doesn’t he just write his love across the sky for everyone to see if he really wants all people to know him? And while we’re at it, if Jesus is so loving, why is there so much suffering he doesn’t stop and sickness he doesn’t heal? If he’s real, I want to put my hands on him.
A week later, Jesus again appeared inside a room with locked doors. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he looked right at Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe!”
Thomas received just what he asked for—a personal appearance by the risen Christ. It’s interesting that we never know whether Thomas actually touched Jesus or not. John’s gospel doesn’t tell us. We just hear Thomas cry out, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus blew away his doubts with his presence.
What does this mean for our doubts? Should we hold out until Jesus shows up one night in our room? It could be a long wait. We get a clue, though, from Jesus. He told Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” It’s as if Jesus turned to a camera and spoke to all of us in the coming years who would have to believe without seeing. Our link to Jesus is through Doubting Thomas who became Believing Thomas.
Thomas is our man on the scene. He represents all of us who will never have a direct, physical encounter with Jesus in this lifetime. So when Jesus came to Thomas, it’s as if he said, “O.K. I’m going to show myself to this one guy who wasn’t there, so you can all know that what my witnesses say is the truth. I’m really who I say I am.”
It’s OK to doubt. In fact, getting to know God means lots of questions. We hold these up to God boldly. Then we make sure we’re like Thomas—we don’t get stuck in our doubts but are ready to cry out when Jesus makes himself real to us, “My Lord and my God!”