The Disciple Who Doubted
Read John 20:24-25 (ESV)
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
What do you think about Thomas’ initial doubt? Can you relate to him? Why or why not?
If a good friend of yours died and was buried, you wouldn’t have much hope that you’d ever see him again. If your mutual friends came to you and said, “Look, we saw him! He really is alive!” Would you believe them without any evidence? I wouldn’t and I’d consider everyone who did believe their claims to be gullible. Maybe even stupid. I mean, on what basis would you believe that a friend rose from the dead? Not prior experience, that’s for sure. All of the people I know who have died are still dead, at least physically. So, if my friends told me that our once dead buddy was suddenly alive and well, I’d say, “Prove it. Show him to me.”
That’s why I always feel a little bad for Thomas, whose doubts about Jesus’ resurrection earned him the moniker “doubting Thomas.” He went down in history as the disciple who doubted. But really, didn’t all of them doubt at first? In the previous passage, we read that Jesus had to show all of the disciples who were hiding in a locked room the wounds on His hands and side so that they’d believe it was really Him and He was really alive. Thomas didn’t demand any more evidence than the evidence that they had already received. Plus, it was evidence that Jesus voluntarily gave to them.
Many people tend to think that Christians are gullible and believe in fairytales. They liken it to a small child blindly believing in Santa Claus. They think we Christians believe what we want to believe despite all evidence to the contrary.
But Christianity was never built on blind faith. It was built on evidence and eyewitnesses. Think about it. Why did Jesus perform miracles during his earthly ministry? Because the miracles were signs! They were the evidence that backed up Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God. John recorded Jesus’ first miracle in John 2. Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana. This is what John wrote about it: “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (v. 11). John dedicated his entire Gospel to providing evidence that Jesus is the Son of God so that many people would believe in Him (John 20:31).
Jesus didn’t ask His disciples to follow Him just because. He showed them His glory and they responded to the evidence with belief. Likewise, Jesus didn’t expect His disciples to believe in His resurrection without some proof. Instead, He provided physical evidence which the disciples responded to with faith.
Friends, if you have doubts like Thomas, that’s ok! Ask your questions. Search for answers. When Jesus’ disciples followed the evidence, all signs pointed to Jesus being the Risen Messiah, the Son of God. I have no doubt that if you diligently follow all of the evidence, you'll come to the same conclusion.
Lord, I confess that I have had my doubts. But in the end, all signs keep pointing back to You. Thank You for understanding my humanity. I believe. Please help my unbelief (Mark 9:24). Amen.
Reveal: Many people are unaware of all of the evidence that supports Jesus’ resurrection. Dedicate some time to learning some of this evidence so that you can be ready to reveal the truth of resurrection with someone who doubts. I recommend “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford