How a doubting Thomas believed

On Sunday night, ten disciples were gathered in a room.

Okay, there may have been more than ten, but only ten of The Twelve were there. Judas was dead.  Thomas simply wasn’t present.

It was a gathering of uncertainty. The door was locked. The disciples had heard that Jesus was alive, but weren’t sure what that meant. And they were trusting more in locks than in stories that night.

Suddenly there was another person in the room. Jesus said, “Peace.” Jesus held out his hands. Jesus pointed to his side. The disciples were thrilled.

Sometime during the next few days, the ten tell Thomas, “you should have been there! We saw Jesus! He’s alive!”

And Thomas, with the words everyone thinks should go on his tombstone, says, “Unless I see his hands and touch his hands and side, I won’t believe what you are saying.”

And we talk about doubting Thomas. And we get frustrated with the people around us who aren’t as spiritually trusting as we are, as jumping up and down happy to believe as we are.

But wait a minute.

What was Thomas asking for, other than what the other disciples had already seen? And who was Thomas talking to, other than guys who had wanted to hold back when Thomas followed Jesus into danger at Lazarus’ tomb?

Be honest. You would have been skeptical of Peter, too.

The real measure of Thomas is not his honest skepticism about seemingly unreliable witnesses. The real measure is that, when given the kind of evidence he said he wanted, evidence provided more in Jesus’ words that showed Thomas’ heart than in the actually touching, Thomas acknowledged who Jesus was.

An honest skeptic can see evidence. Thomas, seeing, believed. Still others, believing, see.

A professional skeptic, however, often won’t look.

This was first posted April 9, 2009.

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6 thoughts on “How a doubting Thomas believed

  1. josephruizjr

    Jon, thanks for the skeptic distinction. I think there is an important role healthy skepticisim, perhaps it’s part of a believer’s journey – better to be a skeptic open to discovery than just accepting a “script” better to struggle to understand that just going along. I believe my walk could benefit by more probing, questioning, exploring – in the past I thought that was the path to disbelief – I have been gradually rethinking that position. Appreciate the word Jon.
    Grace and Peace.

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  2. Frank Reed

    Jon –

    I have a special place for Thomas since my son carries the same name. He was not named for the Thomas of the Bible but rather as a measure of respect for my grandfather.

    So why is he special? Because his treatment by the other disciples mirrors how the world reacts to honest questions and transparency. It doesn’t like it when you don’t trust them but rather you trust the Lord.

    Thomas’ proclamation of “My Lord and my God!” was a more sincere and meaningful expression of what he now knew to be true than any of the others could put together. Heck, if they knew so much, were so confident and emboldened for the Lord after seeing Him appear out of nowhere a week prior (without Thomas being present), why were they still holed up in the same place? They saw but they didn’t believe since they were still fearful and cowering in a locked room rather than following Jesus.

    Sure, Thomas doubted but Jesus is bigger than that. We should be too and welcome the seeking skeptic as one who will truly on the Lord’s side once having his/her questions answered sincerely, openly and without judgment.

    Thanks for helping me to think this AM, Jon.

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  3. Rich Dixon

    I love questions. I’m suspicious of those who never ask them (or won’t admit it) and are intolerant of those who do. Maybe we ought to call him “believing Thomas.”

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  4. Jill

    Natalie is in full blown Christine mode these days…and asking questions…you know, the tough ones…because she’s sharing her faith, and the modern day doubters are challenging her.

    I sit there thinking…this is what I wanted. This is the place I desperately longed for her to be in, to want to know about her faith, to want to know why and how and why not. To grow closer in her relationship with her Savior. And I think…can’t someone else do this?

    I forget, sometimes, how hard it can be to believe. When you feel you have to question EVERYTHING related to faith…and the things you cannot see. I forget, sometimes, what it’s like to feel the need to defend God’s existence instead of accept it. In all my complexity, I am really very simple when it comes to faith, and while that may be enough to be in relationship with Christ, it doesn’t seem to be enough for a 16 year old girl to explain to her doubting friends.

    Last night, when we were having our conversation, I thought about Thomas and his questions. And then here you post about it. Good timing at it’s finest…hmmm almost like a God thing.

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    1. Jon Swanson

      Sometimes what her doubting friends may need is not answers as much as not having the questions dismissed. And keeping the conversation going. That’s hard. But that’s how love is evident.

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