No one ever claimed Thomas was the life of the party. As sort of a glass-half-empty type of person, Thomas was the consummate pessimist.
And who could blame him? He left the security of a steady job at the fishery and went on a three-year journey thinking this Jesus person was going to change everything. No more Roman rule! Yippee! We’re free!
But then the unthinkable happened. Jesus went and got himself charged, convicted and crucified. And all of Thomas’ hopes and dreams died with him. He’s in shock and disbelief. His world has fallen apart and he’s so disillusioned that he won’t even meet with his buddies for an evening meal. But something happened at that evening meal that changed the course of history. A risen-from-the-dead JC appeared to his Apostles behind locked doors, just in time for dinner. Sort of gives new meaning to the phrase, Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner, doesn’t it.
But when told about the unexpected dinner guest, Thomas would have none of it. He simply can’t get over what he saw with his own eyes. After all, he saw his Lord die; saw him buried; saw the stone rolled in place at the tomb entrance and sealed. There is no way what they were telling him could be true. Simply. No. Way. In fact, Thomas is so sure of himself that he throws down an ultimatum and says he won’t believe until he can see the nail marks with his own eyes. Thomas is a very visual learner.
A week later, as Doubting Thomas is back dining with his buddies in that same locked room, it happened again. In the middle of dinner, Jesus appears….this time specifically for Thomas’ benefit. But does JC chastise him for his unbelief? Does he criticize or berate him? No. He simply holds out his hands for Thomas to see and touch the nail marks. As Thomas dissolves in tears and crumbles to the floor, Jesus says to him, Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. ~John 20:26-29
But did Thomas’ doubt have a purpose? He followed Jesus for two years and, as part of his inner circle, he was as close to him as a brother. Perhaps his doubt is not a lack of faith, but of a need to have faith based on facts, not myth.
Christians are expected to have faith in the sovereign power of God, but I’m not sure God expects us to have blind faith…to have faith without true understanding. While Jesus said blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed, I have a hard time thinking we’re not suppose to use our powers of reasoning and think through a situation when we find ourselves in doubt. When faced with those situations, we need to remember God’s nature as a faithful God; remember His promises; and then act accordingly.
Thomas did use his reasoning, but forgot the promises. Only when he was presented with undeniable proof, did it all begin to click.
It’s said that after that encounter Thomas covered a lot of ground in his ministry to spread the Gospel. As an eye-witness to both the dead and resurrected Jesus, he traveled the area known today as Iraq, Iran and India and established many Christian churches.
Throughout Scripture, we find that reasoning, wisdom, and logic are regarded as good gifts. We’re created with the ability to think and reason, and are encouraged to learn and discover truths. Time after time, Jesus rebukes those who refuse to grow in their knowledge and understanding.
There are times in our lives when we need to rely on faith because we can’t see the the whole picture. But during these times our faith is far from blind. It’s a faith based on what we can see of the nature of God’s character, and remembering the promises he’s made throughout the centuries.
Perhaps that is the lesson we should learn from Thomas and his temporary doubt.
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