I thank God for “Doubting Thomas”
We so easily put negative tags on people.
We’ve done that with one of Jesus’ disciples. We tag Thomas as “Doubting Thomas.” But Jesus didn’t tag him that way. Jesus didn’t mock Thomas or criticize him or shame him for his hesitancy to believe his friends’ report of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus treats Thomas’ hesitancy to believe with understanding, acceptance, and respect.
It all begins the day Jesus died. Apparently Thomas saw Jesus die, or he received reports about what happened to Jesus. He was keenly aware of the nails that were driven into Jesus’ hands and feet to impale to a cross. He knew that the centurion vouched for Jesus’ death but took the extra measure of driving a spear into His heart. He knew that Jesus was taken down from the cross, and that His lifeless body was wrapped in grave clothes and placed in a sealed tomb. He knew that Jesus was dead, and dead people do not come back to life. He was not about to be fooled by some mirage or by somebody’s wishful illusion. Thomas had lost too great a treasure when Jesus was killed, and he was not going to settle for some fairytale story of mystical new life.
He stated the obvious. He wouldn’t believe that Jesus had actually risen from the dead unless he could see with his own eyes the nail holes in Jesus’ hands, and unless he could touch with his own fingers the holes in Jesus’ hands and the hole in His side. Too much was at stake. He had to know for sure!
A week later, Thomas is with the other disciples when Jesus appears again. He greets them all with the words, “Peace be with you!” Then He says to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Jesus doesn’t strike Thomas down for doubting. Nor does He shame Thomas or cast him aside. Nor does He demand that Thomas believe without seeing. He graciously answers Thomas’ request; He shows Thomas the holes in His hands an in His side. Then He calls Thomas to make the move from doubt to belief.
I am so glad that John shares with us the story of Thomas.
If it wasn’t for Thomas, I would be left with the same questions and skepticism. But because of Thomas, I know that my objections have been adequately addressed. Because of Thomas, I can trust in the reliability of Jesus’ resurrection. And because of Thomas, I know that God will always deal with my questions in an understanding, gracious, and respectful way.
This leaves me with the freedom to doubt and to ask my questions, which, in turn, gives me the opportunity to genuinely believe, and to say, with Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” And it inspires me to seek to follow Christ as boldly as Thomas did. For in the years that followed, Thomas brought the good news about Jesus all the way to India, where he died as a martyr, knowing he could trust the resurrected Savior through this life and unto the life to come!