Faithful Thomas

John 20:24-25 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.”  This morning I may step on the toes of many people who have read these verses or heard numerous sermons about the man who doubted our Lord and Savior.  Most of us have heard someone being called a “Doubting Thomas” for something they did not believe, but I think before we are so quick to label someone, we should know more about them.  Was Thomas deserving of the title?

We know he was one of the twelve disciples, Simon Peter, Andrew, James (the son of Zebedee), John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James (the son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, so we know he personally saw much of what Jesus had done.  He had spent years following Christ wherever He went, walking, talking, and learning thousands of lessons from His Savior.  He was a personal witness to untold miracles, so why would he doubt the resurrection?  To us, it would seem weird that after he saw the dead raised, evil spirits expelled, the lame walking, the blind gaining sight, and water turned into wine, he was shocked by the claim of his friends.

But, that was not the only time Thomas questioned something. As we read the words of John 14:2-6, we discover that this disciple of Jesus had done so in the past as well, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Did he doubt Jesus that time, or was his inquiring mind merely seeking clarification?”

There is one more set of verses I want us to look at.  When Jesus and His disciples received the message that Lazarus of the city of Bethany had died, they were concerned.  They were not welcome there, and the disciples were less than eager to go, even reminding the Master that the locals there wanted to stone Him.  After Jesus told them Lazarus had died, it was “doubting Thomas” who said in John 11:16, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”  Had it not been for the John 20:24-25 verses, he may well have had the honorable label, “Faithful Thomas.”  But again, was he a doubter or a skeptic?  Maybe he was one of those people who needed to see something with his own eyes before believing it.  As for that fateful day, remember, he was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them.  He was not just going to take their word for it.

John 20:26-27Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”  And for the record, Jesus did not call him a doubter.  It could be argued that Jesus was simply putting the disciple who always needed proof’s mind at ease.  We all know people like Thomas.  They are not necessarily doubters, but they are skeptical of anything they hear until they see the proof for themselves.  And what would our reaction have been if it were us?  Would we have believed the other disciples?

Thomas had seen Jesus do all those miracles, but remember, it was that same Jesus whom he had seen crucified and buried.  How would the one who raised the dead now raise himself when he is in the same state?  Moreover, why do we not call Peter a doubter when he tried to walk on water and failed, or when He denied Christ three times?  What of the disciples in Matt. 28:16-17, “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.”  So, is the label “doubting Thomas” fair or not?

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