Tag Archives: Doubting Thomas

Appearing to the Doubter

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He is famous for his absence; his lack of presence is what left his watermark in history. We don’t know why he was absent. He may have been too fearful to leave his home, or he may have been so discouraged by current events and the political climate that he just stayed away. We don’t know why he wasn’t there, but many are glad he stayed away. Many are glad this man was absent on the evening of Jesus’ appearance.

Their gladness does not come because he missed Jesus. Their gladness comes in knowing when he heard about Jesus’ appearance, he had his doubts about a resurrected Savior. John 20 says, “One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

The disciples kept telling Thomas they had seen the risen Lord, but Thomas can’t wrap his mind around it. We don’t know why he doubted; a few weeks earlier he was ready to lead the disciples as Jesus went to raise Lazarus from the grave. In that moment his courage and boldness for the Lord shined brightly, but here, Thomas has some unanswered questions and doubts. This may sound familiar to you.

In fact, it might describe you. Your courage and boldness for the Lord may have shined brightly in the past, but now, you have a few questions and some doubts. So, your glad Thomas was absent. His absence helps us understand how the Lord will respond to our questions and our doubts.

Jesus does not leave Thomas hanging in the balance filled with doubt. Notice what happens starting in John 20:26, “Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” It’s as if Jesus was there when Thomas expressed his doubts to the other disciples, and comes saying, “Hey Thomas, here I am. Here’s my hands. Here’s my feet. Let me put your hand in my side.” Jesus does not leave Thomas sitting in his doubts. He comes offering an invitation of help.

Jesus comes offering us the same invitation of assistance. He does not leave us hanging in the balance filled with doubts. Jesus offers us the opportunity to look back at how he has helped us in the past. He offers us the historical evidence of an empty tomb. We can visit the tomb and find that it is empty.

Because of an empty tomb, you and I do not have to smother in moments of doubt. Jesus helps us renew our hope and our certainty through his resurrection. Doubts may come, but they will not cause Jesus to run. He responds to us with an invitation of help just like he gave Thomas. Jesus will not leave us alone in our doubts.

How Does the Lord Respond to Doubt?

Jesus responds with grace and compassion.

Experiencing doubts in one’s faith journey can seem lonely. The one having doubts may feel he or she is the only one having questions. However, approximately 2/3 of Christians experience doubts at some point. And, this is not a new experience in the 21st Century. It has been occurring since the 1st Century; Jesus’ first followers had doubts.

The Bible records John the Baptist experiencing doubts. On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, many of his disciples had doubts, and Jesus responded with grace and compassion.

He responded the same way to Thomas, who can be classified as the most famous of doubters. John 20:24-29 tells us Thomas was not present the first time Jesus appears to the disciples, and when they report the news to him, Thomas just cannot wrap his mind around it.

Verse 25 says, “But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail scars in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

Thomas is like most Christians. He experienced a season of doubt, and Jesus responded with grace and compassion.

John’s Gospel goes on in verse 26: “A week later the disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though 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. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.”

It is as if Jesus was in the room a week earlier when Thomas expressed his doubt, and Jesus responds compassionately and graciously.

The final statement Jesus makes to Thomas in this moment is, “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:26). The IVP Commentary Series states another way to think of Jesus’ words is, “Stop becoming unbelieving and become believing again.” Our Christian life is a journey of faith and seasons of doubt come, but when they do, Jesus responds with compassion and grace.

If you are going through a season of doubt, you are not alone. Many Christians have asked questions and sought answers. Most respondents stated their faith was stronger after going through a season of doubt.

The Lord knows seasons of doubt come in life, and he responds with grace and compassion. Challenge your doubts by asking questions and seeking answers.