Between Doubt and Faith

I think that the apostle Thomas just needed a better publicist. OK, so he struggled a bit with believing that the resurrection of Jesus had really happened. He wasn't there the first time Jesus appeared to the apostles, and  when they told him “We have seen the Lord,” he was a little skeptical.  OK, he was a lot skeptical, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25). So we call him “Doubting Thomas.” We use his name to chide people anytime they are skeptical about anything, “The Redskins are going to be good this year; don’t be such a Doubting Thomas.”

Doubting Thomas? Remember when Jesus decides to return to Bethany after the death of Lazarus? Some of the apostles pointed out to Jesus that this might not be such a good strategic move, “A short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” (John 11:8). When Jesus insists on making the dangerous trip, it was “Doubting Thomas” who speaks up and says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16). That doesn’t sound like doubt, does it?

And really, can we BLAME Thomas for being skeptical about the resurrection? After all, how do we respond to people (usually interviewed in those supermarket tabloids) who claim to have seen Elvis down at the 7-11 buying a Slurpee? Didn’t Jesus himself warn the apostles about false claims about people seeing Him? (See Matt 24:4). And don’t forget-- Peter and ALL the apostles doubted when the women first came to them with the report of the empty tomb, “But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 24:11). No one calls Peter “Doubting Peter.” But here Thomas does what all the rest of the apostle did when told about the resurrection, and he is forever known as “Doubting Thomas.”

The story of Thomas in John 20 doesn’t end with his doubt-- it ends with his faith. Jesus appears and offers “Doubting Thomas” exactly what he had said he wanted—“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27). We don't know if he really put his fingers in the scars, but he did believe.  The last words recorded from Thomas in scripture are these, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). The strongest and clearest words of worship and praise given to Jesus from human lips in all of scripture comes from the man we call “Doubting Thomas.” Yep, he needed a better publicist.

The power of the resurrection transformed “Doubting Thomas” in “Worshipping Thomas.” And that power of the resurrection can transform us as well. The resurrection is not just a doctrine to believe, it is the source of power in our spiritual lives. Paul said, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” The same power that raised Jesus from the dead also gives us spiritual life and eternal life forever.