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The most famous doubter of all time is Thomas. Through history Judas has been the only disciple criticized more than Thomas. Tradition has given him a new name: "Doubting Thomas." He wanted proof that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.

But can you blame him? When the resurrected Christ appeared to some of his disciples, Thomas was not there. Can you imagine seeing someone die, knowing he was buried, and then hearing from friends that they had seen him alive? You might feel sympathetic toward them, expecting them to get over it in time. If they keep telling you on and on and on, you might feel a need to confront them. That was the situation for Thomas.

In recent years, many Christians have been more sympathetic to Thomas. They have recognized that if they had been in the same position they may have had the same doubts. In his position, I have almost no doubt that I would have been a doubter. My nickname might have become, "Doubting Mark."

Devotional writer Selwyn Hughes wrote "Those who doubt most, and yet strive to overcome their doubts, turn out to be some of Christ's strongest disciples." Thomas was transformed, saying, "My lord and my God!" That does not hit us as powerfully as it would hit the original disciples. Before that day, they called Jesus rabbi, meaning teacher. They called him Christ, meaning the anointed one. The called him the son of the living God. No one, before Thomas, had called Jesus, "God." Jewish leaders would not have hesitated to pass the death sentence on Thomas for blasphemy. It was an incredible and dangerous thing to say.

The Bible says that the one who had been most honest about his doubts was the first to call Jesus, "God." There are traditions that say he was the disciple who traveled furthest to tell others about Christ. Tradition teaches that he proclaimed the gospel in Babylon, Persia, and all the way to India. There are Christian churches in southern India claiming to trace their heritage to Thomas.

Three weeks ago, a Christian from India shared a testimony with us. He was introduced as "Andrew," then asked his last name. He answered, "Thomas." People were not expecting that. His family name can probably be traced back to the British colonial period. But maybe, just maybe, his name predates the British presence by more than a dozen centuries. Maybe one of his ancestors, with a Hindu name, became a Christian under the ministry of Thomas and changed his Hindu name in honor of the first Christian he had ever met. Maybe.

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