Summary: How to face and defeat doubt.
Dealing with Doubt
Series: A Journey with Jesus (through the Gospel of John)
Brad Bailey – May 8, 2011
Today we engage a topic that is rarely discussed… and in part because we feel it is dangerous… deeply dangerous. The topic is DOUBT. As we’ll see, doubt does not need to be the unspoken dark work that we often fear it is. As someone described…
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
(Philip K. Dick, science fiction author, writer of the summer blockbuster Minority Report)
As we continue in our series A Journey with Jesus through the Gospel of John, we have just engaged the first appearance of Jesus appearing to his disciples after his resurrection. They were together in a room in fear of what the religious leaders might do to them… and Jesus suddenly appears. But as we’ll see… one of those twelve disciples wasn’t there.
Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "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 it." 26 A week later his 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!" 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." 28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." 30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Ever not made it to a gathering or event… and realized you missed something extraordinary… or maybe arrived late and just missed something exceptional. We hear those dreaded words: “You REALLLLLLY missed it.”
As John writes in the first statement of our text…
“Now Thomas (called Didymus) one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.”
Thomas… one of the twelve…called Didymus which simply means ‘twin’ and if he was a literal twin we don’t know with who else… what we do know is that Thomas had reeeeeealy missed it. Stepped out at the wrong time.
Well…because of his response to what they told him….he would become known across many cultures… as ‘doubting Thomas.’ His name is simply synonymous with doubt. All you have to do is pick up a Webster’s Dictionary and there it is. Actually, it is in two places: under “d” for doubt and under “t” for Thomas.
He is singled him out as having an inferior faith because he actually expressed his doubt in the resurrection. He made his reservations known out-loud. And because of that he has the dubious distinction of being the poster child for doubt…for skepticism. (Drawn & Adapted from William Nickles)
But if we stand back, I think we we’ll see that we make a mistake by singling out Thomas. He’s not so different from any of us.
Put yourself in Thomas’ shoes for a minute. The belief in some form of resurrection was always about some potential future period of time… no one considered Jesus rising now as a sign of what was already at hand.
He had watched at least part of how Jesus was killed in the most devastating and definitive manner… how he was buried. He was at the funeral… if one could call it that. It was more devastating than any funeral we could imagine… because every hope was buried with it. Three long years of being a 24/7 team to change the world were now left with something that seemed far worse than if they never had happened. All they were proud of… now looks like it had been in vain… the team that was sure to win… had just lost.
So when he shows up and his friends say they had seen Jesus… it’s a hope that he’s not going to accept. He would have to have something more personal before he can put his trust into such a reality.
Yes… he is doubting. But let’s be clear about the nature of such doubt.
He is not doubting Jesus at this point…but rather he simply doubts what his friends have told him.