Summary: if we are honest with ourselves, we are a lot more like Thomas than we want to admit. Thomas gives us some important lessons about what it means to have faith.
How to Survive Your Doubts
April 18, 2004
In a Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown is talking with Lucy as they walk home on the last day of school. Charlie Brown says to Lucy: “Lucy, I got straight A’s. isn’t that great!”
Lucy in her typical fashion shoots down poor Charlie Brown and says: I don’t believe you Charlie Brown. Unless you show me your report card, I cannot believe you.”
Can you relate to Lucy? Seeing is believing, isn’t it? Most people have to see something before they can believe it. My brother always used to tell me: don’t believe everything that you hear and only half of what you see. This is often how we describe the apostle Thomas but is this really accurate?
Let me ask you a few questions:
Have you ever felt like you missed something big that everyone else seemed to know? Have you ever felt like you were not spiritual enough because of your past failures?
Have you ever felt like you could really believe even more in Jesus if you could just catch a glimpse of Him?
If you have ever felt this or anything like this you would be in good company with Thomas.
24 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."
Thomas has been given a fairly difficult stereotype through the centuries because he so often is referred to as doubting Thomas but I do not believe that the title truly fits this man. So let’s take a few moments to clear the air and see what we really know about Thomas
What do we know about Thomas?
1. Thomas was likely a fisherman (John 21:2)
Thomas may have been a fisherman by trade, John includes Thomas with several other disciples who join Peter fishing all night. Now this was no casual fishing trip but rather it was a means of trade and income. In other words, it was work. It also makes sense that Thomas could have been a fisherman because many of the early followers of Jesus came from the area of the Sea of Galilee. Fishing would have been a major source of work in that area.
2. Thomas was a follower of Jesus (Luke 6:13-16)
Thomas was a disciple of Jesus from the earliest days of Jesus’ public ministry. We know this because it was one of the qualities used to replace Judas as an apostle in the book of Acts. Thomas had made a choice to follow Jesus and invested his life into seeking more and more of Jesus.
3. Thomas was an apostle (Luke 6:13-16)
Thomas was chosen by Jesus to be one of twelve leaders within the larger body of disciples. Thomas had become one of the core leaders and spent a great deal of time with Jesus.
4. Thomas was loyal and committed (John 11:16)
Jesus was facing increasing hostility from the religious leadership and as He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead there was great concern that there might be an attempt to kill Jesus. Look at the words Thomas uses when he talks with the other disciples: "Let us also go, that we may die with him." These do not sound like the words of a skeptic.
5. Thomas was confused (John 14:5)
As Jesus was preparing the disciples for His coming death and resurrection He told them that He was going to prepare a place for them and that they would know the way to where they were going. Thomas very clearly shows that he does not always understand what Jesus was teaching them. Look at what he says: "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
If Thomas was such a loyal follower of Jesus what happened to him? How did he go from follower to famous skeptic?
I. Thomas was in a downward spiral
Thomas had deserted Jesus