Summary: A sermon adapted from an IVP Bible Study by C. Nystrom
THOMAS: THE DISCIPLE OF DOUBT
JOHN 14:1-7; 20:19-31
OPENING ILLUSTRATION… Doubts with us
Have you ever experienced this? It often descends one day like a big dark cloud. The nagging questions started to surface and play around in the back of our minds. Then they all just clumped together into one big doubt. Maybe Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead. Maybe it was all a skillful hoax on the part of 11 men from Galilee.
We pray. We read the Bible. We talk with believing friends. We read books about the resurrection and Jesus’ life. The doubt remains. Some friends seem to understand the doubt while others are shocked that you have it at all. This isn’t some game—its real doubt. In the end, the doubts often settle and our faith is strengthened for having faced it and overcome. Have you ever experienced this? Someone has. Let’s learn from them.
READ JOHN 14:1-7; 20:19-31
In this passage we are presented with a man who came face to face with his doubt. In addition, this was not just some man, but an actual disciple of Jesus, one who spent his time with Jesus. This man had doubt. As we look at Thomas, we will find him in different places in his walk. First, we find the questioning Thomas. Second, we find the doubting Thomas. Third, we find the believing Thomas.
I. THE QUESTIONING THOMAS (14:1-7)
We first find Thomas, with Jesus and the other disciples, preparing for the week of
Passover. I don’t think any of the disciples had a clue that Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and death was only one day away. John chapter 14 begins His last major-recorded conversation with His disciples. Jesus was teaching them about the future. Jesus was telling them about what He would be doing in heaven after His time on earth was done. He commanded them to not let themselves be troubled. Troubling times were ahead and all they need do is trust in Jesus. He let them know that He was going to be with the Heavenly Father to prepare for the day when they would join Him. Really, the disciples were puzzled and were not sure what Jesus was talking about.
One of them, Thomas, voiced his questioning, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going so how can we know the way?” He was never a man to just take things at face value or to just sit and be satisfied with not knowing. He knew that Jesus did not mind their questions. He just didn’t quite get it. How does it fit, if I know the way to somewhere, but I don’t know where that somewhere is? He racked his brain, but decided just to ask Jesus. And this was truly a valuable thing for Thomas and the other disciples. Questions often bring valuable answers to strengthen our faith.
Jesus responded to Thomas, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus was the answer to all their questions. He came so they would be able to reach God and be with Him. Others still had questions, but not Thomas. He understood Jesus’ words now. Life in Jesus was the key to it all. Jesus would make the path to God and all he need do is follow Jesus. He did know the way. He did know the place.
At this point in his walk, we find Thomas a learning disciple. He had questions about what Jesus was saying—he asked them, thought about them, and learned about what Jesus was saying. Its ok to question to find answers to what we are looking for. Most times we can search the Scriptures and pray and we find our answers and our faith is strengthened.
II. THE DOUBTING THOMAS (20:24-25)
Jesus did in fact die the next day. He was buried on that Friday in the tomb of Joseph
of Arimathea. John chapter 20 records for us the events that happened three days later on Sunday. The disciples were together on this Sunday. In fact, they were in a locked room for fear that the Jews may come to arrest them or harm them in some way. All of a sudden, Jesus was among them. How did He get in? Is it really Him? Wow. Jesus came among them and simply said, “Peace be with you.” He came to see them. He had risen from the dead, victorious over sin, and was now visiting those who had followed Him for so long. They saw Him and were not just full of joy, but overjoyed at seeing the Lord.
But they were not all there. Where was Thomas? He was not there at this time, but apparently came at a later time or the next day. “We have seen the Lord,” they told him, but he did not believe them. I must see Him myself. I must see the nail marks as you all did; then I will believe He has risen. Why did he doubt? The others didn’t doubt why did he? The text says that it was a week later before they were all together again. I wonder how the ten other disciples spent their week? I wonder how Thomas spent his week? I am sure that the ten had a great week filled with joy and hope and grand expectations. Thomas’ week I think would have been a little different—filled with questions without answers, wondering, and hopelessness. I guess we really don’t know why Thomas doubted. The Bible doesn’t tell us. So, let’s think why we doubt. Perhaps some of the reasons we doubt were some of the same as Thomas’.