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It's Not Only Thomas

April 7, 2024 - A message from a member of Red Church

John 20:19-31

Our gospel reading today describes Jesus’ first post resurrection appearance to His disciples.  Last week, on Easter Sunday, we read the verses right before this passage that described how Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb.   Mary then went and told the disciples what she saw.  She was the first eyewitness of the resurrected Jesus.

When Jesus came and stood among the disciples in the locked room, He showed them His scars.  They, like Mary, became eyewitnesses of the resurrection.  And, like Mary, the next thing they did was tell someone what they saw - in this case, Thomas.

So how does Thomas react to this news? Verse 25 tells us what he said - “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

So, as a result of this statement, Thomas got a nickname  - anyone know what it is?  Doubting Thomas.  But let's read a passage from Mark’s gospel - (Read Mark 16:9-14)

Given what we know from Mark, is it really fair that Thomas gets the nickname?  None of the disciples believed until they saw for themselves.

Have you ever had a critical attitude toward “doubting Thomas”?  We like to think that wewould not have reacted to the news of Jesus’ resurrection in such a way.  We think we have it all together.  But - we don’t.  I am reminded of Peter saying to Jesus - “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Mark 14:31) - And as we know, a few hours later, Peter denied Jesus 3 times.  He had the best of intentions, but he buckled under pressure and fear.  The same thing happens to us when it comes to our faith.  Sometime we let our doubts overpower our faith.

I’m not necessarily suggesting that we doubt that Jesus died in our place, or that we doubt His resurrection.  But we do struggle with doubt when it comes to God’s word.

What can we do about it?

Let’s go back to Thomas’ story. Again, he said in verse 25 - “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”   It seems to me that Thomas made a decision and chose to not believe.  In verse 27 - Jesus tells Thomas - “do not doubt, but believe.”   This reminds me of what Paul says in II Cor.. 5:7 - “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  We must make the choice to step out in faith - to be bold in our faith, and not give in to doubt or fear.  We must make the decision to put our full trust in God.

The Christian life is a journey - and until we get to heaven, we will never learn everything there is to know, we will never gain complete spiritual maturity and we will never get rid of all doubt.  In light of the fact that all of the disciples had their doubts when Mary told them about Jesus’ resurrection, we can look at the story of Thomas and instead of criticizing him, we can take an honest look at ourselves and recognize that we, too, have our doubts.  But faith and doubt can certainly co-exist, and doubt can actually help us to grow in our faith.  Doubt prompts us to look for answers.  And the process of seeking those answers can help build our faith.  The more we learn about God and trust Him, and experience and recognize His work in our lives, the less likely we will be to give in to doubt and the more easily we will be able to walk by faith and not by sight.

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