Stop Doubting and Believe

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 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.”

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!”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.”
(John 20:24-25)

“After all, the case of Thomas is not an uncommon one. Some people are so strangely constituted that they distrust everybody, regard all men as liars, and will believe nothing except they can see it all, and work it all out for themselves. They have a rooted dislike to receive anything on trust, or from the testimony of others, and must always go over the ground for themselves. In people of this kind, though they know it not, there is often a vast amount of latent pride and self-conceit; and it is almost ludicrous to observe how entirely they forget that the business of daily life could never go on, if we were always doubting everything which we could not see for ourselves. Nevertheless they exist in the Church, and always will exist; and the case of Thomas shows what trouble they bring on themselves.”
-John Charles Ryle
Ever had hope turn cynically skeptical? What was banked on when hope birthed in the heart, what was perhaps believed to be a given, in a swift blinking of an eye becomes dashed to pieces without even a shard of hope remaining.

Thomas–one of the Lord’s close-knit group of twelve–had been absent on Christ’s first appearance to His disciples. Excitedly and overwhelmingly amazed, those present told him they had seen the Lord!

We have no idea why Thomas was not with the others when Jesus came–we only know that he missed out on the blessing. And as a result he felt shut out and empty in the cold chill of unbelief while the others were warmed and filled.

Refusing to believe what the other disciples testify with great assurance to him; refusing to remember Jesus’ own words to him before His crucifixion; refusing to listen to those who have no purpose in deceiving him, Thomas passionately declares that he will not believe unless he himself touches the Lord’s body. He ties his faith to the physical evidence that must be touched by his hands and seen with his eyes. Thomas’ case demonstrates how grief and doubt can influence us to say things of which later we may be deeply ashamed.

And yet, Jesus lovingly and graciously acquiesces to the skeptical demands of the Thomas. We see Jesus oh so gently strengthening a man’s doubting, weak faith, kindly allowing even His wounds to be poked and prodded in order for this friend to believe. Jesus appears to the disciples for the express purpose of convincing and satisfying the mind of Thomas. Thomas, the doubter, who had recklessly spouted his faith could only be had by sight and touch.

Jesus timed His visit when not one of the Apostles was missing. He was completely aware of those who had secretly assembled behind that locked door. He knew not one of them was absent and He times His appearance accordingly. Our Lord’s eye is forever upon His children! I am thankful for David’s encouraging words:

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry.
(Psalm 34:15)

We are also told in 2 Chronicles:

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Out of the deepest love and concern for him, Jesus desires freedom for Thomas. Freedom from his persistent doubting. Freedom from his questioning. Freedom from his discrediting of his friends. Remember, Thomas was the one in bondage; the other disciples had been strengthened in their faith, they were joyful and free. Jesus wanted this apostle as well. He wanted Thomas’ unbelieving disposition gone–for his own good and for God’s great glory.

Take It to Heart

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” (Hebrews 11:1-2)