The Easter Difference – Thomas: Doubt

“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

– John 11:1-16

“Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although 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, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ ‘

– John 20:24-29

Is there a nickname that you’d like to leave behind but others seem to remind you of at every chance?

I can’t help but wonder how Thomas would feel knowing that he’s forever been attached to the nickname “doubting.” It’s almost become a part of his name; Doubting Thomas.

Yet in the earlier account we hear that Thomas wasn’t merely a doubter, but he was bold and brave. “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Thomas didn’t say this lightly. He knew full well that going to Judea could certainly mean death for all of them, yet he was willing to go and die with Jesus.

But after the crucifixion Thomas seemed to have lost his fire. That bravery and boldness seem to have been wrenched right out of Thomas. He’s now timid and afraid. He doubted. He disbelieved.

Though Jesus was risen, Thomas didn’t believe it.

Until the resurrected Jesus appeared and changed everything.

According to tradition, “Doubting” Thomas boldly went to India and was the first to bring the gospel to the people living there. He fearlessly went forth so that others could know the resurrected Jesus to and be set free from doubt and disbelief.

Now we can’t prove that Thomas brought the gospel to India and was martyred there, but we do know that the power of resurrection does set people free from doubt and disbelieve. We do know that the gospel gives us good reason to live bravely, not matter the cost. Because those who live from the gospel know that nothing, not even death, can defeat those who are in Christ.

Questions

  • The suffering and death of Jesus seem to have caused Thomas to lose his courage. Have you ever felt like Thomas, unsure and timid?
  • How can the resurrection of Jesus give us confidence?
  • The boldness of Thomas to go to India and be martyred there didn’t come from a personal bravery, but from a bravery born out of the resurrection of Jesus. Since Jesus is risen and your eternity is ensured, what how can that set you free to live boldly right now?

Prayer

Almighty God, you know the doubts that linger in our hearts. Fill us with your Holy Spirit that we may be brave and bold in sharing the Gospel. Use our lives to leave a legacy of others who know the Gospel. In the name of the risen Jesus, Amen.

Published April 28, 2022

About the author

Ben Meyer is a husband, father, pastor and child of God. He has served as a pastor in Missouri, Illinois, and now at Hope Lutheran Church in Sunbury, Ohio and has presented at the Rural and Small Towns Missions national conference. He enjoys sports, fishing, hiking, reading, and spending time with his family.
View more from Ben

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