Among the first disciples of Jesus Christ was a man named Thomas. From the little we read about him, he seemed to have earned the reputation of being a bit of a skeptic. Strange as it might seem to some of you, I like Thomas. He is the one disciple with whom I can most identify.
I admit to being a bit of a skeptic myself. It is true I can be a bit naive at times but basically, call me skeptic. When it comes to most things you have to do a really good job of selling before I will buy. That was the kind of person I believe Thomas was.
They called him a doubter.
This is because he refused to believe in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ based simply on what the other disciples had to tell him. He wanted to see the evidence for himself before he would believe.
Thomas was not someone who could easily be fooled. He was not afraid to ask questions of his Lord. It was not that he expected to be deceived. No! He trusted Christ and was deeply devoted to him. His was the kind of devotion that made him willing to lay down his life for his master (see Luke 11:16).
Thomas was a man who wanted answers, answers that made sense. Once, when Christ told him and the other disciples that he was leaving for some place that they already knew, Thomas was the one who raised the question about getting to his destination, as he had no idea where Christ was going. Despite Christ’s rebuke, it seemed a reasonable question to ask. So I can understand his reticence to go along with the other disciples when they told him that they had seen the risen Lord.
Three years believing and now this?
He had spent the last three years faithfully following and serving this man whom he had come to believe was the anointed one, the Messiah. He was in the crowd on that day when the Master rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, leading the way with the others and shouting “Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” He was there in the Garden of Gethsemane when Christ was arrested. He had seen him strung up on the cross. A sword thrust into his side. He was there when they took him down from the cross and buried him in a borrowed tomb. Like the others, he had gone into hiding.
So, I can understand his difficulty believing when they came with this story of having met the risen Lord. He was not there. He did not see him for himself. He wanted the evidence. 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. (John 14:25)
He had been there before. His hopes had been completely dashed to pieces. He was trying to put his life back together. He certainly was not going to be led down another delusive path. He needed proof. He got it. Christ came with the proof: This is how John describes the encounter– 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 20:26-28)
We believe because he believed.
Someone once said “to the truly skeptic no proof would be enough, to the truly faithful no proof would be necessary.” Thomas’ response was spontaneous. Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” There was no need for him to touch, it was enough simply for him to see his Lord and to hear him speak. He believed.
The foundation of the Christian faith is based primarily on the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The resurrection is proof that his death on the cross has the significance for us that God intended for it to have. For us to benefit from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross we have to believe in him as the Son of God. It was his resurrection that confirmed this claim for the disciples. Thomas included.
We believe in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ because men like Thomas first believed. He asked for the evidence, he got it, and he believed. We can trust his testimony. You can take his word for it. Christ is alive!