Thomas got a bad rap

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“Doubting” Thomas wasn’t so bad.  Here is the reference to his time of questioning:

John 20:24-29 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.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Did Jesus chastise Thomas for doubting?  No.  And remember that Jesus was not shy about rebuking the Disciples when they got things wrong.  Thomas asked for evidence and he got it. 

Doubts are OK, provided you don’t use them as an excuse not to believe.  Use them to keep honestly searching for the truth and Jesus promised you will find it. 

Now Jesus will probably not appear to you directly, but He didn’t expect you to believe just because someone said to.  There is plenty of evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and for the accuracy and integrity of the Bible.  All of the examples of sharing the Gospel in the Bible involve using fact, reason and evidence.  So let’s give Thomas a break.

14 thoughts on “Thomas got a bad rap”

  1. Anyone – religious or atheist – can see the internal inconsistency of “God made you [and made you a logical creature], but don’t use your intellect when it comes to believing in Him.”

    A quick dictionary.com search of “faith” includes the definition of “belief not based on proof.” That distinguishes Thomas from others who may believe without proof (although, assuming arguendo that the Bible is true, Jesus certainly did not shy away from giving proof of his divinity), but there is never any requirement to check your brain at the door.

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  2. ahh, a thinking Christian. Unfortunately, because many who claim to be followers of Christ do not understand what they follow or defend it as eloquently as you do, the world has a misconception that Christianity is simply another mystical “religion.” Oh that they could see what we can see, and feel what we feel, and then they would understand.

    But Christianity is really about the “child-like faith” as Christ put it. Until one has it, they cannot accept or understand Christ’s message.

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  3. The Thomas story is there for a reason, just like the story of Jesus by the lake after his resurrection cooking breakfast. We need to know that his resurrection was not just a ghostly appearance. He was corporeal. He had a body that could be touched and he still had the wounds of the crucifixion.

    Second, being a Christian doesn’t mean packing away your skeptical faculties in a box in the attic. Examine the evidence. Those who have done so in a critical manner – such as Frank Morrison who wrote “Who moved the stone?” come to the conclusion that Jesus really did rise from the dead.

    Not to say that everything is explicable. But when the explanations end faith is the gift of God.

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  4. This is exactly what I tell my High School students. However I also tell them the danger with this; is accepting answers before you reach the real truth.
    I myself accepted Christ by faith despite my questions. It was not until I finally surrendered to the Holy Spirit many years later (and I still fight it sometimes) that I started looking for answers, not for myself but because the spirit so filled me with love for others that I wanted to prove to them the truth of the Gospel.
    I read Lee Stroebel’s books with great excitement. Then the history teacher at the High School started teaching Intellignet Design (he claimed it was not science so it should be taught as history). Actually he was attacking it.
    My Sunday School class started asking questions I couldn’t answer; so I read “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds” and “Darwin’s Black Box”. It sounds like my studies were one-sided, but I did read other things as well.
    Sorry this is so long. but my point is that when people seek answers, they sometimes stop before they get to the truth. I tell my students that if their answers don’t lead them to the God of Abraham; they need to keep looking.
    I also am coming to believe that despite all these great answers that excite me so much. I can’t “prove” the existence of God to anyone else (not even my own children).
    The best I can do is to get them to seek him. I think that like Thomas you have to meet him, and I don’t mean after you die.
    I would be interested in whether people think that is wrong.

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  5. I’ve always thought Thomas got a bad rap. You just know that the other Apostles were dying to ask the same questions, but he was the kid in the back of the class who would actually ask. 🙂

    Someone once said, “The opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s certainty” and I think the story of Thomas is a great example of that.

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  6. Thanks for all the well thought out comments. There is a perhaps a paradox with child-like faith and the faith based on evidence and logic. But I think both are required for a vibrant faith. Christianity encourages to use our minds, and all the accounts of sharing the Gospel in the book of Acts are based on evidence and reasoning. Yet, like Job, we never get 100% of our questions answered. Having the faith of a child can be very liberating at that point.

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  7. If I’m not mistaken, the other disciples didn’t believe it when they first heard Jesus had risen. I agree with Terry. Had to be a reason why Thomas was singled out. Only thing I’ve ever really come up with is that Thomas makes a statement that goes beyond faith to complete certainty that Jesus is in fact GOD.

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  8. Your posts evoke much thought and this one is no exception. Guess I’ll mention a couple of thoughts here. Not only did Jesus not chastise Thomas here for doubting, He did not chastise the disciples in Jn 20:19-21 for being scared, afraid & locked up in a room the week before. How is that for future leaders of the church? Secondly, Jn 20: 27 it is Jesus who takes the initiative to reveal Himself to Thomas. In many other places this seems to be the case. Luke 24: 27,31 came to mind first. Neil, hope my long comments don’t annoy you…

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  9. You know, Neil, you caught upon the point that he asked and received for the increase of his faith… and was not chastised.

    However, I’d like to point out specifically that asking ofr increase of faith/a sign isn’t a bad thing – especially given other passages, like John 16:23-24.

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  10. I agree about asking for more faith – one of my favorite passages (especially the last line) is Mark 9:21-24:

    Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

    “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

    “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

    Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

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