Doubting Thomas Didn’t Doubt

The Lord said to Thomas, “Do not doubt, but believe.”  We know that line well.  Too well, in fact, since Jesus didn’t say anything to Thomas about doubt.  In Matthew 14, when Peter tries to walk on water and sinks, Jesus reaching out his hand, saves him and says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  Whereas in John 20, when Jesus and Thomas meet in the upper room, Jesus lets Thomas touch his hands, feet, and side and then says, “Don’t be without belief, rather believe.”  Don’t believe me, here’s the Greek words.

doubt

 

See, despite what millions of sermons by thousands of preachers have told you, doubting Thomas didn’t doubt, but rather he was a-believing because in John’s Gospel, belief isn’t about an intellectual assent to some list of facts, but instead, belief is about a relationship.  When Jesus died on the cross, so too did his relationship with Thomas.  Thomas believed Jesus, he gave him his heart and his hope, and that belief couldn’t live beyond the grave.

Unless, that is, Jesus lived beyond the grave, and that is so hard to fathom, that Thomas wanted proof before he handed his heart over to be burned again.

We all have doubts from time to time, that’s a normal part of living the life of faith, we shouldn’t begrudge Thomas for doubting (even if he didn’t).  What Jesus longs for in this post-resurrection encounter with Thomas is that we all might believe in him by handing over our hearts and our hopes that he might bring them to the fullness of joy.  That’s what living an Easter life is all about.  That’s what Thomas wanted, he just needed to see it, touch it, experience it before he was willing to risk relationship again.  Believe me, I get that.

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6 responses

  1. So is the lack of relationship simply a product of him not being there the first time around? I’d like to think that Thomas missed out not because he didn’t get it or because he didn’t want a relationship with Jesus but simply because he was otherwise engaged. What’s the message for the Christian community (us)? Maybe I should preach against the ills of travel soccer teams.

  2. I like Thomas so much because he’s the only one who said, “Let us go, so that we might die with him” when the other disciples were trying to talk Jesus out of going back to Judea to check on Lazarus. Because of that, I see his absence on the night of the Resurrection as one of heartbroken grief. Like Steve says, he doesn’t want to get burned again; he put so much hope in Jesus, and now (for all he knows) he’s dead and gone.

    Also, I prefer to think that he doesn’t touch Jesus’s hands or put his hand in Jesus’s side. Instead, he simply says, “My Lord and my God!” and that’s enough for Thomas.

    Another thing I see here is the strength of community pulling us through in times of grief and struggle. The disciples didn’t kick him out for a lack of faith; they hung around with him until he came back around, and it was enough to give him his own chance to encounter the resurrected Lord.

  3. Pingback: SR: Faith, Doubt, and Community | Theologybird Writes

  4. Pingback: The Collect Call – a homily | Draughting Theology

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