"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." John 20:25
Have you ever heard news that was so good you had trouble believing it?
Thomas has been vilified over the years as "Doubting Thomas" because he hesitated to accept the report of the appearance of the Resurrected Jesus. But was it doubt that Thomas struggled with or was it the fear of being disappointed? I suspect it was the latter but we will never know for sure. Since we are talking about confronting skeptics, this story of Thomas reminds me that dealing with skepticism sometimes requires overcoming our own skepticism. That was the case with Thomas. It is often the case with me. How about you? Perhaps you are thinking, "Brad, are you saying I should have no skepticism at all? Am I supposed to believe everything I hear?" My answer, "No and yes!" I think Thomas is a good case study for the issue of skepticism. I say that based on how Jesus responded to him. When Jesus appeared to Thomas he didn't condemn him He simply offered Thomas the proof he had asked for:
"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.” John 20:26-29 There is a skepticism that wants to believe but needs some help and there is a skepticism that is looking for reasons NOT to believe. Thomas is an example of the former. Jesus knew that and that's why He responded as He did to Thomas. But He also urged Thomas to grow beyond his skepticism. If you are thinking, "How do I grow beyond my skepticism?" Let me offer a few ideas from this incident: 1) Consider the source Thomas heard of Jesus' post-resurrection appearance from the other disciples. These were men he knew and loved and should have trusted. When he saw their excitement and sensed their passion, he should have dropped his guard and believed their report. When you hear something from people you know and love and trust you have far less need for skepticism. However, if your source is less reliable then your level of skepticism should rise. 2) Consider the Scripture Whenever you hear a report, even from reliable people, always run the report through the filter of God's Word. If the report is consistent with the truth of God's Word and if it comes from trustworthy people, then you can drop your skepticism and lift up your faith. In Thomas' case, Jesus had clearly told Thomas and the other disciples that He would be killed and He would rise again on the third day. So when Thomas heard his Brothers give this exciting report about the Resurrected Jesus, he should have believed and joined their celebration! Skepticism is a natural human response. Some people are naturally more skeptical than others. But Thomas shows you that your skepticism doesn't have to turn you into a doubter! Learn to use your skepticism as a gateway to stronger faith!