Has anyone ever given you a nickname?
Jesus’ disciples had nicknames. John was “the beloved” and Peter was a pebble, small rock. And among the disciples, very little is written or known about Thomas, but he is best known by the nickname, doubting Thomas.
It’s interesting how one snapshot of his life has characterized him for all time.
Yet, in John 11, eleven of the disciples are attempting to dissuade Jesus from going to Bethany, as it is too close to Jerusalem, where the religious leaders have tried once to stone Jesus to death, and they don’t want to give them a second shot at that.
But it was Thomas who was quoted as saying, “…Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:16
This would have been an awesome snapshot of Tom’s life to memorialize, but instead, we get doubting Thomas.
Tom’s pain is our gain. Thomas personifies what the journey of faith looks like.
- Disbelief does not disqualify you from having authentic faith.
- Disbelief is a part of the faith-building process.
All belief was once disbelief until we believed. It’s a hurdle each of us will confront and need to clear so faith can abound in our lives.
The mere fact that God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts, means that disbelief will surface from time to time.
Disbelief is only a hindrance to faith when we allow it to transcend truth.
In John 20, on the day that the disciples discover the empty tomb, Jesus appears to them, minus Thomas.
What a bad day not to be in church! Later that night, Thomas shows up and the disciples who saw Jesus, share about that encounter. Thom can’t believe it.
He watched Jesus die. He cannot unsee His death and burial. For Thomas, dead is dead. Eight days later the disciples gather as Thomas is still trapped in disbelief.
Suddenly Jesus appears in the room with them. He immediately greets them with “Peace be with you,” to calm any fears or worry at His sudden appearance. This greeting will prove to be significant for Thomas.
The word translated as peace is not the typical Hebrew greeting “Shalom” but “eriene” which means harmony among individuals and tranquility. It’s a term used to disarm enmity or fear between two people.
After the group’s greeting, Jesus turns to Thomas. Without question or hesitation, Jesus invites him to touch His scars to confirm it is He. Immediately this elicits a confession of faith.
Disbelief can creep into our lives when;
- Our natural minds struggle to comprehend the supernatural.
- We are not spending regular time in God’s Word or attending Bible studies.
- We try to force our thoughts, ways, and timing onto God.
Thomas’ questions were answered as he gathered with the other disciples and when Jesus showed up. This is why we need to be in community with other believers.
Fellowship and community are the core of Christianity. Any interpretation of scripture that leads you out of community with other believers is not in alignment with scripture.
Christianity is about faith, fellowship, and community. These are three inseparable characteristics of genuine faith. And it’s in this context that Jesus makes a profound statement that sets the course for all believers.
“Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
Thomas believed because he saw Jesus and His scars. Jesus promises a blessing for future believers who believe in Him without seeing.
The word blessed comes from the Greek “makarios”. It describes one who has the favor of God and is not dependent on favorable circumstances.
Verse 29 places the burden on every believer to share the good news with others. You and I are the connection to the past by being a witness of Jesus in the present.
Each time you share the gospel message about Jesus you are standing on the testimony of every believer going back to the firsthand account and experience of the disciples.
Growing in faith is the transition from disbelief to belief. By remaining in community with the body of Christ and being a student of the Word, we will overcome every theological hurdle we face as we reconcile the supernatural with our natural minds.
God is not disappointed by our unbelief. But don’t remain satisfied with what you know. Level up! God is infinite and wants us to go deeper in faith. Take every opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with those around you!