I DON’T THINK we’ve been fair to him.
It was only eight days.
Nevertheless, eight days of disbelief, and he’s been given the moniker — Doubting Thomas.
It isn’t fair.
Yes, he doubted, but was it an unreasonable doubt?
According to John 20, after Jesus’ resurrection his disciples were huddled in fear behind locked doors.
Suddenly Jesus showed up.
Shazaam! “Peace be with you” (v19).
And then he showed them his hands and side.
Positive ID, for sure. They were glad to see him.
I imagine they were surprised, too.
Thomas, however, wasn’t there.
We don’t know where he was, but we do know that somebody’s always late.
When he finally showed up, the other disciples filled him in on the good news.
He didn’t buy it.
“Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (John 20:25 ESV).
Isn’t it reasonable to believe that his comrades had told him that they had seen Jesus’ hands and side?
Surely that was part of their testimony.
Thomas wanted the same.
Wouldn’t you have too? I would have.
Back up a bit.
None of the disciples had been pillars of belief until Jesus showed up.
Even though Jesus had told them several times that he would be killed and rise again on the third day, they remained clueless.
In Matthew and Mark’s gospels, the disciples didn’t believe the women’s report that they had seen the risen Jesus.
In John’s gospel, he had an inkling of belief at the empty tomb (20:8), but he was still trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
Proof positive for the disciples wasn’t until Jesus showed up. Seeing became believing.
Eight days later, the disciples were still behind locked doors when Jesus showed up again, and this time with an offer to erase Thomas’s skepticism.
“Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27).
Did Thomas do it?
Did he touch Jesus’ wounds?
Did he place his hand in Jesus’ side?
Artists have often given us that image, but the Bible doesn’t.
Seeing not only turned into believing, it escalated into worship.
“Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’ ” (John 20:28-29).
Yes, Thomas doubted. But he didn’t camp there.
Instead of being given the forever moniker of Doubting Thomas, he deserves to be remembered as Believing Thomas.
How about you? How about me?
How many days didn’t you believe before you finally believed?
Do you want to be remembered as Doubting Bill or Doubting Susan?
So let’s cut Thomas some slack. Yesterday’s doubt shouldn’t define us.
We aren’t given the invitation to put our finger in Jesus’ side, but we are given the invitation to believe.
And as Jesus said, believing doesn’t require seeing. Faith has eyes of its own.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Greg Reynolds is pastor of Joyce Bible Church. His email is email@example.com.