Many people know about Christianity. Many people have grown up as Christians. But eventually, everyone has to come to the point where having others believe for you isn’t good enough. You have to believe it for yourself.
Thomas had walked for approximately three and a half years with Jesus. He had seen his miracles and had heard him teach. Thomas had heard Jesus speak about how he would be killed and how he would rise again. Yet Thomas didn’t understand.
When Jesus said that he was going away to prepare a place for them (John 14:1–3),
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5, NIV).
After the resurrection of Lazarus, when Jesus said that he was going to Judaea again, where the Jews were trying to kill him,
Thomas… said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16, NIV).
Thomas seemed to have that rash confidence of youth that isn’t based on understanding, but rather on emotion. He was with the disciples because they were his people, and that’s what he knew.
Thomas is like so many who grow up in the Christian church. Often, they are “cultural Christians” more than anything else. They believe because that’s what their parents and their community does. But too often, when we come face to face with the harshest challenges of life, they are enough to shake us from our foundations and set us adrift.
You have to come to the point when you believe in Jesus for yourself. Anything else is useless.
That’s what happened to Thomas when Jesus was arrested and executed. Together with the other disciples, he fled in terror. Everything they thought they knew about the world had just been shattered.
We don’t know where Thomas was when Jesus first appeared to the disciples in the upper room, but he wasn’t with them (John 20:24). He didn’t believe them when they told him, “We have seen the Lord!” (John 20:25). Now he wanted hard, empirical evidence:
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).
It’s from that statement that he gets the name “Doubting Thomas,” which is a bit unfair. He’s just like all of us. There has to come a time in our lives, when we believe it for ourselves: not because our parents told us, not because our friends believed it, not because the pastor said so – but because we believe it for ourselves. This is especially true for those who have grown up in Christian circles.
I’ve seen young people who come to that challenge but don’t accept it. They either leave the church, or they remain within it, having few opinions and even fewer convictions, and never committing to Christ with heart and soul.
But Thomas was not one of those. Because to every person, in some way, Christ will appear. And Christ appeared to Thomas, and said to him,
Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe (John 20:27),
and Thomas responded with
My Lord and my God! (v.28).
A personal, living faith in Jesus as your Saviour is the only thing that counts. At some stage, we all have to come to the point where we believe it for ourselves. Have you? Anything else is useless.
Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez.
About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question.