Doubting Thomas is famous. He doubted that Jesus was raised from the dead. He wasn’t the only one… all of Jesus’ closest followers (except for the women to whom Jesus first appeared to) doubted that Jesus was alive after having been executed on the cross.
Our Scripture reading this week showcases the story of Doubting Thomas. When Jesus first appears to his followers (who were holed up in a locked room fearing they were going to be arrested and killed next) Thomas isn’t with them. When they tell Thomas about it he pretty much says “NO WAY… I cannot believe this”. (John 20:19-29):
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 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 come to believe.”
Since the days those first followers of Jesus went into the streets to proclaim that Jesus was dead and now he is risen… doubt has been the constant companion of those, like Thomas, who weren’t there when Jesus first appeared. That was 20 centuries ago. The presence of doubt is not evidence of weak faith or no faith… but a sincere response to a supernaturally unbelievable event.
God does not ask us to turn off our common-sense and God does not ask us to fake it. God does ask us to persist in seeking after God even through doubt. God does ask us to keep our eyes, ears, hearts, minds, and spirits open to God’s continued presence in the world and our lives.
We may never fully shake doubt… but every affirmation that Jesus is alive and working in the world today through the Spirit should bring us a greater sense of promise and hope.