Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, 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 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.”
We often refer to him as “Doubting Thomas,” but he was not a doubter—he flat out refused to believe. On top of that, he added specific demands that must be met in order for him to change his mind. Who did this guy think he was? “Of course, sir! We’ll get right on that! Someone go get Jesus so he can prove to Thomas that he is alive and well!” What was he thinking? Why was he so unwilling to listen to the testimony of his closest friends? Men he had travelled with for three years. Why was he so unwilling to believe the remarkable news?
Do you know someone like him?
I was a “Doubting Steve” back in 1994 and I wanted some proof that I could believe the claims of the bible. Certainly, if the bible was accurate and trustworthy, there would be a rich history of archeological evidence to support its historicity, and therefore its trustworthiness. I put that demand to a former Pastor and his wife that my bride was working with (to build them a new home). He smiled and said, “That’s wonderful! I have an amazing library at home with lots of books on that subject. When would you like to come over and borrow some?” Do you know how many of his books I borrowed and poured over in search of an answer? None. Zero. Nada.
My doubt was just a smokescreen.
I am not comparing my situation to Thomas’ but attempting to make a larger point: Someone’s doubt is not necessarily a dead-end. Quite possibly, it’s just a dramatic pause. In Thomas’ case, the Lord graciously indulged his indignance and allowed him to experience what he demanded. I’ve known some converts to Christ that had their demands met as well, but for most of them, like me, God’s kindness through the Gospel was more than enough to erase the wall of doubt they had constructed. Additionally, it is important to remember that facts do not win people to Christ—Christ himself does that (John 6:44).
Don’t give up on your Doubting Thomas! Be willing to listen and offer answers and/or resources to help them grapple with their objections…but you must bathe all of that in prayer and be patient! Don’t take their skepticism personally. Believing in Jesus requires us to come face-to-face with our own sinfulness and then admit that we can’t do anything to clean ourselves up. That is a hard pill to swallow—and one you can’t force anyone to take—so be patient and prayerful and trust the Lord. Only Jesus knows what is truly needed to see your “Thomas” enter the Kingdom.