The foundation of faith.
Read John 20:19-29
“Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
Of all the disciples, the one that I most identify with is Thomas. Thomas did not play a significant role in the pages of Scripture. He is only mentioned 11 times, and five occurs in the lists of the disciples. There are only three occasions when Thomas becomes part of the story, and His words and actions are recorded for us. But on those three occasions, we get a glimpse into his personality and his approach to life. Thomas was the analyzer. If Thomas took the Briggs and Myers personality test, he would doubt come out as one who would be very analytical. While Peter was the extrovert, governed by feelings, Thomas was the introvert who based his decisions on logic and careful reasoning. He was the one who looked at life through the lens of cause and effect. For Thomas, life was predictable. When Jesus tells his disciples he was going to Jerusalem, Thomas immediately saw the outcome, and the result would be the death of Christ. We read in John 11:16, “Thomas said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, so that we may die with him.” The handwriting was on the wall, and the outcome was foreseeable.
When Christ told the disciples that he was leaving them and they knew where he was going and the way to follow (John 14:1-6), it was Thomas who raised the question, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Thomas wanted to know the facts, and when he did not understand, he needed to find the answers.
However, the defining moment for Thomas would come at the resurrection of Christ, and his response would forever label him as “Doubting Thomas.” When Thomas heard the report of the resurrection of Christ, it confounded him. People simply did not come back from the dead. Consequently, Thomas needed empirical proof. No matter what others would say, he needed evidence, and he needed to see it for himself. When Christ did appear to Thomas, with a subtle rebuke, Christ told him to touch His hands and put his finger in His side and see the reality of the resurrection. Then Christ reminded Thomas that faith is not grounded in proof and rational explanations. Faith is ultimately grounded in surrendering our trust in God’s words and promises, even if we do not always understand or it contradicts our reason or experience.
Some of us are like Peter; we want experiential evidence to our faith. We want our faith to be proven by some experience and feeling. We worship based upon feeling the wonder of his grace. However, feelings and experiences can be deceiving. We can feel something is right when in reality, it is wrong. Others of us are like Thomas. We want evidence and scientific proof to validate our faith. We want things to be factual and provable. But science can be misleading and faulty. What science tells us is “proven” today may be disproven tomorrow. The science that gives us the ability to harness energy to drive our cars and supply our industrial age also has given us the ability to wreak unimaginable destruction.
This is what brings us to the heart of faith. Faith ultimately believes in the person, work, and message of Christ regardless of how it conforms to our basis for truth. Faith is trusting God even when our experience and logic seem to point us in the opposite direction. Faith is recognizing that He is God and we are not. No matter how much we rationalize, our questions will not all be answered. No matter how much we feel the presence of God, those feelings will be fleeting. Only when we surrender to God and simply trust in his word will we discover the joy of genuine faith.