Reading: John 14.
People don’t tend to like doubters very much. They breed uncertainty, skepticism, and might lead others astray. To be honest, I’m not sure why, because as long as we are searching for the truth, doubting is the only other alternative. Faith is a lack of doubt, but how do you reach faith without looking for evidence to support it? Don’t we call “blind faith” that which someone believes without evidence?
Thomas was a doubter, and Jesus never rebuked him. In fact, had he not doubted, we would know less about Jesus. Our hard-nosed mentality of telling others it is a sin to doubt is wrong, because to get to where we are now, we all doubted. Otherwise many of you would still be Catholic, a mainstream watered-down Christian, Muslim, atheists, etc. No one is born Christian; we get to know Christ by leaving our doubt and finding reason to have faith in Him as our Savior. Therefore, Thomas is a personal hero of mine.
Did not Plato say that “An unexamined life is not worth living“? He implies that if we do not doubt, we will never change, and if we began in error, we will forever live in error (clearly this is hated by our current postmodern culture, for it denies absolute truth. It is one of my favorite quotes). Scripture tells us that all men were born sinners and haters of the truth (e.g. Rom. 1:18). Rene Descartes also said: “If you would be a real seeker after truth, you must at least once in your life doubt, as far as possible, all things.”
Thomas doubted, although you may find the word “questioned” or “examined” more pleasant to your preference. I say this because we dislike the word “doubt” mainly because of a misunderstanding of James 1:6, which is written only to those who are saved (as is the entire book) and pray without believing God to actually do what we ask. It is a sin to doubt God’s ability to do something, once we have come to know Him, for we are doubting His very ability to be free – to do anything He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it, however He wants to do it. For example, saying that God does not do miracles today almost implies that God cannot do miracles, which is entirely wrong. God can do as He good and well pleases and my “theology” must adapt to Him, not His to mine, which is clearly lunacy in this perspective.
Let us return to Thomas, shall we, before this rabbit trail gets us lost in the woods.
Have you ever marveled at and meditated on Christ’s phrase: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV)? I certainly have – what a phenomenal, glorious, profound, and weighty conclusion. How many times have we used this phrase, or heard it spoken of in sermons? Yet, what of the context? The context is doubt, questioning, and skepticism. Here is the previous context in John 14:1-5:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Here good old doubting Thomas confirms his name, as “doubting Thomas”, a title I have often used on myself. Jesus here speak in quite simple terms, and yet the meaning is elusive. Would this make sense to a disciple: “I’m going to prepare a place for you”? Uhh… where are you going? We have no clue? Lazarus’ house? Are you going home? I thought your dad was dead, what do you mean “in my [f]ather’s house”?
Maybe one of us good Christians would say, hush now, Thomas, just “believe”. Here we get ourselves in trouble though. Jesus actually was giving the opportunity to be questioned; He wanted Thomas to ask, for He had something very special to say. If Thomas had not asked the obvious question, we would not have John 14:6-7, it’s as simple as that.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
There is such power in the simplicity of this phrase – it is so exacting and practical. Jesus answers all the doubts of Thomas here, the questions all the disciples had, but only Thomas wished to “look dumb” and ask about (Consider for example God’s treatment of Moses’s, Gideon’s, and John the Baptist’s doubt – they are all not chastised for doubt, but answered).
Where are you going? Jesus was going to heaven, to open the only way to eternal life to all humanity.
How do we follow you to heaven? Jesus promised to take us, and if we believe that He is God and has the ability to do so, we can be taken.
Note that Jesus’ didn’t scold Thomas for asking, neither did He make him feel stupid for asking. He answered his question, and then gave him more, much more. He showed us that He is man’s only and exclusive hope of salvation (the way), the final and absolute purpose of mankind (the truth), and His followers ultimate destiny (the life).
Thank you, Thomas.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Those who do not know Christ, do not know the truth, and are thus enslaved by lies. Christ offers truth to those who doubt, to those who seek, to those who knock; for they shall find and be free indeed (John 8:36).