Don't Doubt It - Trust
Old Testament Reading- Proverbs 3:5-8
New Testament Reading- John 20:24-30
By Henry J. Rafferty CLP -March 12, 2023
Don’t be a doubting Thomas. Many people know the saying, but how many know from where the saying came? As with many things in our culture, stories, quotes, and wisdom sayings are used in everyday speech, without having even the slightest notion, that these things originated in Scripture. The blind leading the blind, suffer fools gladly, a fool and his money are soon to part, gave up the ghost, a fly in the ointment, the skin of my teeth, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and fight the good fight, are just a few examples of things we say often and are taken from the Bible.
How about Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech, given at the Illinois State Capitol after he
accepted the Republican party’s nomination as U.S. senator when he said, "A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”
The people hearing the speech that day would have no problem knowing where Mr. Lincoln had borrowed his wisdom statement of “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” But today, many readers of the same speech wouldn’t recognize that it was said first by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 12:22-28,
“Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
Now when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
The Apostle Thomas was also referred to as Didymus, a Greek word for twin. Was Thomas a twin, if so, we are not told, but he was called it for some reason. Thomas was one of the twelve apostles, the closest of the followers of Jesus. He is not talked about a lot in the Bible, but God chose him to follow Jesus. Most know him as “The Doubter,” but we do have another story about him.
When Jesus was heading back to raise Lazarus, the disciples warned Jesus that the Jews were actively trying to kill Him, and they questioned whether He should go back that way. John 11:14-16 tells us,
“So then He, Jesus, told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
In this passage, we see Thomas being bold and brave, stating that if Jesus is willing to go, even to His death, then they should all go with Him. This doesn’t sound like doubting Thomas, this sounds like brave Thomas. There might be more to him than we think, either that or he likes to talk a lot before he really thinks about what he is saying. Either way, I think Thomas has a lot to teach us about ourselves and each other.
John 20:19-29 tells us the next story about Thomas,
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So, the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But 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.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Imagine how Thomas must have felt at that moment, shameful because of his doubt, yet joyful for his master’s return. What is the lesson God is showing us here? I believe that the disciples were chosen by God to represent something about all of us. We see in the disciples: fear, doubt, ignorance, impatience, jealousy, envy, mistrust, pride, greed, and hatred. Sounds a lot like us, right? Here are some other qualities they possessed: boldness, humility, wisdom, patience, trust, and love. Again, sounds a lot like us. So, what is God’s lesson to us? Trust!
We must trust in the Lord in all things and know that He has everything under His control. Nothing, and I mean nothing, happens outside of the will of God. His will does not always coincide with our will, but that does not make us right and Him wrong. We must trust that God knows what He is doing.
"What is the lesson God is showing us here? I believe that the disciples were chosen by God to represent something about all of us." ~ Pastor Henry Rafferty
Almost thirteen years ago, when I was lying in the hospital for four months, I had much doubt. Sometimes, I doubted the hospital staff, sometimes I doubted the insurance company, and many times I doubted myself and my ability to get better, but not once, not even for the slightest moment did I doubt God. I don’t say that to mean that I am some great person, but I say it as an illustration that if I was capable of it, in the state I was in, then you are capable too.
I learned from the people in the Bible how to trust God, like Job, Daniel, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, and Thomas. Without the experiences, mistakes, and misfortunes of these people, I would not have known how to trust God to get through my struggle. Jesus was the ultimate figure though that I learned to trust. When times were the toughest was when I thought about Christ and how He suffered on that cross for me. If He will do that for me, then I must persevere. Thomas teaches us an unbelievably valuable lesson about the power of God. Thomas doubted Jesus rising from death, but he was reminded that all things are possible with God and to trust Him.
"Not once... did I doubt God. I don’t say that to mean that I am some great person, but I say it as an illustration that if I was capable of it, in the state I was in, then you are capable too." ~ H. Rafferty
I thank Thomas for his doubt because many of us doubt in our lives and he illustrates to us that we too must sometimes place our fingers in the wounds of Christ as well. Isn’t it wonderful that we serve a risen Savior that would encourage us and enable those that were not there, to believe without seeing, and for that, we are truly blessed. So, remember Thomas not as a doubter, but as a person chosen by God to teach us a valuable lesson about belief and trust, a lesson that like him, we are forgiven of our doubt and are strengthened in our faith. Trust that the faith God has given you will enable you to continue a lifetime in service to Christ. Thanks be to God. Amen.