Preachers love to use “Doubting Thomas” as a negative sermon illustration (my church’s NextGen pastor excepted) but why does everyone point the finger at him? Who did he doubt? None of the gospel accounts of the resurrection place Thomas at the tomb. He wasn’t there when Jesus first appeared to the 10 (11 counting Thomas.) But was he the first skeptic among the disciples that day? Luke 24 contains a report of the women finding the empty tomb and encountering the risen Jesus. What happened when they reported this to the apostles? “…the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.” (Verses 10b-11) What? They would not believe? Who’s doubting now? In the Gospel of John, when the disciples heard the report that the tomb was empty did they believe? No, they went and investigated, and then they believed. (Again, no mention of Thomas being there.) In both accounts, the disciples did not believe the report until they investigated for themselves.
Fast forward to Sunday night, and Jesus appears to the ten. Afterwards, the ten tell Thomas what they saw, and he refuses to believe. How is he any different?
It can be argued that after hanging out with the other ten guys for the last three years or so that he should have given them the benefit of the doubt. To be fair, however, this was a truly unique event in history. Moreover, it was a unique event that had direct personal implications. All 11 were grieving Jesus’ death. With the exception of those people they had seen Jesus raise from the dead (in a manner very different from Jesus’ own resurrection) they recognized that typically people tended to stay dead, especially when they die by crucifixion. However, just because Thomas had the boldness to say what the other 10 were thinking just that morning is no reason to single him out as a hardened skeptic. Thomas was in good company.
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