Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20.29
Over the years I have found myself more and more endeared to this story, especially to its authenticity.
It could have been just as easy for John to exclude the account of Thomas’ doubt and simply allow only the glamorous stories to be told, but John is too real for that. In fact, the gospel of Jesus Christ is too real for that.
After all, what makes the good news, good news, is that what it declares happened with the death and resurrection of Jesus, is too good to be true.
This is why it’s considered “GOOD” news, and not ordinary or expected or unsurprising news.
The gospel is radical! It’s shocking! It’s unbelievable!
If we’re honest, doesn’t the good news generate a sense of disbelief even in the most passionate of followers of Christ?
What? – God loves me how much? Jesus was willing to go how far? God is doing what with me, and the world?
I love this story because of the honesty in which it handles the invitation of God. An invitation offered through Jesus Christ, to even the doubters, or maybe we should say, especially to the doubters. When I reflect on God’s outrageous invitation I think of the words of Frederick Buechner and how describes as an invitation that is one part tragedy, one part comedy, and one part fairy tale. All of which, if we look for it, are seen in Thomas’ story.
Thomas doubts, not because he doesn’t love God, and not because he wants to be “worldly”. He doubts because the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so subversive to what he has understood of God and the world that he finds it difficult to take the leap of faith without some form of encounter with Jesus himself. And the beautiful thing is, Jesus honors his request.
Jesus comes to Thomas and enters into his doubts with him. Jesus is not deterred by Thomas’ questions or misguided assumptions, because the love of God which conquered death, cannot be conquered by doubt.
For me, the most powerful message in this story is how Jesus takes Thomas’ doubt, which is usually viewed as an exit from faith, and instead uses as an entrance into a deeper and more intimate encounter.
Let’s be honest, if we walk out this journey with Jesus long enough, doubts will surely creep into our mind. He is after all, the God of unbelievable love and adventure. He will stretch us. He will challenge us to deeper levels of trust and intimacy with him. He will ask us to take the risks that come with faith.
So this is my encouragement. When those times come, don’t freak out. Don’t panic. Just stay engaged, stay in pursuit, and invite Jesus to open your eyes and heart to his presence and will. Hold out your doubt, as you would your faith, and ask him to meet you in it.
Our doubts do not have to be exits from our faith; in fact, they can be entrances to a deeper faith. If we are willing to stay open to his presence and leading – After all, isn’t this why Jesus calls “blessed” the belief of those who haven’t seen him?