Doubting Jesus? Even some Disciples…

The Great Commission in the book of Matthew is one of the most well known and most-preached sections of the Bible. It gives us our marching orders; Jesus tells us what we are to do with our lives: make disciples of all nations. That seems like an overwhelming task! Thankfully, Jesus says that he will never leave us as we do this.

When studying the Great Commission, however, I like to start a few verses prior to verse 18, the traditional beginning of the passage.

“Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!” – Matthew 28:16-17 (NLT)

When Jesus rose from the dead, there was much doubt amongst the people. After all, who rises from the dead? What’s fascinating to me is that even among the disciples there was doubt. Even among those who followed Jesus closely for the three years of his ministry had doubts about Jesus and his resurrection.

If the disciples, who now are seeing Jesus face-to-face, had doubts about Jesus and his claims, how much more can we expect people today (including those in the church) to have doubts about Jesus?

When people think of doubt, they often link it to a lack of faith. But in fact, the definition of doubt is to feel unconvinced or uncertain about something. So, is it necessary for followers of Christ to be completely doubt-free? I don’t think so.

When Thomas doubted Jesus, did Jesus rebuke him? No! He gave him evidence so that he might believe. I believe God still works that way today.

When we have doubt, it shows that we are thinking critically about things. It shows that we are not blindly following. So instead of hiding out doubt, we ought to use that doubt to motivate us toward researching our faith and getting to know more about it, thereby getting to know more about Jesus.

There are certain things that we are guaranteed as followers of Christ, and things we need not doubt. One is our salvation. We can have assurance of our salvation. If we have placed our faith and trust in Christ, we can be assured that Jesus will not leave us. 1 John 5:13 says “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Our eternal destiny is not something that we need to wonder about – the Bible is written to give us assurance.

But what about our other doubts? I would argue that the best way to deal with your doubts is to share them with other followers of Christ. We have been united in a community of faith, and we are to help one another learn and grow in the faith. One way we do that is by being honest with others about what we’re struggling with. Sharing your doubt is not a sign of weakness – rather, it shows that you are always learning and thinking and willing to admit that you may not have all the answers.

One author who does a phenomenal job answering doubts is Lee Strobel. He has written a number of books, beginning with The Case for Christ. Strobel started as an atheist who set out to discredit Christianity. As he studied the facts, however, he became convinced of the truth of the gospel and gave his life to Christ. As a result, he has shared his story and evidence with millions, and has helped many people overcome their doubts.

So today, if you have doubts, don’t worry – you are in good company. Share your doubts with other followers of Christ and lean on each other during these seasons. Don’t silently suffer and allow your doubt to eat away at you and your relationship with God. Think of your doubt as a gift from God, inviting you to know him more and more. Doubt is only wrong if you don’t allow it to motivate you to action.

 

Advertisements

Doubting Thomas…Not so Different

How do you know when something is true? Do you base your decision on facts? Do you base your decision on your own experience? How about your feelings?

The fact is, most of us, though we say we base things on fact, lean more on our own experience and feelings than we’d like to admit.

In our passage, Thomas, faced with the facts – 10 other witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection – didn’t believe them. He based his decision on his own experience that people don’t rise from the dead. The people he had seen who had died, had all stayed dead. Though he was facing the eye-witness testimony of his trusted friends and companions, he still doubted.

I think that most of us, if faced with the same situation, would have been with Thomas as opposed to the other disciples. I know we don’t like to think that, but in reality, we would probably have doubted as well.

Even today we face myriad of facts and theories and evidence that attempts to refute the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. Books have been written, speaking engagements have been booked, all claiming that Jesus’ resurrection was a hoax or just a fable.

I’m not going to get into refuting some of those theories right now, but I would encourage you to check out any of “The Case for …” books by Lee Strobel. He was an atheist who set out to disprove Christianity. Instead, he found that the evidence points to what the Bible teaches.

Thomas was a man who had lived with Jesus for three years, studying him, listening to him, loving him. Yet when it came time for him to believe what had happened he doubted. If you have doubts today about your faith or your future, Thomas would make a good companion for you. His example, and the way Jesus spoke with him, set the stage for how we should combat our own fears and doubts.

First, Thomas was open and honest about his doubt. The first thing we must do if we are ever going to get the answers for the questions we seek is to be honest about having the questions in the first place. God can handle the questions that we have. In fact, he wants us to ask the questions and find the answer. And that leads us into the second thing to note.

Second, Jesus never rebukes Thomas for doubting. Instead of yelling at him and telling him he should have believed, we see Jesus calmly and lovingly showing him the evidence he needs. God doesn’t want you to hide your doubt, he wants you to express it so that he can help you overcome it.

When you have doubts about the faith, it is important to share those with a trusted Christian leader who can help you find the answers that you seek. Certainly there are always going to be questions we can’t answer, but there are many answers found in Scripture that can help us through our periods of doubt.

When you face doubt, know that you are not alone. God will never leave you or turn his back on you because you have questions and doubt. In fact, some of the greatest understandings about God you have may come directly from the period of doubt you’re currently in.

Don’t be afraid of your doubt, but don’t stop in that doubt. Work through it so that God can show you the wonderful truth of him and his word.

But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.”

But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”

Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”

Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”

Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

– John 20:24-29 (MSG)