Focus on Jesus Series
Doubting Thomas and the Audacious Claim of the Resurrection
by Ed Vasicek
Thomas the Apostle was certainly a great man of faith, but he was skeptical and cynical by nature. The week before Christ was crucified, when opposition to Christ by the leaders was becoming intense, Jesus decided to go to Bethany, near Jerusalem, where Jesus' enemies were strongest. The disciples were against such a plan, but Jesus was determined. He intended to resurrect His dear friend, Lazarus.
What did Thomas do? He responded, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). Thomas was a dedicated follower of Jesus. He believed Jesus was the Messiah and was willing to risk his life for Him, as you can see in this context. But Jesus rising from the dead? Once again, truth was stranger than fiction.
When Thomas doubted the resurrection, he was not rejecting Jesus as much as he was rejecting the concept that Jesus could resurrect Himself (all three Persons of the Trinity participated in the resurrection, including the Son, according to John 2:18-22). He could not reconcile how Jesus could be God’s chosen Messiah and still God could allow Him to suffer the ignoble death of the cross. He was paradigm blind: the Jews knew that the Messiah was going to defeat Israel’s enemies and bring in the Golden Age. Thomas did not understand the concept of one Messiah but two Comings. All he knew was that He who had worked so many miracles could not deliver Himself from the Romans. Thomas was thrown for a loop.
Lest you go too hard on Thomas, remember the other disciples did not believe in the resurrection (except for John) until they themselves saw Jesus. They thought the women were crazy, and Thomas thought the other apostles were crazy in the same way. Jesus’ followers simply found it difficult to swallow the idea of the resurrection. The idea of the resurrection IS a crazy, absurd thought. It just happens to be true. That is why Paul says that the Gospel is “foolishness to them that perish.” It is an offensive, scandalous message to those whose hearts are hard.
The previously skeptical apostles became so convinced of the truth of the resurrection of Jesus that they suffered torture and laid down their lives rather than deny its authenticity. They did not espouse the resurrection as a theory: they were convinced, against their skeptical natures, that it was a fact. As church history and modern evangelical experiences demonstrate, convinced skeptics often become the greatest Christians. They become the Josh McDowells and the C.S. Lewises.
We who live in the church age have heard about the resurrection of Christ since childhood. The “absurd edge” of our belief doesn’t register because we are used to hearing about it. But everything in the Christian faith hinges on this one event. If it is untrue, Jesus was just an egotistical philosopher who called great attention to Himself and made audacious claims. If it is true, Jesus surely is the Son of God and the Scriptures are the Word of God. Those who trust Christ will enjoy eternity with God in heaven while those who reject Him will enter into “outer darkness.” The resurrection is either history’s greatest hoax or history’s greatest event. For those of us who believe, we can testify that the resurrection, which occurred nearly 2,000 years ago, has changed our lives today!
Highland Park Church
516 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, Indiana, USA