More than enough to convince
More Than Enough to Convince (John 20:24-31)
The minutes of the first church conference could have recorded the words, "Thomas absent." Like a wounded animal, he had hugged his own aloneness. He must have said to the other disciples, "I told you so." Thomas had expected the worst and it had happened. We call him "Doubting Thomas." That is actually wrong. He was "Disbelieving Thomas." He positively and assertively stated his disbelief in the resurrection. His nickname "Didymus" means "twin." Perhaps that suggests the civil war within the man himself: loyal to Jesus but disbelieving His resurrection.
Thomas is an apostle for our generation. We are a generation of a ? rather than a !. The faith proclaims "He is risen!" We question. Yet Jesus always appears in a way that gives proof of the resurrection. If you do not believe, it is because you will not believe.
Unbelief Resists the Evidence
The disposition of unbelief resists the evidence. By nature, Thomas looked at the dark and pessimistic side of things. The other two times he appears he demonstrates that disposition. He is pessimistic about the present: "Let us also go that we may die with him" (John 11:16). He is skeptical about the future. He questions Jesus' very words about the future (14:5). Thomas had a predisposition to the dark, skeptical, and negative. Unbelief will make you look at the dark side, for there is no light.
The isolation of unbelief resists the evidence. Thomas's obstinate refusal to believe caused him to isolate himself from the other believers. Ten of the apostles and other disciples had gathered in belief. Thomas hid in willful doubt. In his isolation he kept himself miserable for another week. As C. S. Lewis discovered, nothing is more fatal to unbelief than being around cheerful, positive believers. Such exposure is fatal to skepticism.
The proclamation of belief presents the evidence. When Thomas came back, the disciples continually attempted to convince him of the resurrection. If you doubt the Easter truth, you must doubt it in the face of every church spire and 2,000 years with millions of testimonies. The Christian witness is comprehensive. Each disciple who had seen the Lord came to Thomas: the women, Mary Magdalene, Peter, James, the two on the road to Emmaus. Their testimony was convincing: "We have seen the Lord." Not only the ten apostles but many others had seen Him. When you resist the evidence, it is in the face of continual, comprehensive, and convincing evidence.
Unbelief Roots in Willfulness
Unbelief demands its own evidence. What is good enough for others is not enough for the unbeliever. Thomas sets up his own criteria. He must both see and touch the risen Christ. Further, the touch test must include both His pierced hands and thrusting Thomas's hand like a butcher into the wound of Jesus' side! This is the only mention of the nails in the record, and Thomas demands to see their prints! Personal unbelief is arrogant. It always sets up more and more demands in order to believe. "Get me rich, make me well, give me a job, and I will believe." The demands are endless.
Unbelief declares its own willfulness: "I will not believe it" (v. 25). Thomas refused the testimony of his closest friends. That testimony was more certain because it came from those who themselves did not expect a resurrection. Unbelief is unreasonable. Many blame Christians for being emotional. Nothing is more emotional than unbelief. Who would dare desire to thrust a hand into the side of a crucified friend?
Thomas did not believe because he did not want to believe. He said, "Unless I see, . . . I will not believe." That is willful refusal. Do you not believe? It is not due to the circumstances or disappointments with believers. You do not want to believe if you do not believe.
Unbelief Relents with an Encounter
Unbelief relents when it has an encounter with believers. The believers gathered at the same place a week after Easter because they expected to encounter Jesus on Sunday. Thomas was persuaded to be there. In the presence of expectant believers, he lost his unbelief. How do you get out of doubt? Get around believers.
Unbelief relents when it has an encounter with Christ. There is an inevitability about the presence of Christ. Even though doors were locked, Christ stood in the midst of them. You cannot close Him out. He comes into every situation. Ultimately, you will sense His presence in your home, business, social circle, and government. Christ comes into every situation, but not into every single self, unless you let Him.
There is an intimacy about encounters with Christ. Jesus knew what Thomas had said a week before. He had been there, unseen but more real than any other. He comprehends us completely. But then He condescends to us. Jesus did not find fault with Thomas. He offered Thomas the very test that Thomas wanted (v. 27). Thomas did not then take the test. Christ overwhelmed Thomas by letting Himself be overwhelmed. Jesus meets you again and again by stooping down to your arrogant demands. We tell Him, "Not now, wait until later." And He waits.
There is an urgency in encounters with Christ: "Stop doubting and believe" (v. 27). Belief and doubt are a continual process. Literally, Christ said, "Stop becoming faithless." We are in a continual process in one direction or the other—increasing doubt or growing belief. Act now as Christ calls.
Thomas moves in an instant from lowest unbelief to the highest confession of faith in the record: "My Lord and my God" (v. 28). Jesus did not want Thomas simply to believe physical evidence. He wanted Thomas to believe Him. Jesus is the same today. He offers you the evidence, but He wants you more than that to trust Him fully.