Friday, December 28, 2012

The Skeptic


The Skeptic

 

“Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” – John 11:16

We all know at least one.  They’re the kind of people that can always find a storm lurking in the clouds.  They can always dream the worst ending to any story.  They are consumed with the evil and wrong in the world.  Every new disease becomes a threat, and every horrible crime report becomes a worry.  These are the skeptics, the ones who refuse to see good in anything, and by their actions doubt that good exists.
Thomas, the apostle, was a ring-leader of skeptics in his time, and is known as ‘Thomas the Doubter’.  We know very little else about Thomas.  We don’t know his occupation before he became a disciple.  Though he was called “the twin”, we don’t know anything about his twin – if he indeed had one.  There are only four times in the Bible that Thomas speaks, one of which occurs in the story of Lazarus.

In John 11 we read that Lazarus, a friend to Jesus, was sick and his sisters Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”  But Jesus sent back a message saying “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
The apostles, having heard that Lazarus’ sickness was for the glory of God should have anticipated a miracle would be coming.  This is how Jesus revealed himself to the world, by showing the supernatural connection He had to God in working miracles. 

Two days after Jesus got word that Lazarus was sick, He announced to His disciples that Lazarus was dead, and that He was going to Judea.  Now this raised concern with them because the people of Judea had sought to stone Jesus the last time he was in town.  And why go now when Lazarus was already dead?
This is when Thomas speaks from the dark cloud of doubt and destruction that hung over his head and said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

Really?
Really Thomas? 
Did you not see Jesus give sight to the man who had been blind since birth? 
Did you not see Him cause the lame man to walk? 
Were you not there by His side when the leprous man was cured? 
What about the woman who had been sick for 12 years with a blood disease, and Jesus healed her? 
All this, and you worry that you, who have been one of 12 closest to Jesus, will die in Judea? 
How many more miracles will it take for you to believe?
 
We know the rest of the story of Lazarus, and how Jesus came to Judea, called him from his tomb, and Lazarus lived – again.  Jesus proved he had power over death, and that He could raise himself up when the time came, just as He had raised up Lazarus.  Many who were there that day and saw this miracle believed in Jesus…but not the skeptic Thomas!

Even after Jesus had died, risen, and was walking the earth for 40 days after his resurrection, Thomas still doubted.  Even when the other disciples said they had seen Jesus, Thomas said “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25) It wouldn’t be enough to see it.  Thomas would have to feel it, to stick his hand in Jesus’ side.  There would be no smoke and mirrors involved when Thomas believed!  He was going to find out for sure that Jesus was alive!

With so many believing in Jesus at the sight of one miracle, Thomas’s lack of faith would have been nerve racking for some, but not for Jesus.  He was willing to do whatever it took to prove Himself to Thomas.  To that end, He appeared to Thomas and said in John 20:27 “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

The cold hard fact is this.  Sometimes people just have to see it to believe it.  And sometimes they have to see it more than once!  But when a skeptic becomes a believer, they are unshakeable! Thomas went on to be martyred for preaching the gospel of Christ in India, as non-Biblical records report.  Once he found faith in Christ, His stand was steadfast.

We’re all going to face a Thomas in our personal ministries.  They will be the ones that doubt that God could cause any fish to swallow a man.  They’ll not believe a bush that burned with a voice coming out of it and was not consumed.  They’ll disregard all evidence of the flood of Noah.  They’ll deny that Jesus was the Son of God.  But we cannot give up on the skeptics!  Though they may walk on our very last nerve, just as Jesus was patient with Thomas, we must be patient as well.  No one believes in Jesus until God draws him (John 6:44).  God has a way with skeptics.  And when God has revealed Jesus to them, a great believer will be reborn!

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