This weekend we have been following ‘A sceptic’s guide to Jesus.’ What better, then, to reflect on an incident when a sceptic actually met Jesus? The story is familiar enough. Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, told the other disciples that he would not believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead “unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were” (John 20:24). A week later Jesus appeared again to the disciples, Thomas included.
This story shows us several helpful things. First, Jesus meets sceptics where they are. He’s not surprised to find them, even among his disciples. That in itself should be comforting to the sceptics among us, and to those of us who have sceptical friends.
Second, Jesus doesn’t want to leave sceptics where they are, in their doubts. He tells Thomas to “Stop doubting and believe” (verse 28). This is something of a shock to modern ears, which tend to see doubt as a good thing, where the one thing we can be sure of is that we can’t be sure of anything. Jesus seems to think there are things we can be sure of.
Third, Jesus expects the testimony of the first apostles to be convincing. Thomas should have believed the other disciples when they told him, “We have seen the Lord!” (verse 25). While he had their verbal testimony to go on, we have their written testimony in the pages of the New Testament. When we have doubts, that is where Jesus encourages us to turn.
Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister/Vicar)