The resurrection of Jesus is that kind of miracle. It is totally unexplainable by any human or natural means. That may be why we don’t talk about it very much. We’re not sure how it happened. The crucifixion we can understand; the resurrection is another matter. Here’s the proof: Lots of people wear silver crosses around their necks. You don’t see many people wearing little silver empty tombs.
So I ask the question again: Do you believe in miracles? Especially this, do you believe in the greatest miracle of all—the resurrection of Jesus Christ? In case you think you have to answer “yes” just because you happen to be in church, put your mind at ease. If you answer “No” or “I’m not sure,” you are in good company. There are lots of people today who aren’t sure whether they believe it or not. And there were lots of people on the first Easter Sunday who weren’t sure either. Folks like Peter, James, John, Matthew, Bartholomew, Simon the Zealot, and a man whose name has become synonymous with doubt—Thomas. Doubting Thomas.
John tells us that Thomas was not present on that Sunday evening when Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst. The Bible doesn’t say why, but I think I know. There are basically two different ways people respond to sorrow and tragedy. Some seek solace in the company of their friends. They want people around to help them talk it out. Others prefer to be alone with their thoughts. Such was Thomas.
If it is true that Thomas realized more than the others what was going to happen in Jerusalem, then it may also be true that he was more deeply hurt. He was not with the disciples because his heart had been crushed. Everything he had, he had given to Jesus, and Jesus is dead.
He still loves, still cares, still wants to believe, but his heart is broken. He is not a bad man nor is his doubt sinful. Deep inside he wants to believe. Don’t put him down too hard. We’ve all been in the same place.
If you wish to call Thomas a doubter, please do not make him out an unbeliever. Some have tried to place him in the company of the skeptics. He does not belong there. Thomas is definitely not a skeptic or a rationalist. His doubts come from devotion to Christ. There is no doubt like the doubt of a broken heart. It’s one thing to doubt the Virgin Birth in a classroom setting. It is something else again to lose someone you love and wonder if there is still a God in heaven.
He is not an unbelieving skeptic; rather, he is a wounded believer. Remember, Thomas didn’t doubt the miraculous in general. He had seen many of Jesus’ greatest miracles. But this one was too big to take someone else’s word for it. He had to see it to believe it. And who could blame him?
When he says, “Unless I touch his wounds, I will not believe,” there is much more than doubt. There is love, and sorrow, and pain, and a tiny grain of hope. Thomas stands for all time as the one man who most desperately wanted to believe if only he could be sure. Can you blame him? Would you have been any different?
Jesus didn’t put him down. He said, “Go ahead, all you who wonder if it is true. See for yourself. Stop doubting and believe.” Here is the wonderful truth. Doubters are welcome at the empty tomb.