Dr. Ed Young - Thomas, Defeating Doubt
There was a time on this earth when Adam and Eve, their mind was in perfect agreement with the mind of Almighty God. The garden of Eden, pristine utopia. God, mankind. In the garden there was beauty, joy, freedom, celebration, because the mind of God was perfectly coordinated with the mind of man. But you know what happened. That beautiful little slithering, appealing snake came and looked at Eve and said, "Do you have freedom to supervise, to be steward and to be over all the beauty of the garden, to participate in all of creation"? And Eve says, "I do, Adam and I do, except there's one thing. God says that that tree over in the middle of the garden, that that one tree, we can't touch, we can't eat of the fruit of that tree or we will die".
And the slithering, beautiful little snake said in such appealing tones, "Oh, that's not true. You won't die. God is deceiving you, Eve. If you eat of that tree, you'll know the difference between good and evil, and God knows that you will be God". Wouldn't it be wonderful if, at that moment in history, that Eve had exercised that wonderful gift that God has given to all of us that God himself does not have. It's the gift of doubt. Wouldn't it have been fabulous if Eve had said, "You know, do I believe this beautiful little appealing, hissing snake or do I believe the Creator of the universe"?
Wouldn't it have been terrific if she had doubted what she had heard and not eaten of that fruit? By the way, you want to see what that image looks like? The fruit that she took a bite of? Look on your phone or your computer and you'll see a picture of it, have you ever noticed? And at that moment, a hole was punched into the ship of humanity. It's called the fall of man, theologically. And we know that we were all born with broken minds, every single one of us. Somehow that DNA was carried all the way through to you and to me today, and we have broken minds. What does the Bible say we're to do about a broken mind?
Romans 12 says, "Be not conformed to this world. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind". That's what is happening to us who are Christians, our minds are being renewed. And the product, or the process of that is to know how to use this fabulous gift of doubt. What is doubt? Doubt is that which we question. Doubt is that which we hold a decision in sort of ambivalence. Doubt is when we decide, do we go this way or that way? Is this a green light or a red light? And so, we have doubt, and if we go one way into skepticism, we move into disbelief. We go another way with faith, and we move into belief. How do we handle doubt?
This fabulous gift, how we need to doubt a lot of things, have you noticed that? So many things we see, so many things we perceive, we need to doubt how many of us see ourselves, how we see others, even how we see God. It's a tremendous asset, and people say, "Oh, I have so many doubts," honor those doubts. They're valid, they're good, and when we follow through on them honestly, so many times we end up with steadfast, immovable faith. So how do people reach decisions about what is valid, what is invalid? What causes us to believe? It leads us to be confident or lack of confident in our belief system.
Look at chapter 20 of John, verse 1, "Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone already had been taken away from the tomb". Mary went to the tomb before the sun came up, and she looked in and saw the stone had been rolled away, and she saw it was empty. And she turned around and the Bible tells us she ran back to tell Peter and John. I don't know where they were. If they were in the house of Mary and Martha, that was about a two and a half mile jog. It will be goin' downhill as she ran to them. And said, "Somebody's taken away the Lord".
In other words, there's been a kidnapping, somebody's got the body. And she reports that, and Peter and John get up, and they run to the tomb. And I love the account John gives. He says, I outran Peter. Hey, read it, read it, it's there. And John, who was younger, maybe in better shape than old Pete, he spent a long time with those Gentiles eating a lot of pork, so, maybe, you know, maybe he was in better shape, but they got to the tomb, and the Bible is very clear, John looks in the tomb, he sees the grave clothes had been disturbed, and then Peter comes and bombastic Peter, he just goes right in the tomb and he sees the face cloth, he sees the clothes there, and then they both knew what Mary had witnessed, that something happened to the body.
Jesus, somebody had kidnapped him, somebody had taken the body away, and they go back home. And then Mary Magdalene comes back again. And then we see how she found out, how she believed, how she discovered what was true. And she believed that this feeling leads to believing. You believe, you feel. Your feelings lead you to believing. Look how this operates, 20, John chapter 11, "But Mary was standing outside the tomb, weeping; and so she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head, one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying".
Now, it's interesting, she wasn't startled. I thought about that, maybe they appeared as human beings, we don't know, but there were two angels in the tomb. "And they said to to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'Because they've taken away my Lord, I do not know where they have laid him.' And when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there," just a figure, "did not know that it was Jesus". You say, well, how could that be? I have been right there early in the morning close to that area where the tomb is early in the morning, and I can tell you, there, when it was cold, the wind was blowing, fog was heavy, and you could hardly see to move around, so maybe it was that day. She saw just the shape of a man, and she said, "When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, did not know it was Jesus. And Jesus said to her, 'Woman.'"
The first word that the resurrected Jesus spoke was, "Woman". All you Christian feminists should celebrate that. He said, "'Woman, woman,' said Jesus, 'why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?'" "She, supposing him to be the gardener, and said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.'" I will pick him up, I'll get help, I'll touch that dead body, I'll take him away. "And Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' And she turned and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabboni!' (which means, Teacher.) And Jesus said to her, 'Stop clinging to Me, for cause I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, "I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God".'"
In other words, she was clinging to Jesus. She believed that feeling leads to belief. If you can touch, touch, touch Jesus, she can then believe. A lot of us go by feelings, do we not? That's the reason a lot of people have all kind of religious doodads around. You know, trinkets and statues, and we have to touch and hold, we have to have something that's tangible there, you know, for us to hold on to our faith. You see that a lot of times. We have high moments, "Oh, I feel," and we have low moments when we don't feel, and our faith is like this. That's instability, that's like being a 50 year old adolescent. We never really land, some people say, "Well, I lived my whole life on the basis of feeling, it's feelings".
Let me tell ya, if you wake up one morning and you decide, I don't feel like goin' to work, that's all right. That's the way you live your life. I'm going to tell you one thing for sure, you're going to have a lot of jobs. A lot, lot of vocations. We base on feelings. This is what Mary did. She said, you know, feelings lead me to believe. She wanted to hold on to him. A lot of people operate like that. Then we look at the disciples and we see how they found out what they believe and what was truth.
We look down on verse 19, 20 chapter John, "So when it was evening on that day," this is Easter Sunday, the first Easter, by the way, that night, "the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews," they were there afraid. They didn't know what was happening, the body had been stolen, they were not sure about the accounts. "Jesus came and stood in the midst of them and said, 'Shalom, peace be with you.'" They were afraid, and Jesus comes and says peace. That's the way he operates in our lives, isn't it? We have fear, and Jesus always comes when he's invited, and he says, peace, peace, peace. "And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side".
That is, seeing is believing. Here's my hands, you know, here's the nails, here's my side, the spear went in. Seeing is believing, that's what the disciples had. And when they saw this, they rejoiced. Verse 21, "So Jesus said to them, 'Peace be with you; as the Father has sent me, I send you.'" He gave them an assignment, he gave Mary the assignment, go and tell. He gave them an assignment, look what he says. "Receive the Holy spirit. Their sins have been forgiven them; and if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained". In other words, he said, you go and you introduce me, you tell people about me, and their sins are forgiven.
That's the cross, and there is a earthly transaction and a heavenly transaction. The earthly translation, we proclaim sins are forgiven through Jesus, and it is confirmed in heaven, and therefore his sins are forgiven here, they're forgiven in heaven, and they're not forgiven in heaven unless they're forgiven here. They had an assignment. And for them, seeing was believing. Mary, feeling was believing, but now we come to the hero of how to doubt, I think in all the world, and his name is doubting... oh. We know he has that permanent tag, we come to doubting Thomas. Instead of it being a negative thing, oh, I'm going to be like doubting Thomas, no, you want to be like doubting Thomas. He knew how to doubt his doubts.
And I want you to see how this operates, verse 24. "But Thomas, one of the 12, Didymus," that means twin, "was not with them when Jesus came". When he appeared in that upper room, Thomas was not present. "So the other disciples were saying to him, 'We have seen the Lord!' And he said to them, get this, this is old doubting Thomas, 'Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and unless I put my finger in the print of the nails, and unless my hand into his side, I will not believe.'" Thomas, proof was belief. He said, I've got to have empirical evidence that Jesus, whom I knew was crucified, I was there, and was dead and buried, that God raised him and brought him back to life.
He said, I've got to have proof. Unless, prove to me. Unless, and verse 26, it says, "After eight days His disciples were again inside the upper room, and Thomas with them. And Jesus came, and the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and he said, 'Peace be with you, shalom.' And then he said to Thomas," Thomas is with them. I want you to look at this verse on your screen. "Then he said to Thomas, 'Reach here with your finger,'" that's touching. "'See my hands,'" that's seeing. "'And reach your hand and put it in my side,'" that's proving.
So, we see that Jesus came and took this skeptic, this doubter, and spoke to him in ways that were needed for him to believe. He said, feel, see, proof. That's our Lord, ladies and gentlemen. That's our Lord. And look at the rest of it, it even gets richer. What does Thomas do? Verse 28, "Thomas answered and said as he fell at his feet, 'Lord and God.'" And that's the highest profession of faith you find anywhere in the Bible. He said, you are Lord, you've got my life, and you are God of creation, and he puts those little personal pronouns. He says, you are my Lord, and you are my God.
What a profession, what a profession, what a profession. I want you to leave verse 29 alone for a little bit, and let's go and see the rest of the story. Verse 30, "Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book," and then John tells us why he wrote the Gospel of John. Think with me, "But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name".
Ninety five times in the Gospel of John he uses the word believe. And he says, why have I written this book? He gives us two reasons. He says, I have written this book so you can believe the truth about God revealing himself in Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Lord. And he said, "When you believe, I've written this book so you'll have life, and you'll have life fully here and abundantly forever. That's why I've written this book".
Now, drop back, now we're ready for that little tricky verse, oh my goodness, look at verse 29. Jesus said, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed"? question mark. Jesus said, "Blessed are they who did not see and yet believed". Who are they, the people, the they who did not see and believe? I'll tell you it is, it's you and it's me. That's exactly who it is. Then how are we to believe? John says, "You believe the Word of God, and you believe me as I give witness, because I was a part of the group who touched and saw and proved, and I give my witness that this is true, absolute truth, on that basis. You believe me, the Word of God". That's what John is saying.
Now, hold on to that. In Chantilly, France, a lady who was 90 years old was moving out of her little flat into assisted living, and she was selling everything she had in that little flat, and she brought someone else who handled real estate, and sold the property people would have in their estates, and this lady came out, looked around the little flat, and the lady looked over and saw a picture that was right above her little hot plate there in the kitchen. It's a picture of Jesus. And it was a picture entitled, "Jesus Mocked". And it showed Jesus being mocked by the crowd. And this estate woman said, "Do you know, that that picture may have some value". She said, "I'm not an artist, but I don't know, it may have some value. Do you mind if I get it evaluated with your estate"?
By the way, all the rest of her estate didn't even lead to $6000, but said, "Do you mind if I get it evaluated? And maybe we could sell it". And the 90 year old woman said, you know, "My grandchildren laugh, they call that my crazy Jesus picture". Said, "I look at it every morning with café," and said, "I look at it every night with my hot plate," and said, "I look at that picture all the time". And by the way, it's only 10 inches long and 10 inches high, it's a little bitty thing like this. And so, the estate woman took it and had it appraised, then she got an appraisal of someone who is at the top of the heap of appraising paintings and discovered it was painting by an Italian artist pre-Renaissance, painted in 1280, and it was a very valuable painting.
And so, they took that little painting of the crazy Jesus, according to the grandkids, who were going to get all of her estate, and had it evaluated, and last Sunday, this week, last week, last week, first day of last week, Sunday, last Sunday, they auctioned that little 10 x 10 painting of Jesus being mocked and doubted in the auction house in France, and it sold for $26.8 million. A French gentleman just this week wrote to a newspaper and asked, "Perchance, is madam at this time single"?
Only the French, you just can't beat 'em, can you? Isn't that beautiful? I could have taken that little painting if we had it and passed it around and said, "Now, what do you think this is worth? A little 10 x 10 painting". You know, you could have touched it, you could have seen it, looked at it, you could examine it in order to prove it, man is, well what is this, I don't know, it's funny looking Jesus, it's way back, it's old...
And not anybody here would have any idea of whether it's valid and true and worth anything at all. But that art authority who looked at it and affirmed that it was indeed real and original and very, very valuable, and everybody believed him on the basis of who he was, on the basis of his authoritative understanding of that little painting when he touched it and saw it and proved it. John is saying right here, "You got any doubt about Jesus being Lord and God? On my word, the word of John, I've written this book so you can believe and have a brand new life now and forever".