I have an embarrassing confession. My favorite disciple has always been Thomas. Yes, THAT Thomas. The guy who refused to believe Jesus was alive until he saw it with his own eyes. We don’t get a lot of information about Thomas in the Gospels or anywhere else in scripture. His claim to fame is, and the label he now wears is that he was “Doubting Thomas”.
We see Thomas appear again in John’s Gospel. In John 11:16, he is grumbling that if Jesus is going to go to Galilee and raise Lazarus despite the danger, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” We all know that type guy, don’t we? He was kind of the Eeyore of the disciples. Thomas is cited as having traveled to India after Christ ascended. Tradition holds that he was martyred by being run through with a lance.
Thomas asked the hard questions. What’s interesting is how Jesus reacts to his questions. Jesus didn’t tell Thomas “Just go and have more faith”. Jesus showed Thomas the proof he was seeking. He allowed Thomas to put his hands in the nail marks, and his hand on the wound created in his side when the Roman soldiers pierced him with a spear. In other words, he offered Thomas evidence. And this is why I believe Jesus is not advocating for “Blind Faith” in the famous passage of John 20:29. All Jesus would have had to do was tell Thomas to have more faith if people took the passage to mean what they think it teaches. There would have been no need for Jesus to actually offer proof to Thomas.
Never in Jesus’ ministry did a genuine seeker ask for a sign and get turned away with the phrase “Just have faith”. Jesus always prefaced his teaching or claims to authority with a sign or wonder to authenticate his claims. He didn’t expect people to believe without evidence. And the recorders of the Gospels also make sure we do not have to have blind faith. The Epistle authors were also quick to show that their claims were based on eyewitness accounts.
Begin With Luke, End With John
If you look at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, he starts off with very close to the same phrasing that John ends his Gospel with:
1 Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.
Compare this to the end of John’s Gospel:
“This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”- John 21:24-25
Other Disciples Point To Evidence
Both authors go out of their way to state that they are eyewitnesses, or are reporting eyewitness testimony. Peter makes the point in his second epistle:
“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2 Pe 1:16
Christianity’s Unique Claim
Peter again puts a premium on being an eyewitness to the events he has seen. These events are recorded for us, so we do not have to rely on blind faith. There is no reason that I can see from Scripture that would compel someone to believe that they must trust blindly. As I have said before, we should rejoice in the fact that our Holy book can be tested and verified. Other faith systems don’t have this luxury.
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The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Lk). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.