Jesus and the Doubting (John 20:19-31)

Sermon Recap

Every person comes face to face with doubt at some point in their lives. Our passage today sheds light on how Jesus addressed the biggest doubter in the Bible and what that means for us in our doubts.

The Heft of Doubt

It's hard to blame Thomas for doubting. He had given up everything to follow Jesus so when the other disciples tell him he's alive, it makes sense that he thought it was a cruel prank. Yet when Thomas finds out that these reports are true, there is only one response; "My Lord and my God." Our doubts matter because the answers to them are life-changing. To ignore them or belittle them is to do so at our own peril. We ought to explore them and ask hard questions because the truth matters so much for how we are to live.

Our Honesty in Doubt

We typically faith and doubt are opposites but they aren't. Faith and control are. Honest doubt is just like honest faith in that it's humble, recognizes its insufficiency, and allows for mystery. Control refuses to embrace any of those things but is proud in its powers, self-sufficient, and demands to have all answers on its own terms. This is why doubt often leads to faith and faith should allow for doubt to exist. It is when we try to take control of our own lives that we lose faith and become dishonest with our doubts.

Our Hope in Doubt

So how do you move forward in the face of doubt? First, listen to the testimonies of the eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. Jesus appeared  to them for this very purpose, so that  they would tell the world that he was Lord and King. Second, know that Jesus is patiently with you in your doubts, not abandoning you but giving you space to explore and listening to your prayers. Last, stop putting conditions on your belief and holding God hostage. If you find yourself saying, "I'll believe if XYZ happens...." then you want XYZ to be your functional savior,  not Jesus. Jesus will not have it any other way. Drop your conditions and find Jesus to be exactly who he says he is.

Sermon Resources

Podcast mentioned in introduction - Radiolab, "Rocked by Doubt"

“There is no such thing as a neutral inquiry when it comes to questions about God.”

- Mark Galli

“Honest doubt, what I would call devotional doubt, is marked, it seems to me, by three qualities: humility, which makes one’s attitude impossible to celebrate; insufficiency, which makes it impossible to rest; and mystery, which continues to tug you upward – or at least outward – even in your lowest moments. Such doubt is painful – more painful, in fact, than any of the other forms – but its pain is active rather than passive, purifying rather than stultifying.”

- Christian Wiman

“The way forward is the way of faith, a faith that does not deny questioning but orients questions toward understanding and grounds them in love. For faith is the pretext for questioning well, the atmosphere that sustains patient, longing inquiry.”

- Matthew Lee Anderson