Thomas - The Doubter


I.         Introduction


A.      Studying through the twelve apostles of the Lamb


1.        Peter – man of Zeal

2.        Andrew the Soul-Winner

3.        James the Hot-headed

4.        John the Beloved

5.        Philip, the Active Apostle

6.        Bartholomew, or Nathanael as he is called in the Gospel of John

7.        Last week, Matthew, the Tax-Collector

8.        This week, it is Thomas


B.       The cool thing we learn about Thomas is the way that the Lord has time for people who are struggling to follow Him, understand Him, and completely trust Him

C.       Most everyone starts off as a “Doubting Thomas.” But thank God it is not how you start out that makes the difference – it is how you FINISH!


II.       Background


A.      We have looked at the “BIG TIME” apostles already – lots of Scripture about Peter, and James and John, and even more about the Apostle Paul.

B.       But the Lord still directs our attention on the little known apostles as well, because they have some super-valuable things they learned that we all need to desperately learn!

C.       Here is another man from the area around the Sea of Galilee.

D.      Did you know that ALL the twelve apostles were NOT from the Jerusalem area – but from the area we might compare with County Kerry area – Galilee. All of them were from “lower-class” areas! AMEN!

E.       His father’s name was Alphaeus – so his brothers were: Matthew, and James the Less (the second James of the two apostles named james)

F.       He had two names:


1.        Thomas

2.        Dydimus

3.        Both simply mean “twin”


G.       Let’s acquaint ourselves with Thomas, and maybe see some of ourselves in him – maybe some of Thomas in ourselves!


III.     Message


A.      His Simple Calling (Mt 10:3)


1.        Same as all the other twelve

2.        All start off with the same call, and the same goal


a.       Call – to follow Jesus


1)       To watch, learn from by example

2)       To exchange all their old habits for His new ones

3)       To experience everything that He experienced


b.       Goal – to become fishers of men, builders of lives, to please and glorify the God who made us


3.        The devil hates simple things (2Cor 11:3) – seeks to corrupt and ruin our simplicity that is found in following Christ


a.       He makes big of our confusion

b.       He emphasizes obstacles and disappointments

c.       He offers supposedly easier paths – that all end in disaster


4.        This is what happened with Thomas


B.       His Conflicts


1.        Let’s Meet Pessimistic Thomas (John 11:1-16)


a.       Lazarus’ Sickness (11:1-4)


1)       Become gravely ill

2)       Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha send for Jesus

3)       It takes a whole day for them to travel to get to Jesus and let him know about his friend Lazarus


b.       Jesus’ Delay (11:5-6)


1)       Note those words – Jesus LOVED Martha, Mary and Lazarus

2)       The things that were about to happen were not because He ignored them, or was being cruel at all

3)       It was all the plan and will of God so that something wonderful would happen

4)       So, Jesus waits an additional TWO days before acting on the request, the plea’s of Mary and Martha

5)       It has so far been THREE days now since Mary and Martha sent for Jesus


c.       The Apostle’s Confusion (11:7-15)


1)       The apostles, and all the disciples around them begin to get worried


a)       They are headed back down to the area around Jerusalem

b)       The Jews there, and especially the leaders all previously wanted to kill Jesus

c)       To go back there might be suicide!

d)       Why would Jesus risk His life for a friend who is sick, and maybe already dead?


2)       Jesus informs them,


a)       Live while it is light and daytime

b)       Lazarus is asleep and needs to be awakened


3)       The disciples are happy for Lazarus being asleep – why wake him? Why travel 40 miles to wake somebody up?

4)       But Jesus explains, sleep is another Christian word for death for the believer! Only sleep. Death is final. Sleep, can be awakened!


d.       Thomas’ Defeat (11:16)


1)       You would think the apostles would get excited about the prospects of seeing a resurrection!

2)       You would think Thomas would say, THIS I HAVE GOT TO SEE!

3)       But instead, watch Thomas!


a)       Let’s go with Jesus

b)       And Let’s die with Him there!

c)       What’s Thomas saying?


(i)       We have left all to follow Jesus

(ii)     There is nothing but death down there – Lazarus, and the threat of death by the Jews

(iii)    So, if Jesus dies, I guess we will die too

(iv)   So, let’s get on with it!

(v)     Talk about depressing! This guy sees only the negative, and the defeat, and the obstacle, and the trouble, and the hardships, and the pain, and the death


d)       I hate Pessimism


(i)      A tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view.

(ii)    The belief that the evil in the world outweighs the good.


e.       Overcome by the Power of God (11:17,32-45)


1)       Thank God Jesus sees beyond OUR abilities and obstacles!

2)       Not another word from or about Thomas, but Thomas saw what happened next

3)       As Jesus pressed on amongst the gloom and defeat

4)       And then as Jesus cried out, “Lazarus Come Forth!”

5)       And then a four-day long dead-man waddle out of the tomb!


f.        But Thomas’ problems went deep – not all of them were conquered at once


2.        Let’s Meet Slow Thomas (John 14:1-7)


a.       Just after the last Supper, walking on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane

b.       Jesus says, don’t be troubled – trust Me

c.       Now watch carefully


1)       I go to prepare a place for you in My Father’s House – the city of the New Jerusalem

2)       And since I am going, that means that I will be back for you – to get you and bring you there with me

3)       Where I go you know – heaven

4)       AND, the WAY to get there, you know!


d.       Thomas stops Jesus from speaking right there


1)       We don’t know where you are going


a)       He, and ALL the apostles thought He was going to Jerusalem, to take over – to be King

b)       Jesus was talking about something entirely different than their expectations


2)       We don’t know the way


a)       That’s why we are following YOU

b)       Our way led us into sin, and into debt, and into trouble

c)       We are following you to a better life


e.       Without addressing the issue of ruling as king yet, Jesus responds with the most wonderful of truths


1)       I am not just leading you a certain way, I AM THE WAY

2)       I am not just teaching you truth, I AM THE TRUTH

3)       I am not just changing your life, I AM LIFE ITSELF!


f.        NOBODY can get to heaven, to the Father, except by means of Me!


1)       Mohammed is OUT!

2)       Buddha’s eight fold path is a dead end!

3)       Shiva’s wisdom is only as good as a dead cat!

4)       Confucius is only confusion.

5)       Mary is quite contrary!

6)       All the Saints are sorry!

7)       The Church is crippled.

8)       The world is only wacko!


g.       And, if you had only known ME, you would know both the way, AND known God the Father, whom you know so little about!

h.       The slowness of Thomas was not only a problem of Thomas, but with all of the apostles – slow to accept things because they were not what they expected.

i.         Did you know, our hindrance to growth is in our expectations (Mt 18:3,4), and our dis-interest factor – that we really aren’t paying attention!


3.        Let’s Meet Doubting Thomas (John 20:19-25)


a.       Jesus has died


1)       All the apostles saw Him crucified, and perish

2)       All the apostles saw Him buried

3)       As far as they were concerned Jesus was dead, DEAD!


b.       Three days, and three nights pass – an eternity for people with no hope!

c.       On Sunday morning, four women come running from the tomb exclaiming that the body of Jesus is gone (Jn 20:1,2)

d.       Peter and John investigate (Jn 20:3-10) Come away very surprised

e.       Then later that evening, guess who shows up? Jesus Himself (Jn 20:19,20)

f.        But WHO was not there? Thomas!

g.       Do you know WHY Thomas was not there with the other disciples? Spiritual Despondency


1)       Thomas was not a skeptic like Nathaniel was, but a doubter – someone who didn’t really believe at all

2)       These disciples were meeting with doors locked for fear of the Jews (John 20:19).

3)       Other examples of despondency:


a)       Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-4, 18); assured 7,000 left.

b)        John the Baptist (Matt. 11:1-6).

c)       Later, Peter and others would go fishing (John 21:2-3).

d)       Many today!


(i)       Despondent about their troubles

(ii)     Despondent about their weakness

(iii)    Despondent about failures

(iv)   Despondent about other people’s failures


h.       Thomas’s doubt affected his ability to trust the Lord, no matter how many times Jesus told him, and all the others – and even carefully proved to them that they could completely trust Him, and believe on Him

i.         Demands that his faith must be factual, and without question – which is not bad – but it had already been that, and it had not been enough! ***

j.         There is a doubting Thomas in every one of us


1)       Doubts the promises of God, when the way seems dark, and hard

2)       Doubts the presence of God

3)       Doubts the Power of God when the heart is overwhelmed


k.       Thomas MISSED meeting Jesus because he allowed HIS way of thinking (defeated) to affect his faith – even though he was TOLD by all the other apostles that Jesus was alive, and had been there in the upper room with them!



C.       His Conversion (John 20:26-31)


1.        Notice that Jesus gives us all so many second chances

2.        One Sunday again, Jesus steps through closed doors, and stands in the midst of a group of scared disciples, and says, “Hey, calm down! It’s Me”

3.        Then, He turns and faces a white-faced Thomas and said, Here are my hands, and here is my side. Test Me, and prove Me! Don’t be faithless anymore, but believing!

4.        To this, Thomas falls flat on the ground at the foot of the risen Saviour and cries out – My Lord, and My God!


a.       My Lord! The Lord, the boss of my life – from now on! Salvation

b.       My God! Not just THE God, but personally MY GOD! Not Abraham’s God, or Peter’s God, and not just the Saviour, or My Jesus, But GOD in the flesh!


5.        Now, THAT is Conversion! AMEN!

6.        Thomas believed because he saw, and handled Jesus – blessed (Jn 20:29)

7.        We are more blessed when we confidently trust His words. Jesus can’t be appearing every Sunday morning in Blarney to prove His resurrection. He did that for 40 days, and now says, trust my WORDS!


D.      His Course


1.        Stays with the Disciples (Jn 21:1-3)  – no matter where they are going – not going to miss out on anything again

2.        Becomes A Man of prayer (Acts 1:13)


a.       Conquered his pessimism

b.       Conquered his slowness in belief

c.       Conquered all his doubts – answered prayers – paid careful attention to what he said to God, and asked for!


3.        Turns a pagan heathen Nation to the Lord – India


a.       2,500 miles east of Jerusalem!

b.       Spent his life preaching, witnessing, and started eight churches before being martyred in India


IV.    Application/Conclusion


A.      Note the three things that were IN Thomas that could have destroyed him


1.        Pessimism

2.        Slowness – not really listening

3.        Doubt – constant doubt


B.       All were carefully conquered and overcome by such a loving Saviour’s patience with him

C.       The same is true in your life – Jesus patiently works on all of us – drawing us to a closer faith in Him

D.      Are you saved?

E.       Are you struggling to follow?


1.        Struggling with doubts

2.        Struggling with no interest

3.        Struggling with pessimism


F.       Thomas is a great encouragement

G.       Don’t miss a meeting


1.        Sunday morning AND evening

2.        Wednesday evening at 7pm

3.        Saturday evening at 7pm prayer meeting

4.        Any other time we can get together!

Craig Ledbetter

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