Thomas is often infamously remembered as “Doubting Thomas,” but is this an accurate label? Indeed Thomas refused to accept Christ’s resurrection without physical evidence, but how does that set him apart from the others mentioned in the Gospel accounts?
Mary Magdalene thought that someone had stolen Jesus’ body before she encountered Jesus in person (John 20:2). When she brought the news to the 11 disciples, they thought she was crazy (Luke 24:11). Jesus rebuked all of the disciples — not just Thomas — “for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe” (Mark 16:13–14). In what might have been Jesus’ last appearance before his ascension there were still “some who doubted” (Matthew 28:17). Other than the single attention he gets in John 20:24-25, why label Thomas in such a way?
Thomas serves as a wonderful model of modern faith. Instead, many Christians hold him up as a negative example because of his initial doubts. He expressed his doubts fully and openly, unlike many Christians today. When Jesus answered these doubts, he gladly believed. His doubts were not arrogant, rebellious or self-centered, but rather his doubts had a greater purpose—he wanted to know the truth.
When we struggle with doubt, should we take encouragement from Thomas? Is it right to ask God to prove Himself to satisfy our doubts? Or must we take whatever He chooses to offer us and be content with it? Consider the stories of Gideon’s fleece (Judges 6:36-40), Elijah’s test (1 Kings 18:16-39), and yes — Thomas.