If at First You Don’t … Doubt

So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.  It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”  Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

  • John 11:6-16

“A singular mixture of faith and unbelief!  Thomas so believes his Master that he is willing to die with him.  He so doubts him that, although the Savior had plainly told him he was immortal till his work was done, yet he is afraid his Master and all of them will be put to death.  The Lord knows us better than we know ourselves, and the Lord accepts us notwithstanding our infirmities.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

People focus on Thomas’ doubt regarding Jesus’ resurrection, but the doubt within Thomas was a trend.  He was bold in following Jesus to Judea, while in safety and the threat was many miles away.  But he doubted that they would survive.  Now add to this that only Peter followed Jesus to the kangaroo court that night, and even then, Peter stayed outside at a safe distance.  The other disciples scattered, as Jesus prophesied (Mark 14:27), and as prophesied in Zechariah 13:7.

It seems Thomas had a go-to move.  If at first you don’t succeed, doubt that you ever will.

Even having a strong faith in Jesus, he doubted.  Yes, Jesus proved His Power over, and over again, but that was healing and raising people from the dead.  It was not facing the Sanhedrin and the Romans in Jerusalem.  There was Power and then there was earthly power.  The Power of God is limitless, but we must have unshaking faith to see it.  The earthly power is visible, seen in shields, swords, and spears.

As we start Holy Week, we start with the Triumphal Entry.  There was excitement.  There was jubilation.  There was great praise for the King of kings.  And there was doubt, fear, and the foreboding thought that the Twelve might just die along with Jesus.  In one dramatic (video) recreation of Jesus’ entrance into the city, it depicts the disciples muttering among themselves, wanting the crowd to quiet down, afraid that those who wished to kill Jesus would capture them.

In Luke’s account of the Triumphal Entry, it is the Pharisees who wished Jesus to rebuke the crowd (Luke 19:39-40).  Jesus’ reply was that if the crowd were silent, the stones would cry out.  But might not at least a few of the disciples have doubted and wanted a quieter entrance into the city?  The Pharisees complained about the disciples getting the crowd riled, but might the disciples be having second thoughts, at least a few, at least one?

And to think, upon Pentecost, about 57 days later, when the Holy Spirit had entered them, these same doubting men boldly stood and proclaimed the Gospel.  And about 3,000 people were added to the church that day (Acts 2:41).

And do we have doubts?  If Jesus is in our hearts, the Holy Spirit is within us also.  Do we have the bravery of the disciples during the Triumphal Entry, maybe doubting but willing to die for their Lord?  Or do we have crippling doubts, doubts that rob us of some of God’s Power that dwells within us?

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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