Before I start sharing my thoughts on this topic with you in regards to this Sunday morning’s message, I would like to mention that this is not the only take on this matter.
- Is Doubt bad or good?
- What does God say about it?
- What should I do when I am doubting?
- What not to do?
Doubt: Job, John, and Thomas
Job, Matthew 11, John 20
Before I start discussing doubt I would like to first define what I mean by the term. The term doubt can be defined as when you start to question your understanding. For example, if you have a pre-conceived idea and you read something, and your idea becomes challenged so you start to wonder which is correct. You are challenged in your thinking to go beyond what you understood as truth. However, when you follow that doubt to the point of unbelief, that is when it becomes sinful.
Now, to my point of discussion. In Matthew 11, we see an encounter with doubt. To set it up, John the Baptist is in prison and is seen questioning if Jesus is the True Messiah. He sends two of his students to ask Jesus for him in verse 2:
And it came to pass, when Jesus ended directing his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. And John having heard in the prison the works of the Christ, having sent two of his disciples, said to him, Art thou He who is coming, or for another do we look?’ And Jesus answering said to themMatthew 11:2-6
,Having gone, declare to John the things that ye hear and see, blind receive sight, and lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and deaf hear, dead are raised, and poor have good news proclaimed, and happy is he who may not be stumbled in me.’
Many people attribute this doubt to his followers; however, my goal is to show you it was John becoming the doubter and the response which Jesus gave him is the ultimate goal to aiding us through our doubt. First, we see it was John the Baptist who was doubting because Jesus responds to the students to go and tell John the things which they had seen and heard. The following words spoken by Jesus are referenced in Isaiah 61. In essence, Jesus tells John to go read the prophets; or in plain modern text, to go read your Bible. Jesus continues by stating the students are to testify of what they had seen. One quick fact here: in Jewish culture two witnesses are needed for something to be considered truth. Thus, it seems as though Christ is telling John and all the rest of us: go read your Bible and ask other Christians their testimony since no one struggles with a unique doubt.
Secondly, I’d like to show you that Jesus never condemned John for doubting. In the book of Job, the reader finds a struggling believer who has been the subject of heavenly warfare and lots of trials. His family, health, possessions, etc. are gone and all he is left with is his wife and three non-encouraging friends. He is introduced to us by God as the most righteous man on the planet. Nonetheless, after all the trials, Job starts to doubt and question God in regards to his suffering. We see throughout the book of Job that God never rebuked him for his doubt. Instead, just as Jesus did with John, He pointed out the truth of His character as God. Jesus, in regards to John, reassured John of His identity. He didn’t answer all His questions with a detailed timeline but rather with a simple trust me. Jesus wants us to trust Him and to believe in His Sovereignty. However, Jesus is not saying we can’t doubt, but that we shouldn’t let it lead us to unbelief in His TRUTH.
That is why Jesus told Thomas in John 20:
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.John 20:24-30
And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Jesus never rebuked him for his doubt. He only pointed to the verity of the answer.
So what have you started to doubt about God in your life? Have you sought His answer or the answer of others? There is an old saying about going to the horse’s mouth and asking… I wonder if you and I should too. After hearing the sermon this morning, I’d have to agree with Jesus and with that old saying. Perhaps we should stop asking our clueless friends or the programmed internet or the wise apologists, and turn to the Author of all knowledge. Who’s with me?