Another Look by David Faust
Poor Thomas. His name has become synonymous with wavering, questioning faith. We label him Doubting Thomas despite the fact that it’s reasonable to ask for evidence before believing, and despite the fact that the rest of the disciples had their doubts too. Thomas wasn’t alone in his skepticism. The other apostles also considered the initial reports of Jesus’ resurrection nonsense until they saw the risen Lord with their own eyes (Luke 24:11).
On one occasion Thomas demonstrated exceptional loyalty and courage. Upon hearing about the death of Lazarus, Jesus headed toward the vicinity of Jerusalem where he was a marked man. Thomas bravely told the others, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). Doubting Thomas was Daring Thomas that day.
But his uncertainty surfaced another time. Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). What a question to ask Jesus—at the Last Supper, no less! It was like a panicky student asking his teacher to explain the entire semester’s lessons on the day before the final exam. It was like an experienced soldier forgetting what the commander had covered back in basic training.
Thomas didn’t know which way was up. How could he tell Jesus, “We don’t know where you are going”? The best teacher ever to walk the earth had spent the last three years educating his disciples about where he was going. Why didn’t they grasp his vision?
Jesus was going to the cross. He was going to rise from the dead. He was going to Heaven. He was going to prepare a place for us. He was going to send the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter. The Good Shepherd was going to lay down his life for his sheep. He was going to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. Months before, “Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things . . . and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21). That was his vision.
Thomas spoke for all who wrestle with God. “Lord, we don’t know where you are going.” Oh, no? Or is it that we don’t want to accept his vision and follow his leadership? Why do we resist what the Lord has told us plainly over and over again?
Thomas continued, “So how can we know the way?” And Jesus responded, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Some of the disciples didn’t get it then, and many still don’t get it today. (Just quote John 14:6 and listen to critics complain about Jesus’ narrow claims.) When Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us,” Jesus expressed exasperation and said, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:8, 9).
Jesus knows which way is up. We can’t go up to the Father except through him. He not only points to Heaven’s pathway; he is the pathway. He doesn’t just talk about truth; he embodies it. He is the way, truth, and life when confusion, lies, and death threaten to overwhelm us.
That’s why for us, as for Thomas, the issue is not whether it’s permissible to wrestle with doubt or to ask the Lord an honest question. The issue is: What will we do with Jesus’ answer?