Concerning one of the most fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, Thomas was an unbeliever. The others had seen the resurrected Christ but Thomas wasn’t present. Being a man of strong convictions and demanding reasons for his faith, Thomas said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20.25). The Ten spoke in absolute terms about the risen Lord. His very existence was miraculous; certainly the fact that He could exist among ordinary humans bearing the scars of the cross (including His riven side) was a sign of the supernatural!
Thomas demanded a sign before he would believe. The sign that he demanded was miraculous in one form or another from start to finish; nevertheless, he demanded a sign. Jesus had a choice; He could have told Thomas that he could either believe on the basis of the ordinary evidence around him, or He could grant Thomas’ wish and allow him to view the extraordinary evidence that he requested. Either way, these events have a bearing on the question, “Does the Bible teach that it is wrong to request a sign from someone who professes to be a prophet?” Thomas was asking for a sign and Jesus was in the position to either grant the sign or chastise Thomas for requesting such a thing. The actions of Jesus respond to the question at hand; they forever put to rest the question we are asking.
“And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’” (John 20.26-27). What evidence did Jesus offer Thomas to bring him to the point of believing? It was supernatural evidence, evidence that only could exist as a direct result of the supernatural. Jesus had every opportunity to scold Thomas for his stubbornness, but He didn’t. He simply provided the supernatural evidence that Thomas requested and brought him to faith! This account is a model for all time; the very text itself bears this out.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20.29-31).
Notice two facts from this text: First, Jesus did many other signs which are not written in this book (i.e. the book of John). The use of the word other in the text demands that the demonstration to Thomas be recognized as a sign! Secondly, the very purpose of miraculous signs, whether viewed first hand or learned about through credible witnesses, is to produce faith! I believe in the resurrected Jesus today for the very same reason that Thomas believed in Him two thousand years ago! The signs bear witness to the fact that He was the very Son of God. These signs demand that I believe them for what they are. My other option is to deny the signs. I chose to believe the signs because their record is credible and the only way they could have occurred is for Jesus to have been the One He claimed to be.
It is not wrong to demand a sign in order to believe; in fact, it is the way God planned it! He did not leave Himself without witness, the witness that only He through His eternal power could provide. The next time some one claims to be a spokesperson for God, we have the obligation to demand to see his credentials; if he has none, dismiss him as the false prophet that he is!
1. According to John 20, what was the purpose of the signs that are recorded in John’s gospel account?
2. Why did Jesus not rebuke Thomas if he was wrong to demand a sign in order to bring about faith?
3. Are signs a part of true faith today? Why would anyone believe without the benefit of signs? Can the evidence that signs offer be of benefit when conveyed by written record? THINK!!!
4. If Satan uses lying signs and wonders, is it wise to critically examine any and all signs that someone offers as credentials for a self-proclaimed prophet? Why or why not?
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