One of the most common questions is, “How do we know it’s true?” Youth want to understand how the truth of Christianity is known. The magnitude of this question increased with the wealth of information available from the information age. However, this need to know isn’t a random desire dreamed up to annoy adults. The need to know, that is, the need to be sure that what is believed is true, is a God-given intellectual desire.
This is why Jesus willingly addressed Thomas’ question regarding His resurrection. As you recall, several of the disciples saw the resurrected Lord. However, Thomas was not one of those who initially saw Jesus after His resurrection. The disciples told Thomas “We have seen the Lord!” (John 12:25). However, this was not good enough for Thomas. Instead of simply believing the quality testimony of those who knew Jesus perosnally, Thomas replied, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger in the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 12:25). Clearly, Thomas needed a basis for knowing that Jesus’ resurrection was, in fact, true.
We are not told how the disciples responded to this skepticism but Scripture does fill us in on how Jesus addressed the issue. Eight days later Jesus appeared yet again. One difference with this post-resurrection appearance is the presence of Thomas. After speaking to the group as a whole (“Peace be with you”), Jesus turned to Thomas and said, “Reach here with your finger, and see my hands; and reach here your hand and put it into my side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:26-27).
Parents can draw several principles from this passage:
- Not everyone will believe a trustworthy testimony, and that is okay! Application, youth will not always believe their parents, pastors, or other source even if what they say is true. Wanting to find out what is true, even with good testimony, is just fine.
- Not every challenge needs to be answered right away. Notice that Jesus did not appear to Thomas for eight days. One can imagine the questions Thomas had, the claims he heard (and rejected), and the troubled heart he wrestled with in the mean time. Application: sometimes an issue needs to be thought through for a while before a good answer is given. . . or accepted.
- It is important to address questions directly as Jesus did. While still kind, Jesus answered Thomas’ objection directly. He did not say, “just believe.” Application: avoid answers that distract from the issue at hand.
- It is important to avoid dismissing honest questions. Too often Thomas gets a bad reputation in most churches. However, if you read the Scriptures on Thomas’ final time with the resurrected Lord, he is not rebuked but embraced. Application: take honest questions seriously. There is no need to panic when some youth do not understand, or even accept, key biblical facts. . . yet.
- We will not have an answer to every issue. Notice that the original disciples could not provide the necessary information to satisfy Thomas. Application: the comes a point when the person needs to encounter our Lord for himself/herself. In the mean time, avoid the (usually implied) false standard that Christians must have every answer to every question or they have none.
- Strive towards a changed life. Thomas and the disciples lived out the truth of Christ’s resurrection. We must do so too. Application: now that you know this is true, it needs to impact your life.
As a parent, be sure to take baby steps in helping your children know the truth of the Christian faith. Be kind to them, and yourself. It is likely you will not have answers to every question at this time. That is okay. You too are a work in progress but do not give up. Simply pursue finding solid answers to the questions. It is a weekly, even daily, journey. And keep up with Family Apologia for answers. More posts are added regularly!