I think about Thomas sometimes.
What do we really know about him? All I was ever taught was that he was the “doubter”. “Doubting Thomas” were his first and last names as far as I knew for most of my life.
We love labels don’t we? I suppose humans always have. We tend to categorize everything in some way. Maybe it just helps us remember.
It seems odd though, doesn’t it, that we would label a man’s entire life based on one event out of all his days? Granted, the fact that he was doubting God has something to do with the importance of the event.
I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating – I have often wondered if, after three years of Jesus teaching the disciples through parable and allegory, that after He died and rose again – I have to wonder if at least one of the disciples didn’t think, “You mean you were serious?!”
But here’s the thing: Thomas wasn’t the only doubter. In fact, when Thomas finally saw the resurrected Jesus, the others had already seen Him a week earlier, and they were still locking the doors! He was in a locked room full of people who were scared to go out into the world because they were doubtful of God as well.
And, of course, now that I think about it, I doubt Him too sometimes. Every day in fact.
Every moment of worry I experience is a moment of doubt, because I’m choosing not to apply the belief that He actually cares so much for me that He will keep me close to Him. Every time I choose not to forgive someone, or accept forgiveness, is a refusal to accept His sacrifice for me.
And He forgives me for it every stinking time.
Thomas was a man who was willing to die with Jesus. In one instance he urges all of the disciples to go with Jesus so “we may die with Him.” That sounds like a devoted man to me.
So yes, Thomas doubted, and it was his doubt which Jesus used to point out that the importance of belief in Him without seeing Him. Jesus was pointing out the level of faith required to trust Him based on the word of those who know Him.
Sure, Thomas doubted, but he also believed.
This wasn’t the first time they had witnessed a resurrection either. The most famous was Lazarus, but there were others as well. The obvious difference was that those were things Jesus had done for others. He was the source. They all doubted that He could, or would, do it for Himself. They had walked into this with the idea that Jesus was there to liberate them from an oppressive government. Their understanding of the role of the Messiah was limited to their current circumstances, much as it is today. All they saw up to this point was their loss of a leader. The fact that He was there among them was proof that He didn’t come to do what we want the way we want it done.
So, Thomas was there to voice my own doubts. Thomas was there to touch the unhealed wounds of a physically resurrected Jesus for me. Thomas was there to hear Him say,
“Oh yes. I was most definitely serious.”
©Dan Bode 2021