I feel sorry for Thomas, really. Poor guy makes one simple statement and gets dubbed “Doubting Thomas” for eternity. He is a household name to describe all those who don’t have faith or who tend to be a little more “realistic”. However, when I read about Thomas, I have a totally different view of him.
There are four notable occasions that I always remember of Thomas’s actions.
First, when Lazarus died and Jesus wanted to head back to the same place where people were trying to kill Him, His disciples tried to reason with Him to not go there. Then Thomas chimes in, “Let’s go and die with Him!” My take-away: leader; brave.
Second, when Jesus is talking all theologically and metaphorically about Himself and heaven, He says, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas again chimes in, interrupting Jesus’ poetic speel, and says, “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going.” My take-away: practical; someone who values directness; someone good with maps. I don’t know if this statement was a “Hold up, Jesus, you lost me way back yonder,” or a “Jesus, stop beating around the bush. Just say what you mean, please.” Whichever it was, Thomas was a simple, honest, and straight-forward guy.
Third, when Thomas goes to the upper room and finds that everyone has seen Jesus but him, he is a little skeptical. Now, I don’t know if the twelve (male) disciples were anything like the guys on our team (or any other group of guys that I have ever known), but I don’t think we have the full context. Why did Thomas doubt? Could it be that he thought everyone was just trying to play a joke on him? If he was the simple and practical guy that he seems to be, it could be that he had been the brunt of a lot of jokes and was a bit cynical by this point. One too many of these jokes, and you don’t believe anything you hear, especially when the whole group is enthusiastically affirming it. “Nope, not this time. I’m not gong to be the blonde anymore. Too embarrassing.” Insist too much, and I can just hear him yelling, “Unless I put my fingers into the nail marks on his hands and put my hand in his side, I WILL NOT BELIEVE YOU!” Jesus shows up. Oops. My take-away: simply an oops moment.
It is also quite possible that he was incredibly affected by Jesus’ death. Why wasn’t he with the disciples when Jesus came? If he was struggling to accept Jesus’ death, it might have been a huge stretch for him to accept His resurrection. We may never know the answer to that question, but thank God this was not his final nor was it his most important action.
Have you made errors in judgment in your life? Have you not trusted God like you know you should? Has it cost you in some areas? Chin up, my friend, for your story is not over. That action does not define you (even if you have become a household name). Let’s take a look at the fourth action of “Doubting Thomas”.
Eventually Thomas made it to India to preach the Gospel. Records say that he baptized many people and there is still a group there today identified by his name. Although there are different accounts as to how he died, the most traditional is that he died a martyr at the hands of soldiers who pierced him with four spears. My take-away: brave, unyielding, dedicated, trusting.
It doesn’t matter what your story has been thus far. What matters is the ending. Meditate on what Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14: “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it (perfection), but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”