Let’s Also Go, So We Can Die With Him
So you’re a doubter. Or maybe you know someone who is. You might be interested to hear the story of a doubter in the Bible.
Here’s the scene: The Jews tried to kill Jesus in Judea near Jerusalem. So Jesus is hanging with his disciples a safe distance away in the area of Jericho. It’s then that Jesus hears about his good friend coming down with a fatal illness. People are begging him to come and help because things have gotten to the point where he’s the only possible solution. The only problem is Jesus’ friend has fallen ill near Jerusalem. So if Jesus goes to help, he’ll have to return to the same area where the Jews just tried to assassinate him. But Jesus says, without any apparent concern, “Let’s go there again.”
The disciples react, they say, “The Jews just tried to stone you, and you’re going there again?”
And it’s at this point that Thomas, commonly known as “Doubting Thomas,” says something amazing. He says, “Let’s also go, so we can die with him.”
“Let’s also go, so we can die with him,” Thomas said. That’s the kind of guy Thomas was, he was totally devoted. He was an all in kind of guy, when it came to Jesus. (see John Chapter 11)
What Everyone Else Is Thinking
Another time, at the last supper–not long before Jesus will be led away to the illegal legal proceedings where they’ll condemn him to death–Jesus says, “I’m going to prepare a place for you, I’ll come back to get you so you can be where I am. You know the way to the place I’m going.”
All the disciples had to be sitting there thinking, “Wait. What? We know the way to the place you’re going? Seriously? We have no idea.” But none of them had the fortitude to say a single word.
But Thomas is an independent thinker. He intently considers Jesus’ words and he’s not satisfied. He’s not going to let it go. He has the courage to speak up. He says, “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going, so how can we know the way?” (See John Chapter 14)
Thomas was a unique personality. He was different than the other eleven disciples. He was courageous, and brutally honest, and thoughtful, and realistic.
And he was devoted.
Maybe he was not unlike you.
Yet even though he was different, Jesus chose Thomas to be one of the twelve. Thomas was a part of the twelve who was closest to him. Thomas was part of the twelve who spent three years by Jesus’ side. Thomas was part of the twelve who would ultimately lose their lives because they followed him. Why would Jesus do that? He had to know Thomas would doubt him. If it were me, I never would have chosen Thomas. I would have culled him out of the selection process right away. But Jesus…
Jesus and Thomas
After the death of Jesus, on the evening of the first day of the week, the remaining disciples were together, except for one: Thomas. Some people grieve by getting together with friends, some need some time alone. Apparently Thomas was the kind of person who needed some time alone. So he missed the gathering. And Jesus showed up in the midst of them, but he missed it. They got it, they got Jesus, but Thomas didn’t get it, he missed it. The others saw the reality of Jesus, before Thomas did.
Later they tried to tell Thomas they had seen the Lord, but Thomas, with typical brutal honesty said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
And why would he? The other disciples didn’t believe right away. When the women came with their report, the other disciples didn’t buy it. It took awhile for them, might it not take a little longer for Thomas?
A week after that the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them.
And he stood among them. He looked at Thomas, and he did not condemn him for his doubt. Jesus never called him “Doubting Thomas,” we did that. Instead he gave him just what Thomas asked for. Jesus said to him, “Thomas, put your finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand, and put it into my side.”
“Stop doubting and believe,” Jesus said.
Jesus knew, he knew about Thomas. He knew what he said about putting his fingers where the nails were, and putting his hand into his side. He knew about Thomas’s doubts. But he loved Thomas anyway.
He received him to Himself.
And Thomas said,
“My Lord and my God.”
Do you doubt as Thomas doubted? Then be devoted as Thomas was devoted. Don’t give up as Thomas didn’t give up. Don’t give in as Thomas didn’t give in. Be courageous as Thomas was. Gather with the believers as Thomas did.
Ultimately Jesus will meet with you. Eventually Jesus will reveal himself to you. Because Jesus,
…is able to do exceeding abundantly above all you can ask or even think. Ephesians 3:20
(See John Chapter 20)
[Image via Evan Courtney – Creative Commons]
Ray Pritchard, The Apostle Who Would Not Believe: Christ Speaks to the Problem of Broken Dreams, Keep Believing Ministries
Thomas the Apostle, Justus.Anglican.org
Doubting Thomas–John 20:19-31, Churchmouse Campanologist