Thomas: At His Worst -- and Best
For 2,000 years, the apostle Thomas has been remembered as “doubting Thomas.” But to define him by what takes place in John 20 — and only what takes place in that chapter — is unfair. There was more to the life of Thomas, specifically what we read in John 11. Thomas was just a person like you and me. He had his ups and downs, and his testimony is designed to create a faith in Jesus within us.
Let’s not be so hard on Thomas. He spent three years closely following Jesus. He heard His teachings. He witnessed the miracles. But Thomas was just like the other apostles, who also doubted that Jesus was alive (Mark 16:9-14). We should remember all the apostles as doubters. The same thing that convinced Thomas was what convinced the rest of the apostles.
We all respond in some way to Jesus’ resurrection. With Thomas, we see two possible responses. We can disbelieve, as Thomas and his fellow apostles did at first. Or, we can fall on our knees before Christ and say: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Every minute of every day, we are all responding to the resurrection of Christ. And every minute we delay the response, “My Lord and my God,” we are responding by saying, “I do not believe.”
Earlier in the gospel of John, we read of Thomas at his best. In John 11:1-16, Jesus’ desire was to return to Judea to raise Lazarus from the dead. But the apostles were afraid for Him to go back, because that would likely mean His death — and their death. However, it’s not Peter, James or John who rallies the troops. It’s Thomas: “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (v. 16).
What we see in Thomas is an act of sacrifice and commitment. Is this is the same Thomas we’ve come to know as “doubting Thomas”? It is. He didn’t always have the answers. He, at times, doubted, and wasn’t afraid to voice his doubt. But Thomas was a great servant. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all done things we shouldn’t have done, and did not do things we should have done. But that didn’t stop Thomas from doing great things for God, and it shouldn’t stop us, either.