Cheerleading for Tom
I heard another talk yesterday on “Doubting Thomas”, as though that was all that defined him, and I feel like going on a campaign to change his name – he seems to have been stuck with some pretty poor PR! After all there are several other names he could have been given, like Devoted or Courageous. When Lazarus died in Bethany, a place so very near to Jerusalem where feelings were really running murderously high against Jesus, nevertheless a few days later He announced to his disciples that He was going there to wake Lazarus from ‘sleep’. Thomas, obviously anticipating great danger, immediately said to the others “Let us also go, that we may die with Jesus”. That was brave!
He might also have been called Honest or Transparent; when Jesus was talking to His disciples about His imminent death and then His going back to heaven, Thomas didn’t hide his feelings or pretend he understood (like I probably would have) or just mutter under his breath to one of the disciples, something that seemed to go on a lot amongst the others, thinking Jesus was unaware! No, he wasn’t afraid to speak up, and plainly told Jesus he didn’t understand where He was going, or the way to get there, as Jesus seemed to expect them to know. Thomas probably put into words and spoke out what they were all thinking in their hearts and minds – I love people doing that when I’m not bold or direct enough to voice my thoughts or questions, don’t you?
The church has given the name Doubting to Thomas of course from Jesus’ own words when He told Thomas to stop doubting, and believe. And I think that is why I so identify with Thomas, because if I, like him, hadn’t been with all the other disciples previously, when they’d all seen the risen Jesus, I would have wanted to see Him for myself; I wouldn’t have trusted my own wild longings and imaginings without solid, concrete proof. And after all, the other disciples had first thought they were seeing a ghost, not their Risen Lord. I just wonder why Thomas hadn’t been with them all initially – was he so stricken, so heartbroken, he couldn’t bear to be with other people around – did he just have to withdraw and go off on his own for a while? Whatever the reason, Thomas’s high point of faith came as he proclaimed “My Lord and my God!” His exultant words echo down the years, drawing worship from our hearts – should we perhaps name him Worshipping Thomas?
Jesus then further draws us in, pronouncing a blessing upon all of us down the ages right through to the 21st century, who unlike Thomas and the disciples, have not seen Him on this earth, yet alone risen from the dead, and yet believe. We of course have the wonderful privilege of the gift of Holy Spirit who helps us discern things spiritually instead of just what we can work out rationally, Who testifies with our spirit, Who reveals things to us, Who helps us in our weakness; so we are way ahead of the game compared to our stout-hearted Thomas, still a few weeks away from Pentecost. So let’s remind ourselves of the words of 1 Peter 1:8, and allow ourself a few British Hallelujahs!
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”