You've Heard of Thomas, No Doubt
"Let us also go, so that we may die with Him."

By Jon W. Quinn

Thomas was one of the twelve disciples that Jesus chose to be His apostles and witnesses to the world (Luke 6:12-16). He is called “Didymus” as a nickname, which means “twin” (John 11:16). After the resurrection of Jesus, he is one of seven disciples fishing on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus appears on the shore and has breakfast with them. Some suggest this may indicate that he is Galilean.

Most familiar with the Bible are well aware of one statement, an expression of doubt in the resurrection of Jesus, but it does not give us a very complete picture of Thomas and certainly does not, by itself, leave an accurate summary of his character. How would you like for your character to be summarized by one statement you have made in the past of which you are not proud of today? That is how Thomas has become known as “doubting Thomas”.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke mention him in a group with the other apostles, but John also records four interesting statements he made. All these, taken together, will give us a more complete summary of Thomas, the man, disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ.

Willing to Die With Jesus

It was just a month or two before the crucifixion. The opposition to Jesus from among the Pharisees and leaders had grown increasingly bitter and intense. In fact, Jesus had recently been in Jerusalem, but had left because of efforts to kill Him, and He was not yet quite through with His work.

But then, back in Bethany, a small town very close to Jerusalem, Lazarus became sick. He was the brother of Mary and Martha and the three were friends and disciples of Jesus.

Jesus delayed returning to the Jerusalem area until Lazarus died, because it was His plan not to just heal Lazarus, but to raise him up from the dead. But, the apostles are somewhat against it, because returning to the Jerusalem area was extremely dangerous. “Then after this He said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again. The disciples said to Him, 'Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?'" (John 11:7,8).

Jesus' answer is intriguing and arresting, though somewhat cryptic. It shows the proper respect for God's will and fulfilling His purpose in our lives. Jesus said, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." (John 11:9,10).

Jesus' point is that doing God's work is like “walking in the day” and that is how we do not stumble. If we loiter in the night, not fulfilling God's purpose because of fear or neglect, then the light of God is not in us.
Thomas' response, upon seeing Jesus' determination to go back to Judea, speaks highly of his courage and devotion to Jesus. He said to the other apostles, "Let us also go, so that we may die with Him." (John 11:16).

“How Do We Know The Way?”
Now we come to the final night before the death of Jesus. All the gospels tell us of the institution of the Lord's Supper, but John goes into rather complete detail on other things Jesus did and discussed on that evening.
Jesus, knowing what was about to come, sought to comfort the disciples. They are still confused about what is taking place, and this would last until after the resurrection.

Jesus assured the apostles that He was “going away” in order to “prepare a place” so they, and all disciples, could be with Him “in My Father's house” forever (John 14:1-3). Then, He said, “And you know the way where I am going." (John 14:4).

Still not sure of the intent of Jesus' message. Thomas asked, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" (John 14:5). Thomas, like the others, seem to still be thinking of a place here of this realm. Where is “In My Father's house”? He is not sure exactly where Jesus is planning on going to prepare this place.
Jesus meant it all quite literally. He is talking about the spiritual realm; heaven; into the presence of God, so He answers, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. “ (John 14:6). There ought to be no question among those who profess faith in Christ-Jesus is the only way to come to the Father! There are no other ways. He said so!

I Doubt It
Jesus had died the Friday before. He had risen the following Sunday morning before dawn, and it was in the evening of the same day that He appeared to His apostles, confirming the factuality of the rumors. He was alive! But Thomas was not with the apostles at that time.

Sometime later, perhaps later the same evening or sometime the following week, Thomas heard the excited reports of his fellow apostles about Jesus' resurrection and visit. “So the other disciples were saying to him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.'"

First, let it be noted that every apostle had been a “doubter” until they first saw Jesus alive again following His crucifixion, not just Thomas (Mark 16:11). The others just saw Him first. This is not to condone Thomas' doubt, but to acknowledge that all of them should have been waiting expectantly for the resurrection, but none of them really were!

“My Lord and My God”
It is a week later when Jesus visits again and Thomas is present. “Then He said to Thomas, 'Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.' Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!'" (John 20:27,28).

None of the apostles were easy believers in the resurrection. But, the fact is that Jesus had always meant for them to be “eyewitnesses” to His resurrection. He did not send them out with a gospel they had heard, but with the gospel they had lived and witnessed. Thomas would spend the rest of his life testifying of what he had seen. He would confirm Jesus' identity as “My Lord and my God!” On the following Pentecost, Thomas would take his stand with the other apostles, having received the promise of the Holy Spirit, and proclaim for the first time the good news of the accomplishment of human redemption by Jesus (Acts 2:4; 14; 38; 42-43). But ten days before that, he will watch the Lord ascend back to the Father. Thomas, where is Jesus going? “He's going to prepare a place for us-you know the way.” How do we know the way? “He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father but by Him.”
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    From The Bradley Banner 9/7/2008
    Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
    1505 E. Broadway
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