- 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
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?'"
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."
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
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.”