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Bible News: We Labelled “Doubting Thomas” Wrongly


We can pick up on one negative thing that a person does and then “label him.”

Did the people in your world do that? “You are awkward!” “You’re as slow as Christmas!” “You’re a dunce!” “You’ll never be pretty.” “You are totally inept!” “Don’t smile-you don’t have pretty teeth.”

We’ve done that to Thomas, the twin, the disciple called Didymus. Thomas was analytical. He was pragmatic. He was cautious. He wanted to know the facts before he became involved because once he made the decision, he would never abandon ship. He was a man of his word. He was committed. He was conscientious and honest almost to a fault. He was a man’s man.

He was a man who had the courage to say, “I don’t completely grasp what you’re saying. Would you go through that explanation again, please.” Not many men can do that-they’re too threatened.

We read in John 11:1-16, this incident: Jesus headed in the direction of Judea and his disciples tried to dissuade Him. “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” He listened, gave an enigmatic answer, then announced His decision: “Let us go to Judea.”

What do you suppose the disciples thought of that? We don’t have to speculate about one of them. Thomas clenched his fists, threw back his shoulders, stuck out his chest, stepped to the front, and passionately declared, “Okay men, it’s settled! If that is His decision and He is going to die, then let’s go with Him and die, too!” We call that courage.

We would say he was a brave man; a loyal friend; someone you would want on your team because he didn’t retreat-even in the face of death.

Another encounter: Jesus said, “When everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am. . . . And you know where I am going and how to get there” (John 14:1-6). Thomas was the only one honest enough to say, “Lord, we do want to go with You, we want to be with you always, but we don’t know the way. Tell us, please.” None of the others standing around had the courage to confess that they didn’t have a clue-just Thomas. Don’t you know they were all relieved to have him there? And then because of the next incident we name Thomas.

It was after the resurrection. Jesus appeared to the disciples-but not all eleven were present. Thomas wasn’t in the clandestine meeting when Jesus came. They were behind closed, locked doors, fearful of the Jews. I wonder where Thomas had gone? He was very brave to leave the safety of his friends and the hiding place. When he came back from his errand, they rushed him and all started talking at once. “Guess who we just saw?” “Jesus was here and you missed him!” “He isn’t dead, Thomas! He’s alive!” “He talked to us, Tom!” “He just appeared through that door over there!” “You just missed him, Thomas! You probably passed Him on the street!”

Thomas had seen Jesus raise the dead. He was no doubt there when Lazarus stumbled out of the tomb with the grave cloths still wrapped around his body (John 11). He was there when the widow of Nain’s son crawled down off the funeral bier and embraced his mother (Luke 7:11-14). Oh, Thomas had seen the miracles, but he wanted to see Jesus with his own eyes.

I would have said the same thing. “I want to see Him, too!” Is that bad? He had invested his life in this Man that he loved. His heart had been broken at the cross, and he was risking death or imprisonment at that very moment by being with this group of “rebellious heretics!” Thomas had declared himself a follower of Jesus and he was not going to deflect. If I had been asked to guess which one of the men would make such a demand, knowing Thomas from the past, I would have said, “Why Thomas would probably be the one to say something like that.”

So we have named him. We call him Doubting Thomas. Why? Because he was “man enough” to say, “I want to see Him for myself. I want to touch His body. I want to look in His eyes once more. I want to fall on my knees and proclaim my love and devotion to Him. I want to see-then I’ll believe” (John 20:24-28).

They still met together and Thomas wasn’t pouting somewhere, angry because he had been absent from the miraculous appearing. He was committed. He had not deserted. He was loyal. He was sitting on the floor with the rest of them that night when Jesus appeared again. Jesus singled Thomas out and said, “You believe because you have seen me, Thomas? Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe.” Do you know who that is? That’s you and me.

We believe-yet we have never put our hand in His side, or touched the scars in His hands. We are blessed. Lord, I want to apologize to Thomas one of these days. I’m so sorry that we have ridiculed him all these years and have named him something less than honorable. He was really quite a man! And I want to be like him-bold, courageous, loyal, honest, a person who committed himself completely. And I can be that way-because of the Person who dwells inside this outer shell. That’s the way He is and I, too, can be a Thomas.

Photo Credit: Photo/cfe.org.au

Written by Anabel Gillham (Lifetime Guarantee Ministries) – 1928-2010

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