If church history was a schoolyard, Thomas would be the kid in the corner getting the stuffing kicked out of him every day at recess. We have mocked him, derided him, and strung his failings up on the timeline of ancient history for all to see. We even gave him a nickname- “Doubting Thomas”.
Are we a bunch of self-righteous bullies or what?
Yes, Thomas doubted. But… as I have been spent time with him (Over in the corner when no one was looking, of course. I don’t want to get the stuffing kicked out of me too.) I have begun to see that he is a bit more complicated than I thought. Consider the following…
- When all of the disciples were trying to talk Jesus out of heading back toward Jerusalem due to valid fears that he would be killed, Thomas was courageous and loyal. “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16)
- He was a pragmatic guy. It was the way God made him. That doesn’t mean he didn’t love Jesus. “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5)
- He was no lightweight in the faith. Jesus had many disciples, but chose 12 as the cream of the crop. He empowered them for service. (Matthew 10:1-4)
- We each grieve differently. Thomas was devastated by Christ’s death and dealt with it in a manner consistent with his personality. The others gathered together, but he needed solitude. In the words of Westcott- “His reply to the disciples’ news, reveal how he has dwelt on the terrible details of the crucifixion. For him, the wounds still gape. “He must be able to reconcile that reality of death with life before he can believe.” J.F. Westcott, The Gospel of John
- Once he saw Jesus, he no longer needed fulfillment of the test he proposed. Instead, he recognized Christ with a deeper faith and understanding than his brothers. Thomas proclaimed Jesus’ Divine identity first.
“My Lord, and my God!” (John 20:28)
So, I have decided Thomas has been beaten up enough. I, for one, will stop kicking him while he’s down, stop calling him names. As a matter of fact, I think I will risk sitting with him in the corner for awhile. I have a feeling he can teach me a few things.
What do you think? Is it time to cut Thomas some slack?