I think Thomas, the Apostle, has been given a bad rap. He is known best for his declaration that he would believe that Jesus was alive when he could touch Him for himself.
We quote Jesus, after offering Thomas His hands and side, saying “…blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That’s you and me, obviously.
That makes perfect sense. Jesus is no longer walking the earth in human form. All of us who have come to saving faith have come by, well, faith.
Should Thomas have believed his fellows when they told him Jesus had risen from the dead? Probably. He had been a disciple for a while and should have known whom he could trust. Of course there was that Judas business, but still…
According to the text, it does seem that Jesus reproves him a bit: “Because you have seen, you have believed…”
Let’s go back a few verses in John 21.
I don’t see where any of the disciples believed Mary of Magdala when she told them she had seen the Lord.
Sunday evening the disciples, minus Thomas and Judas, were huddled in fear in a locked room when Jesus stood among them. Mind you, He’d come in without knocking and it doesn’t say He had the key. He showed them His hands and His side, and then the record says, “The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”
Did they believe without seeing? I don’t know. I’m just asking, but they did see. Jesus did show Himself to them.
What else do we know about Thomas?
In John 11 it is recorded that when Jesus announced His intention of going to the Jerusalem area, brushing aside the protests of His disciples that His life was in danger there, Thomas said to the others: “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
He may have been skeptical, but he was commited enough to Jesus that he was willing to die with Him if need be.
Christian tradition holds that Thomas preached the gospel in India and was martyred there, killed by a spear. For that reason, artists often paint him with a spear. Indian Believers commonly call themselves “St. Thomas Christians,” descendants of the Apostle’s converts. Thomas left an indelible imprint on the people of an entire continent.
There’s so much we cannot know about this follower of Jesus, but what seems certain to me is that he loved the Lord and followed Him with his whole heart, eventually laying down his life for the Good News.
Jesus’ words, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” are often used, it seems to me, as an excuse by those who have never had a personal encounter with the living Christ. True visions are extremely rare, and most of us will never have one of those, but we can press in until we actually experience Christ-life at work in us.
“Doubting Thomas” would not settle for only the testimony of others. He insisted on a personal touch from Jesus. I think we would do well to emulate his passion for truth.