My name is Doubting Thomas; it is how generations of people know me: the one who didn’t believe in the Resurrection of my Master. Yet I’d like to put to you a different view. I was the one who wasn’t there: I’d been part of the scene from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, part of the central twelve. I was also one of those who ran away when Jesus was arrested – well, most of us did. We ran away together, and hid safely. It was the house where Peter joined us later, miserable and feeling a failure. The house where those who had seen him die joined us. We knew he was dead. We’d known it from the time of his arrest; but we also had with us those who had watched him die, seen where he was buried. It was the end of all our hopes, yet we clung together, unable to give up and go back to our old lives. What old lives? Many of us had given up everything to follow Jesus.
Yet we had to go out at odd times; we had to get food, and occasionally one of us would go and see what the temperature was in the city – was it safe to leave the house, were we in danger of arrest? I left the house that Sunday, just to get some air, to see what was going on, partly to see if I could make any sense of the rumours Mary Magdalene came back with, maybe find what had happened to Jesus’ body. Most of us didn’t really believe that Mary had seen Jesus – I mean, he was dead! Dead people don’t come back to life – yes, I know that you’re going to say Jesus brought people back to life. I knew that! – but the point was that Jesus did that – Jesus couldn’t bring himself back to life, could he? Could he?? Anyhow, when I got back, I was greeted with “we have seen the Lord!” Well, I knew they hadn’t! He was dead, how could they? My reaction was mainly instinct – why had Jesus come back when I wasn’t there? I felt excluded, left out. It hadn’t ever bothered me that Peter, James and John had been closer to Jesus than the rest of us. That was fine. But I was part of the twelve, I’d been a loyal disciple, and I’d been out searching for the truth of these rumours – I was one of the few brave enough to risk going out! Couldn’t Jesus have waited till I got back before appearing?
But having said what I’d said, I felt stuck with it. To be honest, I could fairly soon tell that the others had had an experience that I hadn’t. They were different. That just made me feel more left out. I didn’t think about leaving them to it. Where would I go? And I guess I was also hoping that Jesus would appear to me, too. That I wouldn’t be perpetually isolated because I hadn’t been there when Jesus turned up.
Which of course he did, but not for another week. Maybe he was giving me a chance to come to rights myself; maybe he had other things to do. I don’t know. All I know is that when Jesus appeared I knew who he was: I could see how stupid and stubborn I’d been to stick to that instinctive answer; to dwell in my own sense of injury; to listen to that little inner voice that said he didn’t love me as much as those others. I fell to my knees and said those words – “My Lord and my God”.
So, yes, maybe (for whatever reason) I had been doubting; maybe (for whatever reason) I had been faithless – I’d certainly lacked faith in the depths of Jesus’ love for me. But I’ll never regret that week. It led me to an even deeper faith, to a more certain knowledge of Jesus, to say nothing of my own frailty. But it also led me to know that Jesus was not only my Master, but my Lord and my God. To know that I was loved and belonged. That week of doubt led me to a deeper place of faith.
Maybe next time you hear me named as Doubting Thomas, you can reflect on my faith as well as my doubt. Thereafter, I was never scared of my doubt – I knew Jesus had enough faith in me to keep hold of me while I worked my way to a deeper place of faith. Remember too – “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”. Blessed are you.