Ol’ Tom

Of all the people mentioned in the Bible I may be most like Thomas. This is not the worst thing, nor is it the best. I would prefer to be a John, a David or… a Stephen. But being a Thomas beats being a Judas Iscariot (traitor) or an Ananias (liar).

Doubting-ThomasThomas is a man of many nicknames. We often refer to him as “Doubting Thomas.” His fellow disciples called him “Didymus,” which means “the twin.” For that reason some scholars believe he indeed had a twin brother or sister. John MacArthur in his book Twelve Ordinary Men referred to him as “Thomas The Pessimist,” which may be the best description of this enigmatic disciple.

Not a lot is known about Thomas. The Gospel of John provides most of the information. Thomas, or Ol’ Tom as I like to call him, is quoted three times in this book. First when Jesus informs the group that Lazarus is dead and that they must go to the town of Bethany, which is near Jerusalem. The Pharisees had recently threatened Jesus and the disciples were concerned that if they returned there  would be serious trouble. When informed they would be going back to the Jerusalem suburbs, Thomas stated, “let’s all go so that we can die with Jesus.”

Courageous maybe, loyal for sure, but certainly pessimistic. Tom, who had seen Jesus calm storms, feed thousands with a sack lunch and instantly heal the deaf, lame and blind, didn’t consider the possibility that Jesus might do something amazing. Jesus would eventually die in Jerusalem but it was on his schedule, not the Pharisees.

Later, during the Last Supper meeting of the disciples, Jesus told them, “I go to prepare a place for you. And you know the way to where I’m going.” Tom, eager to follow but perhaps slow on the uptake, says something like, “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going; how can we follow you?” This was the perfect set up for Jesus to deliver one of the most powerful statements in all of Scripture; “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Thomas, the Set-Up Man.

Ol’ Tom became Doubting Thomas after the resurrection when he famously said, “Unless I stick my fingers in his hand wounds and my hand in his side, I will never believe.” His skepticism was understandable; he had seen the brutality of the crucifixion. To paraphrase the Munchkin coroner in Oz, Jesus was not just merely dead, he was really most sincerely dead. But not for long! Thomas, upon seeing the resurrected Jesus, would make the profound statement, “My Lord and My God!” Nuf said.

I am a lot like Ol’ Tom. I’ve seen God do some incredible things, miracles really. Yet I become skeptical whenever I face a problem. Sure, I’m loyal and I want to follow Jesus, but I have to be taught over and over to trust the Lord. God does His work on His own timetable. My job is to believe and be patient. God will always fulfill His promises; don’t doubt it!