One of the Disciples of Jesus by name, Thomas has been branded the “doubting Thomas,” by all and sundry just because he refused to believe the report of the resurrection of Jesus until he had to see Jesus face to face.
For a long time in my life, just like many other Christians, that was the only thing I knew about this disciple Thomas: he was a doubter, so I learnt. But I have now found out that he was more than a doubter.
Unfortunately, Thomas has become “a victim of bad press” over the years. Hence, people always talk about his (understandable) failure to believe the Resurrection story without a physical proof more than they talk about any other thing about him.
But if you check the Bible, you can find some interesting things about this disciple that is worth rehashing to substantiate my claim that history has not been fair to the Thomas.
Let me refresh your memories with the following:
3 unheralded qualities of Thomas The Disciple:
1. Thomas was humble but inquisitive
I believe Thomas was a positively inquisitive person. We can see it the ways he asked Jesus pertinent questions. And he did it with humility.
One of the greatest declarations Jesus ever made in His lifetime on Earth was: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.John 14:6.
This statement alone sets Christianity light years apart from the so-called other religions of the world. Imagine the audacity of Jesus in declaring categorically, “I am the Way to God, none other except me.”
Jesus either meant every word in that statement or He was an imposter. But you can be sure that Jesus is the One He said He is: the Only Way to God!
Do you know that it was Thomas that asked the all-important question that gave rise to that mind-blowing revelation by Jesus? Thomas’ humility was on display when he asked that question in order to learn.
At a critical point in time, Jesus had announced to His disciples that He was going away from them, speaking indirectly of His impending death, expected Resurrection and subsequent ascension to Heaven. But that puzzling speech from the lips of Jesus proved too hard for the bewildered disciples to fully comprehend. Yet they kept their ominous peace without asking further questions.
Jesus apparently had assumed that His disciples knew where He was going to when He told them He would be going away from them. But it was Thomas who bailed them out by humbly saying to Jesus, “Master, we don’t even know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.John 14:5-6.
If Thomas had not asked that question, Jesus might not have had the awesome opportunity to declare that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life: the ONLY way to God.
Thomas Vs Nicodemus, with Jesus
Compare the exchange between Jesus and Thomas with the ever popular Nicodemus’s encounter with Jesus in the night. This notable religious leader too is often criticised in some circles for going to see Jesus secretly.
But that singular visit provided the Lord Jesus Christ with the most auspicious opportunity to introduce the concept and meaning of being born again to Nicodemus and by extension to all of us. Perhaps we might not have had it explained that way if not for Nicodemus’s secret visit to Jesus.
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…John 3:1-7
Just like in Nicodemus’s case, the interaction of Thomas with Jesus proved most advantageous. For one, Thomas did not pretend that he knew what Jesus meant by keeping mute like the other Disciples. He was humble and inquisitive enough at the same time to ask the right questions and thankfully, he got the right answers from Jesus.
2. Thomas was a man of courage and loyalty
No one will doubt the loyalty of a disciple who is willing to die with or for his master. That was the case of Thomas and Jesus.
Did Thomas ever express any willingness to die with Jesus? The answer is definitely, ‘Yes.’
Jesus once had a near-death experience while in Judea. The people there wanted to kill Him but He managed to escape from them.
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.John 8:59
However, Jesus later received a special message from Mary and Martha that their brother, a friend of Jesus’, was terribly ill unto death (John 11:1-3). So Jesus began to make plans to visit them again in Bethany.
But all His disciples except Thomas, were like, “Master, you dare not go back again to Judea because you almost lost your life the last time you went there.”
Our man Thomas, unlike the other Disciples, did not protest the decision of Jesus to go back to Bethany despite the assumed danger ahead. He showed uncommon courage by not only encouraging Jesus to go back there, he also showed a great deal of loyalty to Jesus by offering to go with Him or even to die with Him, persuading the rest disciples to do the same.
Jesus eventually went to Bethany. There He performed one of the greatest miracles ever: bringing Lazarus to back to life.
3. Thomas was outspoken and influential
Thomas was not a man to die in silence. He was one that spoke his mind whenever he had to.
- When the other Disciples did not say anything when Jesus thought that they should know where He was going, it was Thomas who spoke up and informed Jesus that they did not know the way, neither did they know where Jesus was heading to at the time.
- When the other Disciples protested to Jesus going back to Judea due to the threat to his life, it was the same Thomas who insisted that they should all go with Jesus despite the perceived death threat.
- When the other Disciples informed Thomas that Jesus had risen and appeared to them, Thomas was still able to stand his ground, maintaining a very independent opinion that until he saw Jesus with his own eyes and felt His pieced body with His own hands, he would not believe.
From these examples, one can safely surmise that Thomas had the ears of the other disciples: they listened whenever he talked. In other words, Thomas had a good level of influence over the rest of the disciples.
Beyond the popular belief that Thomas is a doubter, let’s also begin to see that:
- He was a humble person, admitting it whenever he didn’t know or understand what Jesus said;
- He was bold enough to ask imperative questions that provoked revelations from Jesus;
- He was a fearless and loyal disciple of Christ who was willing to risk his life with Jesus;
- He was very outspoken and more influential than he ever got credit for.
From the foregoing, it is easy to see that Thomas was more than a doubter. He was a humble but an inquisitive disciple of Jesus. He was a man of courage and loyalty. And he was outspoken as well influential.
What do you think?
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