I woke up Easter morning, the miracle of Jesus’s resurrection on my mind, and accompanying those thoughts–Thomas. Doubting Thomas.
How would I have felt in Thomas’ shoes? Over a week after the resurrection, Thomas still doubted–rejected even–the idea that Jesus was alive.
The draw to the keyboard was strong, as I dove into the days after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, and what Thomas may have felt as he heard reports he couldn’t rationalize. Most of what I write comes from the empathy inside me seeking to step into his shoes. Some of it is straight from God’s Word in the Gospels.
I felt the accessibility of Thomas in particular, because I believe many of us find ourselves in places of unbelief.
Even after we faithfully follow Jesus.
We think we know the best way, and fight tooth and nail when control is stripped away. It was in this awareness about the human condition, God introduced me to Thomas by showing me a piece of my own self.
Jesus’s disciple and doubter: a narrative from the perspective of Thomas
It was over.
So many emotions rushed through me in waves of deep grief.
Loss. Who was I anymore?
Questions haunted me. What was the point? Will I be killed like that too? What do I do now?
A glimmer of hope summons me, yet all rational and reasoning slammed it shut as soon as it called for consideration. Hope did not make sense right now. There was no hope.
He. is. dead.
The man we thought was God Himself, is dead.
What was the point?
I dedicated my life to following this man. He called me to leave my career, and my old life behind. And I did! I followed him, listened to him, practiced what he taught me. I knew in my heart; this man would lead me into victory. He was the Messiah!
But instead I watched him be led to slaughter. There was no fight in him. He allowed it to happen. The miraculous power I watched him display–where was it? Why didn’t he care about us enough to fight? What kind of love display was this? There was no victory here.
He abandoned us! We needed him! How could he just give up?
I go between fits of anger at the government and the people for such disgraceful acts of violence, and at Jesus for walking right into it. At Judas, because he started it all! If he hadn’t given in to selfishness, thinking he knew best, we wouldn’t be in this place at all. At least not until the next “judas” would come along.
Could it have ever been me? Could I be Judas?
My heart aches. It pulses with sorrow. I see no future. The rest of my days feel as though I’ll be a wanderer through the desert like my ancestors.
But then, an aberration in my grief-stricken soul pulls at me, wanting to be made known. This peculiar dissonance says there is no way this man could be dead. Yet I saw with my own eyes, the breath go out of him. The final release of his spirit. A resurrection was impossible, right?
What was the point?
A testimony that Jesus is alive, the resurrection real!
The door banged open, the sight of a flushed, bright-eyed Mary Magdalene entered. Had she lost her mind? Had she no respect? Is she suddenly done grieving? What could cause her to behave in such a wild way?
“HE’s ALIVE! Rabboni! I saw Him with my own eyes! He met me there by the tomb! At first I thought he was the gardner, but then he spoke my name, the way he does. And I knew! It is him! He is not dead! He is Alive!” (John 20:11-18 and Mark 16: 9-11)
She didn’t recognize him right away? Skepticism filled me. How would Mary Magdalene not recognize Jesus? She has lost her mind. I discounted her story, waved her away. We know what our Teacher looks like. Grief is playing a cruel trick on her. A resurrection? Ridiculous. Impossible.
A few days later, again, more of my friends held the same crazy claim! They had seen him! The resurrection Mary had claimed was true, they said! Again, ridiculous! Why am I the only sane person among us? I dismissed them. Part of me felt abandoned. If he was alive, why has he not shown himself to me? (John 20:19-25)
Jesus appears to Thomas
8 days later we were gathering in a locked home. Conspiracy theories were rampant and we received threats, daily. Jesus wasn’t here to lead us, so we needed to meet–come up with a plan.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, appearing right next to me–Jesus! My teacher! At least my mind thought I was seeing him. Surely all the stories I’d heard have weaved together this vision in front of me. My mind wanted to create this experience so I didn’t feel like I was missing out. Lord knows I WANT him to be alive. I WANT to see him. Perhaps this is his ghost, I see?
What he did next broke me. 8 days before, I had declared out loud to the other disciples who were determined they had seen the Lord, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” It occurred to me in this moment, Could he have heard me? Did he witness my doubting? Shame crept in.
“Peace be with you.” He said. Jesus looked into my eyes–into my soul, really. He moved toward me. “Thomas, put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
His power flowed through me, and I fell to my knees. All the grief I had held in over the past days followed out in guttural cries. “My Lord and My God!” I exclaimed through tears. How could I ever have doubted him? (John 20:26-29)
Seeing anew through the lens of resurrection
And it hit me. I do this often, where I think I know. I know the best way forward, the most effective plan. Practicality, rational, and proof in research drive my choices and belief system. I think my way through solutions. Proof guides me.
That day Jesus was crucified, there was death. Death is death. There has never been another way around it, that is-until Jesus. He raised Lazarus from the dead. But then again, he had to be alive to bring Lazarus back to life. What was I to expect when he himself died?
“You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20: 29) My Teacher looked on me with kindness, and in that, rekindled a renewing in my soul. He reminded me-there is more at work here than I know. How blind I was to not see it. I watched his power displayed through the work of miracles, I felt his deep love, only ever seeking to glorify the Father. Never himself.
I witnessed time and again things that didn’t make sense. He challenged my inability to let go of control, to step out in faith. Have I learned nothing?
My limited perspective forgot there could be more to this story.
There was a battlefield I had been utterly unaware of, and unable to fight on my own. A battlefield my Lord has conquered. As I sat obsessively fixed on the problems in front of me, Jesus held the grand story line in His hands.
My mind raced. Why did I demote him to human power, once again? As soon as he crossed a line I knew I could never cross and survive, I lowered his worth, his power to mine. Yet, He has carved out the way for us in places we won’t see until we leave this earthly life.
But, we do get to experience those things, almost as candles in the darkness now, leading the way for us to live in his power, love, hope and victory here.
Transformed by this resurrection gift
Nothing could limit the measure of my Lord. He defies a locked door to appear before me, granting me such undeserved peace. Peace! Peace he gifts my troubled and tormented soul. I breathe it in deeply. There is something about this peace.
Oh today and forever, may I shout, “HE LIVES! He Lives.”
Thanks for listening,