Sometimes I think we forget that Easter is a season. It’s not a one-day event or even the culmination of a week of less than holy outcomes. In the world of faith, the resurrection was a game-changer. It still is.
That’s why I like Thomas so much. Thomas keeps it real. Thomas was that friend of Jesus’ who was around when Jesus was condemned and crucified, but happened to be out when Jesus made his miraculous appearance to the rest who were hiding out after the tomb was discovered to be empty. He says a few things and becomes forever labeled as “the doubter.” You can read all the particulars here.
I don’t think Thomas was a doubter at all. In fact, I think Thomas was quite grounded. And he wasn’t afraid to speak up. Even when Jesus was still alive, Thomas spoke up if he didn’t understand something or couldn’t quite grasp what the heck Jesus was even talking about. Check it out here.
Most of us probably can relate to Thomas. Our rational, intelligent selves wonder how this can be or what does this mean or what do I do now. Where we might be different from Thomas is that we do not speak up.
We don’t ask for the things we need, the things owed us, the things promised to us, the things we can’t or won’t speak up about because we wonder who will listen to us. Or, if they do listen, will they disregard what we’re saying, calling us names or giving us a label instead? We don’t keep it real because we have learned it is unsafe to ask our questions or state an alternative point of view.
Sometimes life gets turned upside down and we feel we’re turned inside out. I have no doubt that Thomas thought his world was turned completely upside down when Jesus died. I have no doubt Thomas felt completely unmoored and wondered what he was to do now. He had all kinds of questions and concerns. Nothing about any of this made sense. Everyone else didn’t seem to be too bothered and, when his anguish surfaced, the silence became awkward and no one would look him in the eye.
That’s when Jesus appeared to Thomas. When Thomas felt most alone and isolated from his friends, Jesus came to him. When Thomas asked the question everyone thought, but no one would ask, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5), Jesus told them that if they knew him, they’d know the way. Thomas never doubted Jesus. He only wanted be reminded, experience again, Jesus’ abiding presence. Like it was before he died.
Thomas knew the way of Jesus was not a roadmap. Thomas knew the way of Jesus wasn’t a claim of beliefs used to exclude or reject others. Thomas didn’t doubt. He knew. He also had the courage to voice his deepest sorrow and greatest fear and ask for what he needed. He needed to be reminded that Jesus, who said he was the way, was still there abiding with him.
Thomas’ story is captured in the bible because it is our story. It is our story when we keep it real. Jesus appears to Thomas because Thomas asked. Jesus was listening to Thomas and Jesus listens to us today. The way of Jesus is before us too. The way of Jesus does not discriminate. The way of Jesus does not disregard. The way of Jesus does not discard. The way of Jesus does not leave out. Sometimes personal tragedy and hardship cloud our vision. The resurrection ushered in a new reality. The resurrected Jesus came to Thomas to remind him of of what he already knew. Jesus would always be with him. No matter what.