Faithful Words for week of April 26, 2012

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By Dr. Kenneth Faught


 Thomas is a maligned apostle

“And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God” (See John 20:19-29).

Very little is known about the background of the Apostle Thomas.The fact that his name appears midway in the lists of the apostles suggests that he may have been neither the most prominent nor the most obscure. He is called “Didymus” (21:2), meaning “the twin” – but we are not told if his twin was a brother or a sister. Despite the nickname “Doubting Thomas, John’s Gospel reveals a rather positive portrait of this follower of Jesus.
Thomas was a man who exemplified great courage (John 11:7-16).
When Jesus was called to Bethany upon the death of Lazarus, the disciples feared for his safety. It was Thomas who said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” We have the mistaken view that courage is the absence of fear. Courage is actually the will to say and do what we fear to say and do! Thomas had the courage to follow Jesus into the unknown, to do his duty as a disciple regardless of the risks, and to follow Jesus at all costs. Are we courageous in our commitment to Jesus? Would you, like Thomas, risk your life for Jesus? Perhaps the better question is, “Do we have the courage to live for Jesus?”
Are we faithful in service, worship, witness, and stewardship? Before we smugly refer to “Doubting Thomas” we may need to search our own hearts to see if our commitment is deep and genuine and risk-taking.
Thomas was a man who expressed great curiosity (John 14:1-6). When Jesus spoke of going to “prepare a place” for us Thomas did not understand – so he asked questions! His curiosity revealed the heart of a true disciple. The word “disciple” actually means a student, or a learner. He had accepted Jesus’ invitation to learn (Matthew 11:29). He showed humility – a teachable spirit. He hungered to know more and to understand better. We can benefit from Thomas’ curiosity. Because of his question Jesus is revealed as “the way, the truth, and the life.” Do you know the way to God? It is not heredity or morality or good works. We are thankful for Thomas’ question, so that we might have Jesus’ answer.
Thomas was a man who exhibited great caution (John 20).
When the disciples reported that they had seen Jesus he did not believe. Notice his absence from the group (24). Why was he not there? Was he grieving? Or confused? Or preoccupied? The fact is that he “missed church”, and so missed Jesus – missed the first Easter! Jesus had promised that “where two or three are gathered” he would be present. Thomas was off, perhaps moping, by himself. His absence turned him form a courageous convert into a cautious Christian. Maybe he was still prepared to die – but he was not prepared to live. Yet, we he met Christ face-to-face he made a great confession: “My Lord and my God!”
Thomas insisted on the same personal experience that the other disciples had. He would not settle for a second-hand (hearsay) faith.
We should do no less.

Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.