In the 1970s, a former ski jumper was featured on ABC's Wide World of Sports. The caption heard was the "Agony of Defeat." His name was Vinko Bogataj. What a way to be remembered?
Often, people remember the Apostle Thomas as "Doubting Thomas." I guess that it is better than being called "the traitor."
In John 20, Jesus had been resurrected from the dead and made an appearance to his disciples. Thomas was not present. When the disciples shared with Thomas that they saw Jesus, Thomas stated, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." About a week later, Thomas got his wish. Jesus appeared and said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Yet, in John 11:16, "Thomas, said to his fellow disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with Him.'" That statement took a lot of courage to make. Thomas was willing to give up his life if need be to be with Jesus and encouraged the others to do the same.
In John 14, when Jesus talked about going to prepare a place for his disciples, Thomas is the one who had enough courage and desire to ask, "How can we know the way?" Jesus said, "Thomas, I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me!"
Jesus never once condemned Thomas for what he said or what he did. His statement to Thomas in the upper room when he saw Jesus gave him an opportunity that most people will never have.
I believe Thomas had a deeper desire to learn about what Jesus was saying than the other disciples or than we do. He asked questions for clarification that the other disciples were either too embarrassed to ask, or ones where they did not want to look stupid.
Did you ever sit in a classroom when a teacher said something and then asked if there were any questions, and you were too afraid to raise your hand? So you went home not knowing the answer. Thomas asked the questions.
Let's face it. If we were not in the upper room, and the other disciples said to us that they saw the Lord after he had been killed, what would we say? He may have said, "Hey, guys I want to believe that Jesus is alive as well, but you know some times our minds play games on us. Go out on a hot day and look ahead on the road; you see water, even if it is not there. We do it because we want it to be there. We know when someone dies, we don't see them walking around again."
Thomas asked questions, but his questions were in an effort to learn the truth and to know as much as he could about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the World.
Perhaps now is the time for you to ask questions, to seek and find, and to ask for the door to be opened unto you. What do you have to lose - but your soul?
Behrens is a member of the pastoral team with the Loyalsock-Wallis Run United Methodist Charge.