I heard you are going to have a few visits during Lent of the original followers of Jesus. Thanks for inviting me. I believe I have been unfairly dubbed “Doubting Thomas” for the time I just could not believe Jesus had risen from the dead, but there is a whole lot more about me and my experience of following Jesus. Let me share with you the rest of the story.
I was one of the original 12 male disciples. We were trained by Jesus to make and grow disciples.
As Jesus’ ministry became more successful, he was angering the religious officials in Jerusalem. They had religion all figured out to a set of rules, rules that only they could keep. Jesus emphasized God’s grace, especially for sinners. His kingdom was threatening their power.
It became clear if he went to Jerusalem his opposition would attempt to kill him.
But the day came when he had to go. Lazarus in the suburb of Bethany had died, and Jesus decided he was going to go there and raise him from the dead.
I looked at the other 11 and said, “Let’s go that we might die with Lazarus.” So, we accompanied him, and saw the wonder of wonders, he rose Lazarus from the dead.
His miracle settled it for the religious leaders in Jerusalem. They got together and plotted how they would be able to bring him down.
Jesus didn’t stay at Mary and Martha’s house. He headed to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, a solemn remembrance of God freeing our people from the slavery of Egypt.
The pilgrims made it a religious procession as Jesus entered the town on a donkey. He then went back to Mary and Martha’s home. On Thursday we went into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. During the meal Judas left. After the meal everyone knew something big was about to happen. Later we could see that Jesus was preparing us for his death, resurrection and the arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
We knew Jesus was getting to the climax of what he was telling us when he said, “Don’t be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I wouldn’t tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together. You know the way to where I am going.”
That’s when I broke in. “Lord, we don’t even where you are going! How can we know the way?”
Jesus responded, “I am the way, the truth and the life! Without me, no one can come to the Father. But from now on, you know him and you have seen him.”
That was when I knew he was going to die and go to heaven and return to take us there with him one day. I also realized no question was dumb in Jesus’ eyes. Ask him and he will help you understand.
From that moment things became a blur. He was in the Garden praying for God’s help to face the moment. He was arrested. We scattered. He was crucified, dead, and buried.
I heard the disciples were hiding in the Upper Room so on Sunday evening I went to see them. They had incredible news. Jesus had risen from the dead! He came to visit and give them hope.
I’m sorry. Jesus died. Jesus was buried. The dead will be raised on the last day, not three days later. I told them unless I can place my fingers in the holes in his wrists and put my hand in the spear wound on his side I will not believe.
Even with all my doubts I stayed with the group. Wonder of wonders happened! Jesus returned the next Sunday and invited me to put my finger and my hand in his wound in his side. I fell to my knees and cried; “My Lord, and My God!”
Jesus then said; “Thomas you believe because you have seen. How blessed are those who will not see but believe.”
At that moment I realized Jesus does not give up on you because you have doubts. Instead he will come to you and help you believe. On the other hand, how blessed are those who had not seen but believe.
Resurrected Jesus spent 40 more days with us preparing us to form his church with the goal of making and growing disciples for the Kingdom of God.
He left us to return to his Father. We gathered in an “Upper Room” and experienced the arrival of the Holy Spirit and 3,000 people were baptized and the Church was born.
Later, we decided this good news needed to be shared with the entire world. Peter eventually went to Rome. Philip baptized an Ethiopian Eunuch on the road across the Sinai Peninsula. I went to India. There I not only shared the good news, I established several churches in Western India. Enemies of the Gospel assassinated me, and my remains were sent to Rome.
Yes, at my death, Jesus came to me to take me home.
During my life I had the joy of being called by him as a disciple. He gave me to courage to go with him even as he was facing his death. He answered my questions when I did not understand. And he even came to me face to face when I could not believe he rose from the dead. And then his Spirit sent me to India to make and grow disciples.
Jesus has called you at this time and in this place. Allow him to give you courage as you are called to live the gospel of justice, healing, and reconciliation. Don’t be afraid to ask your questions, and honestly share your doubts. He will forgive you, show the way, and you will experience life more abundantly than ever before.
And now the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.