Thomas, the Twin

“Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples,
‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him'” (John 11:16).

Jesus Christ called Thomas to follow Him. Because of misunderstanding of him he has been stereotyped with a title second only to Judas Iscariot with negative connotations. He is inappropriately known as Doubting Thomas. A closer look will reveal Him to be Devoted Thomas.

His name appears in many translations as Thomas Didymus. The name Didymus is Greek for Twin. In Didymus can be heard the English word Ditto, meaning the same. It isn’t known who his twin was, whether male or female.

Thomas was a pragmatist. He wanted empirical evidence. He was a show me type person. All of his comments recorded in Scripture occurred in the last week of Christ’s life. His questions were not so much born of doubt as to give occasion for insight. Questioning isn’t bad. Doubting is. He was legitimately inquisitive.

Some persons harbor their tired old doubts and pose them as questions anywhere they are reasonably sure they can’t get an answer. They hope by their seemingly unanswerable questions to appear intellectual. Revealed ignorance is a poor way to try to appear to be smart. Thomas asked his questions where he could get answers. The answers were met with his response of devotion.

In His threefold admonition Christ said, “Ask and it shall be revealed to you.” Thomas’ questions got wonderful answers.

Jesus was encamped along the Jordan when news reached Him that His dear friend Lazarus had died. In an act of seemingly indifference Jesus waited two days before responding to the news. In that delay was wisdom. There was a misconception regarding death in that era. It was believed that the spirit stayed in the body for three days after death before departing. Jesus knowing what He was going to do regarding the death of Lazarus wanted to wait until this period had passed before bringing Lazarus back to life so this old superstition could not be credited.

Bethany, Lazarus’ home town, was only about two miles from Jerusalem. The apostles knew what the mood of the religious leaders of Jerusalem was regarding Christ. They knew His life would be in jeopardy if He went to Jerusalem. Not knowing His reason for delaying going they doubtless were relieved by the fact of His delay.

When Jesus said, “Let us go to Judea again,” the disciples responded: “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” (John 11:8).

Jesus knew His hour had come. His death was immanent. The apostles knew this open act of defiance would incur the wrath of the ruling religious Jews. Nevertheless, Thomas responded: “Let us go that we may die with Him” (John 11: 16).

That was a statement revealing great devotion. There was no wavering or equivocation in that self-sacrificing statement. Unfortunately most readers over look it and remember only a later misunderstood statement by Thomas.

Thomas fought with his fears and by faith won.

He had been there earlier in a teaching session and heard Christ say: “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

Years lapsed and in recent times missionary Jim Elliot who was martyred by Auqua Indians in South America made a comparable statement: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Thomas was willing to give all and gain all.

Are we willing to pay the price for following Christ?

On the eve preceding His execution Jesus gathered in an upper room with His apostles and taught them: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?'” (John 14: 1 – 5).

Thomas wanted to know “where” and “how.” Jesus answered He was the “way.”

A missionary in Africa contracted with a native guide to lead him to a certain remote village. Armed only with his machete the guide lead the way. They traveled through tall brush and thick jungle. During one of their rest stops the missionary commented, “There is not path. How do you know the way?” The native answered, “I am the way. I know where to go. Follow me.”

Jesus is personally the way. If we follow Him we get where we should be.

After Christ’s resurrection the apostles were gathered in an upper room. For whatever reason Thomas wasn’t there. Let’s let John relate what happened.

“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed'” (John 20: 24 – 29).

Thomas had such faith in Christ he had learned to doubt his doubts. We must do the same.

Thomas was our proxy in questioning in order that we might not have reason to doubt. He questioned the word of his fellow apostles but he did not doubt the Lord Himself.

We need to employ the technique used by Thomas to deal with doubts. He went where there were people of faith; where the unseen Lord was likely to make Himself known. We need to seek such environments also.

In response to Christ’s invitation to touch His wounds Thomas responds: “My Lord, and my God!” The sullen skeptic glows with shining faith. There is no indication he touched the wounds of Christ, but his faith embraced the truth shown.

Jesus then included us in His response. “Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed'” (John 20:29).

We are challenged to walk by faith not by sight.

Everything we say we know and believe, everything, we first accepted by faith. 2 X 2 = 4. We believe by faith. We accepted that long before we could prove it. It is a faith principle. We live by faith. It is just a matter of what the object of that faith is. Let it be Jesus. We not only receive Him by faith but those who reject Him reject Him by faith.

Immediately after His resurrection Jesus gave instruction to the witnessing women to tell the apostles He was going to Galilee. Immediately they went to Galilee. They wanted to be where He was. This was in effect reporting for duty. This warm interchange was a prelude to the last encounter the apostles would have with the resurrected Christ.

On the Mount of Olives as Christ was departing He commissioned His church: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 19 – 20).

Thomas took Him at His word. Secular records reveal Thomas went east establishing the Assyrian Church, the Nestorian Church and others. He is considered the founder of the Church in India. There still exists the church known as “The Christians of St. Thomas,” said to have been established by him in 49 AD.

He is said to have suffered much persecution and eventual martyrdom in India. While praying soldiers of King Mizdi allegedly thrust a lance through him.

In giving his all he gained everything.