When Thomas Spoke Up For Jesus
by Jonathan S Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Denomination: Southern Baptist
Text: John 11:1-16
When Thomas Spoke Up for Jesus
When we think of the men Jesus called to be His disciples, we can forget, sometimes, that they were human beings just like us. Each one of them had the incredible opportunity to follow Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on His mission while He walked this earth.
One of these men was Thomas, who gets kind of a bad rap for his doubts. I mean, to this day and for probably many days in the future, we’ll hear of people called a “doubting Thomas” simply because people like them are pegged as wanting to see proof before they make a decision. It is true Thomas had his doubts—but so did all the other disciples, too! And one thing that he said, that I haven’t found very often in Scripture, was Thomas’ declaration when he saw the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Thomas saw and then exclaimed, “My Lord and my God”. No doubts there!
Thomas isn’t mentioned often in Scripture, but there are examples for each one of us in each instance. Let’s take a look at one of these episodes and we’ll finish this series by looking at the time when Thomas saw Jesus, after the resurrection.
Thomas: devoted to Jesus
The first time Thomas is mentioned, aside from the lists of the apostles, is in John’s gospel, and chapter 11. In the context, we remember that Lazarus was sick, and eventually died, but Jesus made a deliberate choice to return to Judea, where Lazarus, Mary, and Martha—some of the closest friends, possibly, Jesus had on this earth. As the gospels record, just about every time Jesus went to Judea in general, or Jerusalem in particular, trouble arose. At least once, people actually took up stones, so that they could stone Jesus to death!
So we can imagine the shock and awe of the disciples when Jesus said, “we’re going back to Judea”, and the disciples replied, “uh, Lord, uh, the Jews wanted to stone You to death, and it wasn’t that long ago (remember???)” This wasn’t the first time, by the way, when the disciples were not sure what to do, what direction to follow, and so forth. A year or two before, in John chapter 6, Jesus had seen the crowds dwindle away to the point where He asked them, “Will you also go away (John 6:67, paraphrased)?”
The first words of Thomas in Scripture
But in this case, something happened in the heart of Thomas. Remember that these are the first words of Thomas recorded in Scripture: “Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him (John 11:16).” I’ve wondered, for a long time, why he said this. Although Scripture doesn’t record what Thomas thought, we could make a few observations:
First, Thomas was one of the, perhaps, quiet people who didn’t say much, except when he had something to say. We have, and need, folks like him even in these days; those who aren’t in the spotlight—did they ever desire that?—and simply want to follow the Lord. Thomas didn’t remain silent, nor did he cause a big show to break out. He just spoke one sentence, “Let’s go, so that we may die with Him”. While the others were doing whatever they were doing, or not, Thomas declared his devotion. Someone once remarked that Thomas already knew that a life without Jesus wasn’t much of a life at all.
Second, Thomas showed some spunk. Dr. John MacArthur mentioned, in a radio broadcast some years ago, that Thomas was showing some leadership. The other disciples were, perhaps, ready to leave Jesus—remember, they had been tempted to do that at least once before—and nobody stepped up to remind them of what they already knew! Thomas, as mentioned, never said much, at least as recorded in Scripture, but he spoke up here.
Third, and it’s a sad point to bring up, is that Thomas was still, perhaps, pessimistic. He had already stated that he knew death was waiting for Jesus, and instead of praying for strength, or deliverance, or any number of things (did he think to speak directly to Jesus?), he gave a resigned, “well, he’s going to die, so we might as well go with him”. In all fairness, we need to remember that this event took place at some time before the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit permanently came to indwell each believer. The encouragement Thomas and the others needed was available, but they didn’t seem to ask for it.
So, devoted and perhaps depressed, Thomas and the others followed the Lord Jesus Christ to Bethany, seeing the resurrection of Lazarus, and the power Jesus had—even to raising the dead. I’m sure this helped shape Thomas’ way of looking at the words of Jesus when we see the second episode in the life of Thomas.
You and I are a lot like Thomas, in that we’ve had our times of doubt, and our times of devotion to the Lord. One of the first temptations or trials the Devil tried on Jesus was to make Him doubt whether or not the Father would take care of Him. After all, Jesus had fasted or gone without food for 40 days (over a month!) and was hungry, as both Matthew and Luke mention. Jesus never gave in to the Devil, and we don’t have to, either.
Another thing is that Jesus never condemned Thomas, even in this very difficult time in their lives. Doubt had battered the disciples, Thomas had responded with devotion, even though he is depressed about the possibility of losing his life.
The lesson we could truly receive from this is simply, Never Give Up. Jesus is still in control and if we serve Him, He will bless us for all that we’ve done for Him. God bless you all!