This week we continue the season of Easter by reflecting on one of the resurrection appearances of Jesus. This is the story of poor Thomas, nicknamed “Doubting Thomas” by generations of Christians. However, I like Thomas and think he gets a bad rap. What do you think?
In John’s account of Easter morning, Mary runs into Jesus in the garden who then goes and shares the experience with the disciples. Apparently, they don’t believe her because Jesus finds ten of the disciples locked up in an Upper Room.
19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. John 20:19-31
•Why do you suppose Thomas wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus first appeared?
•The ten didn’t believe Mary and only believed when Jesus showed the disciples his hands and his side.
o Why do you suppose that Thomas is called the doubter when he only asked for the same evidence the other disciples had received?
•Jesus’ words to Thomas, “Do not doubt but believe” could be better translated, “Don't be unbelieving. Believe." (The Message)
o Is it wrong to have doubts or to ask questions about the faith?
o Is there a difference between doubting and not believing?
•Jesus doesn’t admonish Thomas for asking to see and to touch. Given the tense of the verbs in his words to Thomas, he appears to be more concerned with what Thomas does about believing in the future than he is with the past. What does the life of a believing disciple of Jesus look like? How would it be different from the lives of other people who don’t believe?
•What do you think Jesus wanted the disciples to learn from his appearance on that
first Easter Sunday?
•What do you think Jesus wanted Thomas and the disciples to learn from his second appearance a week later?