I owe my life to Doubting Thomas.
Many historians say, that after being transformed by the life of Jesus, Doubting Thomas traveled to the southern tip of India and spread the word of the Gospel there. It was then that Christianity in India was birthed.
In a land that is over 80% Hindu and 13% Muslim, I come from a lineage of Christians who claim that their spiritual roots can be traced back to these early St. Thomas conversions. Only 2% of the entirety of India is Christian, and I come from that lucky few.
Lucky? Actually, no. Humbled, yes, and brought-down-to-my-knees grateful, that Doubting Thomas didn’t remain a doubter.
This is me speculating, of course, but I don’t think Thomas was always a doubter. I bet the instant Thomas heard Jesus’ message, he knew that this was someone very, very special–someone absolutely worth abandoning his fisherman’s day-job, and someone worth following to the utter ends of the earth.
In many ways, Thomas reminds me of me. It is in my personality and nature for me to believe very easily, fall in love easily, and give you the benefit of the doubt easily. I am not a born skeptic, but rather, one who immediately sees the good in people.
However, it’s not so easy for me to stay that way once the chips fall. When things get shaky, uncertain and scary, that is when my heart fills with doubt. Why did I trust this person? Why did I believe him? Why did I think she knew what she was talking about? Once that doubt hits, I am outta of that situation. I mentally check out of that relationship, friendship or course in life, and I don’t look back.
Thomas could have been like me. The second he heard that Jesus had died, I’m sure he was flooded with thoughts like, “Did I just leave my steady paycheck for a guy that ended up dying at the age of 33?” “Was Jesus a criminal like the Pharisees claim? Maybe he really was here just to stir up trouble.” “What about all the promises that Jesus made? I thought I was going to be part of a “kingdom” where I was going to help “King Jesus” overtake the corrupt leadership of this land, so I could finally be rich, powerful and famous!” With thoughts like these, it would have been so easy for Thomas to say, “Well, I guess Jesus was a good friend while he was here, but dead is dead. The guy’s dead. Gotta move on with my life.”
That would have been my cue to get out of there. And fast. I would have said, “If this guy is alive, he better show his face, and with all the works—the bruises, wounds, holes in the hands, holes in the feet—the whole shebang. In the meantime, I need to make up for all the time I lost in the past three years just hanging around, listening to a lot of nice, but useless stories that I didn’t even understand.”
Maybe Jesus knew this about Thomas and all of the other disciples, and that’s why he reappeared in front of the disciples just one last time right before ascending into heaven. Maybe he knew that Thomas was just vocalizing what everyone else was thinking—“I need to see it with my own eyes, if Jesus is really living, breathing and truly risen from the dead.”
Or, maybe he came back just for Thomas.
Jesus could have easily ascended directly into heaven, leaving Thomas behind in a world of doubt, confusion and eventual disbelief. But, just like the parable of the one lost sheep (Luke 15: 1-7), maybe he came back just for Thomas.
And, do you know why? Because that was in Jesus’ personality and nature—to turn around and reach out, even to just one lost sheep. One little, whiny, dazed and confused, lost sheep. And, why? So that once that sheep’s life was changed, that same sheep would go out and tell all of the remaining sheep, that Jesus was the kind of person who went out of his way, to save the inconsequential life of one lost sheep.
Thomas didn’t stop being a doubter just because he suddenly came to his senses, or became enlightened. Thomas stopped being a doubter because Christ in his risen form, came to Thomas personally and showed Thomas his bruises, wounds, holes in the hands, holes in the feet—the whole shebang.
Was Thomas lucky? No. He was probably humbled, and brought-down-to-his-knees grateful, that Jesus made one final pit-stop so that foolish, silly Doubting Thomas wouldn’t remain a doubter. Humbled, and brought-down-to-his-knees grateful, that Jesus delayed seeing his Father, just to go after one lost sheep like him.
It took seeing the bruises, wounds, holes in the hands, holes in the feet—the whole shebang, for Thomas to believe. Once he believed, his life was transformed and he felt compelled to tell the world about Jesus and to fulfill The Great Commission—even to places like the uttermost parts of the earth…places like India, where it is almost statistically impossible to not be Hindu.
What are you waiting for? Are you waiting to see the bruises, wounds, holes in the hands, holes in the feet—the whole shebang, for you to believe? What will it take for you to follow Jesus’ example, and reach out to that one lost soul?
Don’t stay a Doubting Thomas. If Thomas had remained a doubter, I wouldn’t be writing this to you today.
Am I a follower of Jesus today because I am just lucky?
It’s because Jesus made one final pit-stop for Thomas, which changed Thomas’ life in such a radical, life-transforming way, that Thomas went into the most remote regions of the world to reach out to one of my great-great-great greats.
Jesus made one final pit-stop just for me. Am I lucky? No. Just humbled and brought-down-to-my-knees grateful.