Faith: A conversation with the Apostle Thomas
Last updated 4/27/2021 at 6:03pm
Ah, Thomas, I hate to mention this, but you could have saved yourself a great deal of trouble if you’d just hung with the rest of the disciples on that first Easter evening.
You wouldn’t believe the spin lots of folks have put on the fact that you weren’t there that night. Yes, I know one would think that people would give an apostle of Christ the benefit of the doubt, so to speak.
What? Oh, yes, a rather bad choice of words. Sorry.
But you would be the first to admit, I’m sure, that you apostles as a whole didn’t look too shiny for a while there. I mean, Judas ... Well, you know. And Peter pretty much threw in the towel. Three times. Cussing like a sailor. Or maybe a fisherman. Most of the guys scattered like quail. And then you sort of skip church. I know it wasn’t to sleep in, take out the boat or RV, or (fill in the blank with) bounce, pass, putt, throw, toss, hit, volley, kick, lob, or otherwise play with a ball, or even to nurse the dog who looked maybe a bit pale that morning.
You know what I mean when I say the Bible only says that you weren’t there when the risen Lord amazed your apostolic compadres. The madres, the gals, had already tried to tell your friends that they’d seen Jesus, and he was alive again. But the macho guys wouldn’t believe them. “Silly women,” they said, until Jesus appeared in the room with them and scared them silly. Then, “giddy as schoolgirls” themselves, bubbling with joy, they almost bowl you over with the news when you show up.
And again, by the way, where were you?
The folks who call you “doubting Thomas” imply that ... Oh, you didn’t know about that? Sorry, but I’m afraid that’s the title you’ve been stuck with. Those folks seem to take it for granted that you were off doing something you shouldn’t have been doing just then. Sitting on a bar stool or playing golf or something, I guess. And your reaction when your drunk-with-joy companions assail you with the almost-too-good-to-be-true news — “Unless I put my finger where the nails were, ...” really hasn’t played very well.
Yes, I know you’ve always been a low-key sort, a non-pep-rally type whose turn of personality is to focus more on holes than donuts. But, yes, I also know that you’re a good man in a pinch. You’ll be glad to know that John remembered to record in his Gospel the fact that you were the only one who said, “Let’s go with him!” when all of you thought going back to Bethany with Jesus would mean sure death. And I guess it did. Christ’s death.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I like the idea my brother once shared with me. He thinks you weren’t with the guys that night because you loved him so much and his death had so broken you that you couldn’t stand to be with anybody as they prattled and rattled on. You needed to be by yourself.
I know for sure that I’m right when I say your statement of faith when you did see Christ — “You are my Lord and my God!” — is incredibly strong, one of the most noteworthy statements of faith ever uttered, and I’m with you as you’re with Christ. To draw breath is to put faith in something or someone, even if just ourselves (and that’s sad — and naïve). To live takes faith, and if faith in Christ is a mistake, I think it’s far less a mistake than the alternatives.
So just between us, I guess I’m glad you weren’t there at first, because, well, when the evidence comes in for you, it comes in for me, too.
Don’t broadcast this, but I’ve had some doubts myself
Curtis Shelburne writes about faith for The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact him at