Scripture: John 11:1-27
Key verse: (16) Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him”
Reflection: Thomas gets a bad rap. He is the disciple of Jesus who is known mostly for being a so-called doubter. This is based on one story which occurs on the first Easter evening, when the risen Jesus visits the disciples, and Thomas is the only one who misses it, and therefore doesn’t believe that it has happened. Doubting Thomas. It is the story that defines him. Over the centuries, he becomes synonymous with lack of faith and skepticism. Who is Thomas? The one who doesn’t believe.
Human beings have a tendency to reduce people to one story like this. We forget that all of us are complex people – that we are all capable of beautiful acts and sinful ones, sometimes in the same hour. We’d like to categorize people into “good” and “bad”, but it is more true that, as Solzhenitzyn once wrote, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through every human heart.”
The story today is about Jesus being summoned to raise Lazarus, but it is also a story about Thomas’ dedication to following Christ. While the other disciples question Jesus’ decision to go to his friend, Thomas pledges his loyalty, summoning his friends to follow Jesus, trusting him. This is a story we do not often hear about Doubting Thomas, because it contradicts what we think is truest about him – that he lacked faith. And yet, here he is, inviting us into deeper devotion. Pair this story with the more famous one, and he is both Trusting Thomas and Doubting Thomas. Are we all not such a mix?
What a wonderful surprise, and a word of encouragement to those of us who know we have a checkered record of faith. What if it is true that, as Thomas suggest to us, we can be people who are full of faith and honest questions at the same time? Take it one step further: what if it is true that, as Bryan Stevenson would have it, “each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done?” What if it is really true that God invites us – all of us – regardless of merit or strength of faith, into abundant life?
Prayer: Dear God, give me eyes to see myself and others the way you see me, that I might accept myself and others as beloved children of God. Amen.
Author: Anna Dickson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].