John 11:16 Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Thomas is one of those characters who is misunderstood. The scene before us is Jesus preparing to travel to Bethany where he will raise Lazarus from the dead. The problem was that the disciples knew that if Jesus returned anywhere near Jerusalem they would all be in danger. Some have thought that Thomas’ reaction was rather dark and negative. Maybe he tended to be the “glass half empty” guy in the group but there was also some reality here. He was willing to go with Jesus and became resigned to the fact that they just might all die.
This may possibly have revealed a bit of doubt on Thomas’ part, or it may have been keen insight, we just don’t know for sure. We do know that Jesus didn’t rebuke him, neither this time nor in the future. While Thomas is willing to express his doubts, he also becomes stronger as a result. Ultimately Thomas lives out a life of faith and travels much of the world to tell people about the resurrected Christ. In this instance he may be misunderstood because as he voices resignation, he also voices faith. He was willing to go with Jesus and die.
It’s far too easy to judge people when we don’t know the whole story. Thomas is one of those who has been judged for 2000 years. Poor man! Even in this story we begin to judge him based on what we know will happen later. He bears the nickname “doubting Thomas” throughout all time! But was he really simply misunderstood. There are certain disciples about whom we know almost nothing and so this little glimpse of Thomas makes me think that he was probably quite misunderstood. There is more faith expressed in this statement of his then there is doubt. He may have been a bit of a pessimist (but honestly, Jesus did go and die!) — but maybe he was a realist.
Very rarely will people see things exactly the same way in which we see them. We judge people based on our few encounters that we have with them and from that we form an opinion on who they are and what makes them tick. The problem is that there is so much more to know and when we make decisions based on, say a Facebook post, or something that someone said about someone — we will misunderstand that person.
Jesus knew the true heart of Thomas and was never judgmental. Instead, Jesus lovingly continued to keep Thomas in his inner circle and eventually Thomas went on to become a great missionary. From this moment onward, Thomas is willing to give his life for Jesus and the mission. Jesus was patient, knowing that Thomas needed time to grow and develop his faith. He provided that space, and even the extra reassurance so that Thomas could become an incredible servant of God.
There may be a Thomas in our lives that is quite misunderstood. This may be someone who needs to be given the benefit of the doubt and space to become the person that God has intended. They may need mentoring and nurturing so that they can eventually flourish. No one needs to be written off, but everyone should be given a chance to be truly understood.
Lord, your love transforms those with doubts into those of great faith. May we reflect your love and patience with those around us. Amen.