Year 2 Day 171
Read - John 11v1-16
Message - Scott Woodburn
There are only a few Apostles more famous than Thomas despite the fact that he is barely mentioned anywhere except John’s Gospel. Why is he famous? Because, to this day, we remember that he doubted the resurrection of the Lord and therefore became “Doubting Thomas”. It isn’t his only nickname. We’re not sure what Thomas’ real name was, but he is called Thomas (or Didymus in Greek) which means “the twin”.
So Thomas had a twin brother or sister and is famous for his doubting. Is that it? Not quite. John shows us a little bit of the Apostles’ bravery too. Before Jesus goes to raise Lazarus from the dead he tells his disciples “Let us go to Judea again.” (v7). In the midst of quite a famous story we often miss this casual remark, yet it startled the Lord’s Disciples.
To return to Judea was a dangerous move on behalf of Christ, with the Disciples warning “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?“ (v8) The Apostles love the Lord and they know that there are many seeking to take His life. It would seem ludicrous to walk back into the lion’s den.
However events quickly move forward with the death of Lazarus and so the protests of the Disciples fall short. Jesus will go to the tomb of His friend and the raising of the dead man will result in the glory of God (v4) and the strengthening of the Apostles’ faith (v15). It is at this moment that the bravery of Thomas shines through. He will not allow his Master to go alone and declares to the other Apostles “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (v16)
Such awesome bravery! Thomas was prepared to die with Christ! Perhaps we should change his nickname to “Thomas the Brave” or “Thomas the Hero”? Before we rush ahead, it is worth remembering that Thomas doesn’t die alongside Christ. Jesus stands alone before Pilate and as the Shepherd is struck, the sheep (including Thomas) scatter. So he is a doubter and now we realise that he doesn’t keep his promises either. Are you now beginning to regret naming your son Thomas?
We’re not going to change Thomas’ nickname and nor will we throw him to the lions. Brothers and sisters, do your intentions always match your actions? Do you always keep your promises? Do you always have unwavering and unshakeable faith? None of us are the heroes we imagine ourselves to be, yet by faith, our confession of Christ is the same as the confession of Thomas. He would see with his own eyes the risen Christ and declared “My Lord and my God!” (John 20v28)
Thomas didn’t die with Jesus but he would end up dying because of Jesus. Thomas the doubter became Thomas the resolute, taking the Gospel perhaps as far as India and eventually being tortured to death because he would not deny Christ.
I’m thankful that when my faith is weak and my doubts are many that my Saviour doesn’t wash His hands of one such as I. Jesus is the Saviour and friend of sinners, sinners who constantly fail but constantly know the glorious grace of Jesus. The Lord has gone to prepare a place for us and one day He will return so that where He is, we may be also. There is no doubt about that place or how to get there. Thomas once did not know the way, but soon Jesus declared to “the twin” and today to us “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14v6)
Q56 What is the reason annexed to the third commandment? The reason annexed to the third commandment is, that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment.