Doubting Thomas: Monologue
‘Doubting Thomas’? Yes, that’s me! Do I mind being called that? I suppose it could be galling to have gone down in history as a doubter, but in a way I’m glad, you know. How can I explain?
You see, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doubts. Oh, I’m not talking here about the excuses we palm off as doubts: it’s not the same as uninformed prejudice, a sense of guilt or the fear of change. No, I’m thinking about good, honest questions. There’s a lot to be said for them, in my opinion.
Some of the other disciples never really understood that. Maybe they were just upset with me for not believing them - but then they’d already seen Jesus alive, you see. I hadn’t.
Anyway, as I told them at the time, all this stuff about Jesus rising from the dead was just too important to accept uncritically. What if it was all just a cruel joke, or they’d imagined it all, had group delusions or whatever you call it? We loved him so much, you see…We’d followed him; listened to him; eaten with him; shared our lives. Seeing him die was worse than anything I’d ever experienced – worse than anything I WILL ever go through, I dare say. And we were desperate: grief-stricken; lonely; terrified. Of course I WANTED it to be true! But how could I be certain without seeing him for myself?
Being a Christian is no bed of roses, I can tell you, and I could never have coped with the past few years if all I had to go on was a faded dream or a vague hope. But Jesus, he put up with me and my doubts. He gave what I needed and took me beyond what I thought I could become. I ended traveling all the way to the nation you know as India and establishing the Christian faith there.
That all came after the resurrection. On the night of the Passover meal, before Jesus was arrested, none of knew what was coming. He held the bread of Passover up before us and said, “This is my body, broken for you.” What did that mean? We didn’t know.
He got on his knees to wash our feet. What was he doing? Peter, as always, speaking without thinking, argued with Jesus and then did what he said. Judas, slipped out after the foot washing. I was never sure about what he was up to. He always seemed to his own agenda on the side. I had no idea he was set to betray Jesus that night. No idea at all.
I didn’t have any side agenda. I had side conversation. That night Matthew had the misfortune of sitting beside me.
“What’s he doing?” I asked Matthew. He told me to ‘let it go.’
“What’s he talking about?” I asked when Jesus said the bit about not drinking the fruit of the vine again until he drank it in the Kingdom. I was pestering Matthew with questions.
That Matthew! So good with numbers and money, but he never questioned anything. If Jesus said he was the bread of life, Matthew just accepted it. I knew he didn’t understand it. None of us did. But not understanding didn’t bother Matthew.
If I understood, I would go to the ends of the earth for Jesus. And in the end I did. At least India seems likes the opposite end of the earth from Jerusalem. But that night, the night of the Passover, I lost all my boldness.
We all acted so tough. “No, no Jesus, we won’t betray you. We’re with you to the end.” We all said that. James the rugged fisherman; Simon, the wanna-be rebel; the all-too-honest Nathaniel. We were all so courageous in our own minds. At least Peter picked up a sword before he fled into the night. But in the end, that’s what we all did. We ran just like Jesus knew we would.
But, after it was all over, he welcomed us back. That’s what Jesus does. He takes you at your worst and helps you become your best. Now, whenever I lead a church in worship and I break the bread before the congregation and together, we drink the wine, I remember that night. I also remember seeing Jesus a few days later. And I remember him loving me in my doubts. And I remember him changing the direction of my life.
That’s Jesus. He turns us around.