I’m a big fan of the tv show Lost. I have recently been watching the show again with my wife, and it has brought back so many memories. It is full of some of the most fascinating characters. There is one character in particular that when looked at closely is an incredibly intriguing mold of the two disciples Thomas and Judas. There is one scene that sticks out to me where the character foreshadows his own journey when he explains the disciple Thomas to another individual. He speaks of how Thomas was bold and daring in the gospel of John only to end with a rather deflated legacy.
John 11 gives us a unique situation for Jesus and his disciples. Word has just gotten to them that Lazarus is dead. After hearing this news Jesus makes the call to go and see Lazarus. There is a problem though. They will need to enter into land that they have had trouble in before. Last time they went to this destination Jews tried to stone Jesus. Going to see a dead man could very well mean joining that man in his death. Thomas stands up in the silence to make a bold statement. “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Scholars have debated over this a bit, but it is generally agreed that the “him” Thomas refers to is Jesus.
Such bold faith. What a shining example of being a follower of Christ. Thomas is electrified by who Christ is, and is apparently willing to follow him to death. Thomas goes by a different name though. He is not called Courageous Thomas. He is not called Loyal Thomas. Today he goes by a much different name. They call him Doubting Thomas. Why? Because upon Christ’s death and resurrection Thomas would not believe in the miracle by just hearing about it. He needed to actually put his hands into the wounds of Jesus flesh. He needed to see him alive, and touch his body in order to believe.
It’s ironic isn’t it? A man so courageous and willing to die for Christ now is simply known as the one who doubted. It’s a bit sad. Jesus responded to all of this by saying “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Thomas by all accounts would appear to be practical in his thought process. He needed to see the evidence to believe it. He needed the evidence in his hands even though he had already seen plenty of other miracles including the raising of a dead man back to life. Yet still he is known as doubting Thomas.
There are a whole host of applications you can get out of this man. There is a specific lesson that has stuck with me lately as I contemplate over this story. It was easy for Thomas in the beginning. He was with Jesus in that moment. He had experienced his power and wonder. He felt safe with Jesus near. He believed he could face death with Jesus. He had hope when Jesus was nearby. He felt strengthened when he could feel His presence. Things changed when the cross entered the picture.
I think we forget the psychological weight Christ’s death must have had on the disciples. Theirs hopes and dreams must have been shattered. They were broken. They were finally starting to grasp just what it meant for Jesus to be the Messiah. They were just getting used to the idea of Jesus being divinity. Think this through with me. They did not just simply witness their mentor on the cross, they saw their messiah on the cross. They saw their hope and salvation pierced with nail. What they experienced was even worse. They experienced loneliness. They had been so close to Jesus for so long, but now they felt alone and abandoned. They felt lost. No wonder they struggled taking up their crosses. This should resonate with us deeply today.
It is easy for us to act for God when we feel close to Him. When we feel his presence so strongly it compels us to action. What about the times where God feels distant though? What about the times when we feel that relationship is not quite as strong? What doubts do we have about God’s power when we are facing dark times? How often do we need to put our hands on redemption’s side when all seems lost?
Anyone can carry their cross when we feel the full power of God. It is when times are hard and His presence feels strangely absent that we waiver. That is when we become the doubting Thomas. What a blessing it must be to carry that cross even when we feel alone. What faith that must require. You and I don’t have the opportunity to literally put our hands on the wounds of Christ. That is all the more reasoning why we must remember His goodness and faithfulness when we feel alone. How joyful Thomas was when he had his faith in Jesus returned. What a relief that must have been for him.
Thomas went from a man of incredible courage and faith to a chief doubter to a man humbled and in awe as he placed his hands on the wounds of the living Christ. If Thomas could be here I think he would tell you to refrain from the doubt when all seems lost. The more lost you are, the more beautiful salvation is when it comes to save the day.