Monday, July 03, 2006

Pullin' for the underdog ....

Poor Saint Thomas (whose feast we celebrate today) kinda gets a bad rap. While the full scoop can be found in John 20:19-29, here's a brief paraphrased version of the deal:
Jesus has been crucified and has risen from the dead. Mary Magdalene sees him, and tells the apostles that she's seen him. The apostles are hiding out in the upper room, which is locked, because, after all, their leader has just been executed .... go figure, you don't want to be too public at a time like that. Jesus shows up in the locked room, shows them his hands and side, and they rejoice at seeing him. Thomas isn't there that night, and when the others tell him what he missed, he says "Yeah, right. I'll believe it when I see it."

The next week, they're still locked in the upper room. Jesus shows up again, tells Thomas, "Go ahead, stick your fingers in the nail holes, if you really want me to prove it." Then, after Thomas declares, "My Lord and my God," Jesus commends those "who have not seen and yet believe."
Thus, poor Thomas is forever branded "Doubting Thomas" ... like he's the only negative apostle of the bunch? What about "Denying Peter" or "Betraying Judas"?

Let's get this straight. The initial group of apostles don't rejoice until after Jesus shows them his hands and side — and yet Thomas gets blamed for wanting the same kind of treatment? Come on, now. I've got older brothers, I know how guys are. "Oh yeah, sure. Our best friend who was just crucified showed up here in the locked room while I was out in the bathroom. Oh no, of course I believe you. You would never try to put one past me." Seriously, you can't tell me that you wouldn't kinda hesitate to buy that one sight unseen. Besides, it's not like the other apostles took Mary Magdalene at her word.

Then you've got them locked in the upper room. Jesus shows up the first time, wishes them peace, and tells them, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And how well do they obey that command? Well, let's see here .... it's one week later and they're out spreading the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ hiding out in the upper room. Again. Locked in. Again. Yeah, they really took his message of peace and word-spreading to heart, didn't they?

I guess I'm just a sucker for the underdog. I like to point out to my kids how the apostles were faulty flawed human beings just like the rest of us — which takes away our whole "I'm not holy enough" excuse. And really, if you put yourself in most of the stories in the Gospels, you can't tell me that, without the benefit of hindsight, you wouldn't get caught in the exact same traps of stupidity and disbelief that plagued most of the disciples at any point in time.

And yet, they are the apostles. They are the Twelve, chosen by Christ to be his followers. Even Doubting Thomas, Denying Peter, and Betraying Judas.

Which gives a little hope to folks like Clueless Steph, the Reluctant NunTM.

Doubting Thomas .... not such a bad guy to look to, after all. At least he asked the questions and explored his faith. Just like I try to get my kids to do. "Wherever you are is fine, as long as you're open to the journey."


Blogger HeyJules said...

"Doubting Thomas .... not such a bad guy to look to, after all. At least he asked the questions and explored his faith."

What a great way to look at it! I absolutely love it. And I'm with you - I'll take someone who says "show me" over someone who says "If that's what he said it must be true..."

You tell those wonderful kids of yours to keep exploring the truth and never take anything for granted. The more you ask of God, the more will be revealed. I say, "If in doubt, doubt away!"

7/03/2006 5:19 PM  
Blogger Lorem ipsum said...

I like Thomas, and I identify with him. A born pessimist, he was afraid to believe anything that might be too good to be true!

What about the others whose names we never hear? There was the other Judas, and a father and son, and at least another Simon. Complacent chaps, weren't they?

7/03/2006 7:29 PM  
Blogger JVD said...

Actually, Thomas was ever cooler. He always seemed to have more courage than the others when Jesus was with them, and even after. While everybody else was locked in the upper room, scared for their lives, Thomas wasn't. He missed Jesus because he was outside, hopefully spreading the Gospel.

7/04/2006 12:25 AM  
Blogger see-through faith said...

I like Thomas. He gives us the need to know why we believe as well as what we believe in. And trust me to be good witnesses we need both.

Our faith is based onthe witness of the Apostles to the resurrection. I think their faith and ours - was helped by Thomas' honest doubt. Jesus proved he was real. He invited him to put his hands on the wounds and to eat with him.

God knew we'd need help in our faith - it's not about blind faith at all - but also about fact. Jesus showing himself to Thomas helped proved the resurrection tohim and made him an effective witness - convinced the early believrs enought that they'd die for their beliefs.

that's not doubt at all - that's faithin action!

7/05/2006 5:54 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

But what does this say about Jesus?

He shows the others his wounds. They needed to see. Then he dumps on Thomas for wanting to see the same thing.

Sheesh, Jesus sounds like some second rate manager in a shoe lace factory.

Just another reason to DOUBT that the text of the Bible was divine inspiration.

And...Clueless Steph, the Reluctant NunTM...LOL

7/05/2006 8:52 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Plus, nobody every points out that in John 11 when Jesus goes to raise Lazurus from the dead in Bethany, right next to Jerusalem, all the other disciples are a bit nervous to go because of the chief priest et. al. But not Thomas. He's all, "let's go and if we die, we die."

As you point out jvd, he was probably the only one with the courage to leave the upper room and that's why he missed Jesus in the first place.

7/24/2006 5:21 PM  

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