April 19, 2020 (Sunday) - Believing Thomas - A Reflection on John 20:19-31

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Thomas, the apostle. He is legendary as Doubting Thomas. But once his doubts were clarified — in very dramatic fashion at that; he put his hand into Jesus’ side to ensure he was actually real — not only did he became a Believing Thomas, he became a Go-Out-And-Get-Them-Thomas too. He travelled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, traveling as far as the Malabar Coast, which is in modern-day Kerala. He is believed to have established seven churches there. He baptized several families whose descendants can trace their Christian lineage back to the ancestors who were baptized by Thomas.

Now, I want us to reflect on something. The distance from India to Rome is 6,571 kilometers. The flying time is about 8.5 hours. But in Thomas’ time there were no aircraft and he had to make a very perilous journey by ship that would have taken him weeks. Why would he travel so long and so far, risking life and limb, unless he was totally convinced about Jesus, that he was the Son of God come down to redeem mankind? Yes, he had needed some proof, but once he got it, he totally believed! 

Now, once he believed this good news  — nay, amazing news — then he became duty bound to share it with others, because Jesus’ death and resurrection, meant the death and resurrection for everybody else who believed. He could have stuck in Rome and spoken to the Romans about this amazing news but there were others doing that. He wanted to reach out to everybody, even as far away as India, and he didn’t mind putting his own life in jeopardy, so that others could have life — eternal life.

But it wasn’t just a matter of reaching his destination. Once he reached India, he had to talk to the people, and since he didn’t speak the language, he had to first learn it before he could communicate with them! Then he had to tell them about Jesus, somebody they had never heard about before, and the stories would have been decidedly strange. Virgin birth. Miracle-filled life. Passion and Crucifixion. Glorious resurrection. And then, once he told them the story, he had to make them understand how they would receive eternal life if they believed in Jesus. 

As you can imagine, this wasn’t an easy task at all. Yet he did it. The other apostles did it. People who followed them did it as well. So what has happened to us? We might not all be able to do what Thomas did, but may I tell you something we can all do? We can all share the good news by simply sharing reflections such as these. Please forward this message to your family and friends. And for those of you who want to do more, tell Jesus you’re ready and willing to do what Thomas did.

Like many others Thomas came from the West to East with the good news. We are now going to return the favor by going from the East to the West. Get ready to get moving.