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Let’s Talk: About Doing Thomas

Photo of Rev. Dr. Diane Weibleby Conference Minister Diane Weible

I have preached on the story of Doubting Thomas more than any other scripture passage. As Conference Minister, it is not unusual for me to be asked to preach the Sunday after Easter, which, traditionally, includes this story in the Revised Common Lectionary.

My feelings about Thomas have shifted over the years. This year I was really surprised by a connection one of my lectionary sources made of this passage to passages that come before this one. While I was aware of each passage, I hadn’t seen the connection until it was pointed out to me.

The Disciples are locked in the room eight days after Jesus’ resurrection; eight days after Jesus first came to them.

On Resurrection Day, Jesus appears to the Disciples. He offers these words: “Peace be with you.” He offers a charge to the Disciples to go out and forgive the sins of others and, basically, be about the work that Jesus began.

Eight days later, the Disciples (with Thomas) are locked in a room. The way the passage is written, I feel their fear. Despite Jesus’ words of peace, they have not gone out into the world preaching Jesus’ message of forgiveness but have succumbed to their fear and are hiding.

Did Jesus really come for Thomas so he would believe in the Resurrection? Or, perhaps, did Jesus come to try again with all the Disciples; to remind them of their call into the world; their call out of fear and into courage and possibility?

What are our fears that prevent us from embracing God’s call in our lives? What stops us from stepping out into the world to serve as we are called?

It can feel scary and overwhelming at times when we see all the hurt and pain in the world. The people of Ukraine; African Americans who deserve reparations for the work they did to build this country; a living wage and medical care for all; the damage we have done to our earth and those who suffer because of it; to name a few of the things that are near and dear to my heart.

I always have wondered why Thomas was not there that first day when all the other Disciples were scared and locked in their room, the first time Jesus came to them. Why was Thomas not afraid? Was he out continuing the work of Jesus even before he touched the scars to prove Jesus was alive?

If so, maybe instead of calling Thomas “Doubting Thomas,” we should be calling him “Believing Thomas” or “Doing Thomas.”

Is it possible that all of us could use a little of Thomas’ courage as we look for those space sand places where God is calling us to step out and make a difference? I believe we could all use a little of Doing Thomas energy in this season of Eastertide. May it be so.

2 Comments

  • Rev. Terry de Grace-Morris

    I wonder what it means to doubt. Some take doubt to mean total disbelief. Yet, the dictionary tells us that doubt means “a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.” So, it sounds more a question than a closed door. And so I wonder about Thomas’s uncertainty. Of being unsure. Perhaps even confused. Isn’t that confusion common to most of us. That we are often unsure about our world, our lives, even our beliefs. Things happen. Life happens. I am glad that you did not beat up on Thomas for being human. Thank you, Boss.

  • Dick Ober

    The passage that helps define Thomas for me is John 11:7-16. Jesus announces his intention to return to Bethany because of Lazarus’ sickness and death. The disciples get busy trying to discourage him because of the dangers involved. The conversation comes to a close when Thomas says to the rest, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” In that moment Thomas was the one true believer. He believed so strongly in Jesus that he would rather die with Jusus than live without him. That’s why I prefer to call him Believing Thomas.

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