How would you like it if the entirety of your life was defined by one of your weakest moments that was temporary and out of character? I think we would all cry, “foul!” We’d all agree that such is not fair, and it paints a distorted picture. Yet is this not what some have done to the apostle, Thomas?
Grant it, Thomas doubted the resurrection of Jesus (John 20:25), but so did Peter, James, John and the rest of the apostles (Mark 16:14). It is true that Jesus told Thomas to touch the wounds in his hands and side (John 20:27), but he also told the other apostles to do the same thing (Luke 24:39-40). Yet, do we ever characterize or dub Peter as “Doubting Peter?” Or do we ever speak of “Doubting James,” or “Doubting John?”
I might suggest we’ve been more gracious with them than we have with Thomas. There was so much more to Thomas than his momentary doubt concerning the resurrection of Jesus. In John 14:5-6, it was Thomas who, among all the apostles, was the lone man who seemed to have the courage to speak up and basically say, “I don’t understand what you’re saying, could you please explain.” It was Thomas who challenged his frightened, reluctant, fellow apostles to follow Jesus to their death if that is what the circumstances might bring (John 11:8,16). It was Thomas, who according to tradition, died as a martyr while taking the gospel to India.
My point of this post is not to gloss over Thomas’ doubt, but rather to view it in the context of a life of faithful service to Jesus. Please don’t define his life by this momentary lapse of faith. He was so much better than that. And while we’re talking about it, could there be other people (i.e. friends, co-workers, family, etc.) that deserve the same grace? Read Matthew 7:12 and give it some thought.