Most Christians, without having to look him up, are familiar with the biblical apostle “Doubting Thomas”.
He needed to see for himself the resurrected Lord, feel the prints in His hands and feet to know for sure it was Him.
Multiple accounts recall the events leading up to, during, and after the last week of the Savior’s mortal ministry-
Before His infinite suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, before His bitter betrayal, arrest and trial, before His public humiliation and cruel crucifixtion, Christ called His 12 apostles to give up all they had, stand as His witnesses and to be at His side for the rest of their lives, committing themselves to His work.
They saw it all-from the first public miracle of Jesus turning water to wine at the marriage in Cana, calming the tempestuous seas not just once but multiple times, using His priesthood power to feed 5,000 men women and children with a few loaves of bread and a handful of fish on two occasions, restoring the sight to the blind, the deaf their hearing, the lame their ability to walk.
Lepers who were treated as outcasts and hopeless, were visited one on one by the Savior as He conversed with them, and healed them fully, to the amazement of the disciples. Having the power to raise the dead baffled the apostles as well, but they witnessed it with their own eyes through the miracle of Lazarus. Even the act of His robe being touched healed a woman with a serious blood condition all happening in a matter of seconds.
The apostles didn’t witness that outright, but were confused when the Savior asked who touched Him even though, according to His disciples, there were throngs of people surrounding Him. Just the act of touching His garment healed a woman.
Almost every miracle, even the last miracle of restoring the ear of the Roman solider that was cut off by Peter, as Christ was being unjustly arrested, was witnessed by the 12.
So it may come as a surprise to some, myself included, that when Peter James and John, Mary and others went to see the tomb after the brutal crucifixion, only to find the entry stone removed, the tomb empty, and the clothes folded on the stone, and their first initial reaction was, “Who had taken the body?”. They understandably thought that since the physical body of Christ wasn’t there, someone had to have moved it.
Even though time and time again, Christ told His apostles before His death that He would rise again, all of them initially thought His body was taken to a different location and they didn’t know for sure what had happened to Him.
We call Doubting Thomas just that because in scriptural account, we read that after Christ showed Himself to the majority of the apostles, Thomas hadn’t seen Him yet and said he would need to feel the nailprints in His hands and side to know for sure if it was indeed the Savior.
What follows is a popular scripture accredited to faith-
“Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
Can you imagine yourselves in Thomas’ shoes? He was a faithful follower of Christ, even going so far as saying:
“Let us also go, that we may die with Him“.
After finding out the dreaded fate of the Lord, he was willing and ready to die along with Him, despite the opposition from his fellow disciples to not go back to Judea for fear of death. He saw miracle after miracle, dined with, prayed with, walked and talked with the Son of God for years, so I don’t blame him for having a bit of doubt and wanting to see for himself the prints and the scars.
All of the apostles in my opinion, felt similar to Thomas after the death of Christ, but Thomas was probably more vocal about it. Remember, most of these men were fishermen by trade, some were tax collectors, so their education was not extensive. They were regular men who were called to a higher calling through the power of the priesthood and that helped them become the stalwart and strong followers of Christ.
Amidst all that, they were still human.
They had doubts and fears, frustrations and setbacks. Their mortal minds were momentarily blown most likely after seeing the resurrected Savior, and I would imagine a good number of them felt just like Thomas but kept silent.
There were times in my life where I had doubt, I didn’t know the answers and I was frustrated. I wanted proof of a solution because life hits us hard out of nowhere. We feel like we need some kind of instant relief, a sure answer, and it doesn’t come. Granted, that defeats the purpose of faith, but to be honest we all have moments where faith is hard to grasp. It’s a constant battle sometimes.
When I look at the lives of those incredible apostles I think “What would I have done?” Would I have dropped everything I was doing, gave up my occupation, and followed the Savior right then and there? Would I have the courage to stand up to oppressors, to defy the powerful Roman Empire? Would I brave the metaphorial storm of opposition and disdain with the constant fear of death?
It would be tough.
Just that act of faith alone is incredible. Thomas had to have questions but he put his faith first when he dropped his carpentry tools and followed Christ.
The constant threats by the Pharisees and Saducees, the looming presence of the Roman Empire, the hateful attitudes of the disbelievers, all trying to bring down the work of the Lord, and yet all but one of the apostles stayed true.
I’m sure when the Savior responded to Thomas about his faith, He wasn’t chastising, but merely reminding him of what kind of faith he had. Christ knew Thomas had faith because he witnessed it on a daily basis as Thomas was right there with Him through the thick and thin of it all.
Sometimes our trials and tribulations in life make us question our faith, it may push us a step back, but it’s at these times we should remember that we have more faith than we think we do.
Hold on to those memories of when our testimonies were strengthened, give room for the spirit to remind us of what it felt like when our determination to follow Christ was a sure foundation, and it will lead us to safety amidst the storms of life.
During this Easter season, our thoughts turn to Christ, His infinite atonement, and miraculous victory over death through the resurrection.
What are our initial empty tombs?
We each have reservations in our own way.
Thomas may have doubted, yes, but are we any different?