A Bible Story: Memories Of An Unspoken Question - From Thomas' Conversation With A Magistrate
"Doubting Thomas" doubted no more....
He came to my city with another man whose name I no longer recall. He himself was called "A Twin" or Didymus in our Greek. The other man was not his twin, for he was younger than this man he referred to as "Thomas, an apostle of Jesus Christ."
As remarkable as Didymus was in his physical appearance and humility, I had at first been struck by his peaceful courage. There seemed to be nothing about him which could explain the anger and hostility of our city's small Jewish community which was so antagonized by this humble man and his companion. Yet, he moved along purposely, as if their shouted threats and occasional hurled stones could not shake his focus on his inner thoughts.
He seemed a pilgrim whose body was among us, but whose thoughts were many leagues away, at once pondering what had been and what was to be.
To quell the moment's commotion, I had him and his companion brought to my home, and I requested that they stay the night and share my table with me.
It was my wisest decision in a lifetime of small and major decisions, for since that night I myself have turned to reflecting on what was and what is yet to be.
Didymus seemed untroubled in being called before me, and pleased at my invitation to partake of food and lodging. all the more so because he quickly perceived that I really wanted for the conversation of a stranger and might have questions he could likely enjoy answering.
My first surprise came when one of my servants brought warmed and scented water for my visitors to wash with before eating. Not only did Didymus wash the roadway dust from his face and hands, but he washed his own and his companion's feet!
Had I seen only that scene I would have presumed that his companion was his master, though his companion deferred to him in all else that evening.
After the usual chitchat about where they had come from, how long they might stay, and where they would be going next, I asked the purpose of such a journey.
It was the right question, for what followed was more remarkable by far than the most remarkable tale I had theretofore heard.
Didymus explained that he had come all the way from Judea and knew only that he was going to people he had never heard of, in places he had never been, and that he was sent there by a man who had lived, been crucified by the Romans and Jews, had returned to life, eaten with Didymus and others who had also been sent to other peoples and places, and then had disappeared after being miraculously raised into the clouds, disappearing from the sight of Didymus and his fellow apostles.
I was incredulous! I might have scoffed had not Didymus been so serious and had he not spoken in such a manner that I had no question of his sense of truthfulness in recounting his firsthand testimony to those events!
I asked the understandable question of why the local Jews were so disturbed by what was seemingly a direct messenger from the gods, come directly to their holiest city at a time when all hope for preserving their ancient faith seems so threatened.
Didymus replied that had he himself not personally experienced all that he had recounted, he would also find it hard to accept that the one god of us all had sent his son to live, teach, die, and be reborn among men.
That, he said, was why such doubt exists among many when they first hear of Jesus, the Christ promised to the Jews; and, why so many Jews, trusting as they must in the wisdom of their leaders in Jerusalem, find it hard to accept that such revered leaders would insist that the Romans execute Jesus, if in fact he was their promised Messias.
Didymus then added one more reason for the Jews' anger. "They are also concerned that now salvation, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life with God, are available to all men, women, and children, even to slaves, and not just to the promised children and people of Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and Jacob. They had always believed that Messias would come ushering in freedom from outsiders and triumph for the Jews. Instead he came ushering in eternal freedom for outsiders as well as Jews, and love for their enemies."
He continued, saying: "They wait even now, for one mightier than great King David, and for miracles in battle. They want one who can free them from Rome, but turned to Rome to free them from the very one they had prayed would come to guide them and set them free."
I asked why, if even the Jews did not recognize Jesus, why did he expect that other peoples, even Romans would?
His response was simple: "No man ever did what this mortal son of God did; no man ever spoke as he did; no man before him ever went to his death loving and forgiving those who were wrongly executing him; no man ever had the power and authority from god, until this son of god, to forgive men and women of their sins, heal them from incurable sufferings, and tell them how to return to god when this life is over."
I asked, "How does one return to god when this life is over?" He replied that he had been with Jesus throughout Jesus' years of teaching and healing, yet he had asked the same question, when finally Jesus had said that his life was ending and that one day Didymus and the others would go to be with him.
"For all my listening, observing, learning, and understanding, when Jesus said he would leave us and that we knew where he was going and the way to go, I had to admit in that moment of pending separation from him that none of us knew where he was going, nor how we could know the way."
"He replied that he was the way; he was the truth; he was the light to light the way, and that no one would come to his father except by his way, his truth, and his light."
"Another apostle, Phillip by name, had then spoken up and had asked Jesus to show us his father and we would be satisfied. Jesus replied that having seen him, and heard him, having witnessed his works, and having known how much he loved us and all men, we should have known what god is like, and what we must also do and be to be acceptable in god's sight."
I then asked, "If you had those opportunities again, is there a question you now wish you had asked, an answer you wish you had sought?"
He replied, "Many have asked me questions I cannot answer to their own satisfaction, and perhaps I cannot answer your to your satisfaction, but if I could once again ask Jesus a question I have not yet asked, it would be 'Lord, how may I best please thee this day?' In fact, I do that daily in my prayers as I go forward."
I couldn't resist asking, "And what do you believe he might answer you?"
He answered: "I believe his reply is: 'Say what I would say, love whom I would love, care for whom I would care, sacrifice yourself for others, as I have sacrificed myself for you, forgiving all men as I have forgiven you, and love my father by keeping the words he gave me to share with you. Go, sharing those same words with all you meet.'"
And so Didymus did. The following day before I had risen, he and his companion had resumed their journey, leaving me to ponder his words, and to wonder at the life, death, and rebirth of the Messias who had given those words to Didymus to share with me and with all he would surely meet on their ongoing journey.
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