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Doubting Thomas the Apostle

Updated on October 9, 2012

There are scores who don’t believe in Jesus Christ today. At the time he lived and died there were also skeptics. The 12 apostles believed in Him; however they were present on numerous occasions when he performed miracles. But, many who weren't privy to them were much like unbelievers of today. Unless seen with their own eyes, they refuse to accept somebody else’s word.

Of the 12 apostles, at least one was very much the same. That was Thomas, meaning twin in Greek. He was a commercial fisherman, who grew up around the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus came to Capernaum, the Master called for him to follow. Why Jesus selected him, only He knows. But, we can speculate.

Thomas was known as a pessimist and fatalist. Some people see a glass half full, Thomas sees it half empty. Once, when Jesus and his disciples heard about their friend Lazarus's death near Jerusalem, Thomas comments, "Yes, let's go there that we might diewith him." His words may have been expressed with sarcasm, but were also most prophetic.

When Thomas sees Jesus arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane he flees for his life, but watches from a distance as his Master is crucified on Good Friday. For Thomas, all hope is gone. Although he had witnessed Jesus work miracles, he apparently thought not even He could come back from the dead.

On Saturday Thomas is dazed, hurt, bitter and so disillusioned he doesn't meet with the other disciples for an evening meal. He was unaware of the miraculous occurrence that took place in his absence. Monday morning, the disciples go looking for their companion to tell him.

When he is found they relate how they were in the upper room behind locked doors when Jesus suddenly appears. At first they can’t believe their eyes. Then they see his hands where they were pierced and the wound from the spear. But he wasn’t weak, sick or dying. He was alive and well…risen from the dead.

Thomas doesn’t believe a word of it. They fail to convince him their Master has returned. "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it," Thomas says. The next Sunday evening he joins his friends for supper in the same locked room. Once again, Jesus suddenly appears.

Thomas stares in disbelief. Jesus speaks to Thomas showing his wounded hands. He next opens his garment and tells Thomas to reach out and put his hand into His side. Thomas falls to his knees weeping and says "My Lord and my God!"

"Doubting Thomas," as he is sometimes called doubts no more. Jesus replies, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Thomas becomes the first disciple to put into words the truth Jesus is both Lord and God, the greatest confession of faith recorded in the Bible.

Filled with renewed energy he sails to Malabar on the west coast of India in 52 AD. He preaches the good news to high caste Brahmins, as well as others and establishes churches. When the Portuguese land in India during the early 1600s, they find the Mar Thoma or “Church of Thomas”established through Thomas' preaching a millennium and a half before.

It’s firmly held Thomas died near the ancient town of Mylapore in 72 AD, near present-day Madras. Tradition tells us he was thrown into a pit and killed with a spear thrown by a Brahmin. He will forever be credited for the name Doubting Thomas.

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