Summary: A monologue, in which the disciple Thomas reflects on his time with Jesus, and the events following the resurrection.
Style: Dramatic. Duration: 12min
Scripture: John 20: 19-31
My name is Thomas. I was one of the followers of Jesus. Maybe you know me - maybe not. If you do, it's probably with the nickname "Doubter" attached. I've been saddled with that name for a long time. There is truth in it, yes, but there is more to my story than what the nickname implies.
I was never one of the special disciples - not like Peter and Matthew and Mark. Not at the bottom of the list either, with Judas. I was just one of the ones who joined up - You might think there were only 12 of us, but there were others as well, some came and left. But I stayed.
Why I began to follow Jesus it is hard to say. I certainly never expected him to affect me the way he did. I come from pretty common stock. Working class Jewish background. Unhappy about the Roman occupation. Cynical about the Jewish Council and the Pharisees who tried to keep us quiet and submissive so they could get the goodies the Romans threw them.
When I heard Jesus preach, however, I thought to myself. Say, this guy is amazing. He is talking about a God that I could only dare to believe is real. A God who cares for the common person. A God who cares that people are suffering. A God who gets involved in people's lives. This was not what I had been hearing from the other preachers. And so I tagged along, doing whatever was called for.
And over time I began to realize two things -
1. That Jesus was helping me to find courage and generosity that I never knew I had, and that I really enjoyed helping people.
2. That Jesus was getting into a lot of trouble.
I remember the day that Lazarus died. Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha had been our dearest friends. We often stayed with them at their home in Bethany. It was a quiet, safe place to get away - a kind of retreat center where we could rest from our travels. We owed that family more than a debt of gratitude.
They put not only food on the table for us - they also put their lives on the line for Jesus. They took some real risks in having us in their home.
And then one day Jesus got a message that Lazarus had died. There was nothing much at the time he could do about it. We went on with our work, with Jesus preaching and healing many in the name of God. We stayed a few days after we got the news of Lazarus' death, and then Jesus announced that we were going back to Bethany. He said something about Lazarus being asleep and that he was going to awaken him.
Whatever he meant by that we couldn’t understand at the time, but what we did understand was that it was dangerous to go there. Not because of Lazarus but because Jesus had gotten himself in some major hot water with the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem.
If we went to Bethany we could well be walking to our deaths. These guys really had it in for him, I'll tell you! Most of the other disciples thought he was nuts. Rabbi, the last time we were there they were ready to stone you. Are you going there again?
But Jesus just looked at them, spoke about Lazarus again, and about walking in the light and not stumbling. I'll tell you, it was Jesus' words that did it for me.
I stopped listening to the others. By this point I felt we had nothing to lose. We had left everything behind already. We were either for him or against him. It may have been the case that we would die with him, but I was ready to put everything I had on the line for him.
Don't call me brave. I wasn't that. Impetuous would be more like it. I just blurted out what was going on in my heart. Let's go! That we may die with him!
Let's go! That we may die with him! How was I to know that what I said was anything more than some off the cuff remark! How would I have known what this dying business was about? None of us understood what Jesus knew about his death.
All I can say for certain is that he was not afraid of it.
Well, they didn't catch him in Bethany. But they did in Jerusalem, alright. They caught him thanks to one of us. It was Judas, of all people! O Judas! You pathetic, well-meaning fool! He sold Jesus to the temple police for a bag of coins.
I suppose they would have found him anyway, there was some kind of bounty on his head, it would seem. Anything they could do to be rid of him. Anything to silence him and stop him from preaching about the Kingdom of God. He was upsetting the religious authorities, you see. They thought he was forming some kind of new movement.
They had it all nice and cozy with the Romans. The Romans would leave the Jews alone as long as the common people did not get too excited about wanting to change things. But Jesus was putting all these ideas in their heads about common people being like royalty in the KG. He was telling them they were blessed in their suffering. He was healing them of their diseases. He was getting them to hope for something better - to look for a new kind of world where everyone was treated properly and all were equal. He treated women and children in the same way men were treated.
They just couldn’t leave him alone. And neither could the Romans. And neither could the religious council.
He was walking into it, all right. It happened in Jerusalem.
I'll spare you the details. Maybe you know them. The betrayal, the torture. The mock trial. The agonizing death on that horrible cross. And then the burial in Joseph's tomb.
After that, I kind of stopped dreaming. I felt like a man who had been hollowed out. I was beyond grief. There was nothing left of me. I began to question everything I had done for the last three years. I wondered if Jesus had deluded me.
But you know, I still wanted to believe it - all the things he had said and done and stood for. Never mind that Jesus was dead - that I would never hear him speak again, that I would never embrace him and laugh with him and break bread with him. Never mind that I was in shock.
At the core of my being I still wanted to live for something. I still wanted to have a purpose for my life. I wanted to live like he were still alive and walking beside me.
The group began to break up. None of us, except for Mary, stayed at the cross. None of us would admit to knowing him. All I had said about going with him to die with him just evaporated. I was afraid. Really afraid. I didn't know who to trust, even among the group. Someone else might be the next Judas.
I stayed away for most of the next few days. Then a couple of the fellows found me. I told them to go away. I had to get myself together. And then they told me something We have seen the Lord!
I didn't believe them. I didn't trust them. No way, I said. I don't believe your story. I don't know why you're telling me this. It's just messing up my head. You have to have proof. I want to see the mark of the nails on his hands, and I want to put my finger in the holes. That's how much proof you are going to have to give me. Now get out of here. Show me Jesus, or you'll never see me again.
For a week it was much the same. I began to get my head back in one piece. I started to make plans for going home - to put all this in some perspective. I saw the fellows again one day and they invited me to come - even if just for one last time - to get together again.
So we were gathered there in this room, and then it happened. Jesus came in. He stood among us, big as life. My head was pounding and spinning. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I guess he'd heard what I said earlier because he came right over to me. He held out his hands. I stared at them for a moment - at the dried scars on his wrists. He opened his tunic at the side and showed me the place where the spear had gone into his skin. I shuddered in revulsion.
And then he took my hand by the finger and he poked it into the hole on his other wrist. He placed my hand over the gap in his side. For a moment I was speechless.
Finally I found some words. They were the only words I could possibly say. I looked him in the eyes and said My lord and my God!
Then Jesus spoke to me Have you believed because you have seen me? Then he turned from me to the others and said Blessed are those who have not seen - and yet have come to believe.
You know, I wish you could have been with me. Those scars - those words - that encounter have changed my life forever.
I know you can't go back in time to that moment. But you know, you don't have to - not to believe like I do now. The new life he gave me is just as real for you. You may not have seen like I did - but you can come to believe!
The Spirit of Jesus is among you even now.
I see you are having a meal together this morning. That's good. Let me tell you just this - you will remember him, when you break the bread and remember his love. We are all children of one God.
(C) Copyright, Jim Hatherly, all rights reserved.
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