Regarding how we view ‘doubting Thomas.’ I think it’s easy for us to look back and think Thomas simply didn’t have much faith, but we need to remember just how extreme a situation it was for the early Apostles. I wrote this short dramatized account to highlight some of the tension that may have been going on at the time.
“Must we wait here to die!” Thomas asked the other ten Apostles.
“Stop striking fear into our hearts Thomas! We are not going to die! We should not fear anything,” Peter said with only half as much conviction in his tone as the group was accustomed to hearing.
“Then why are we locking ourselves up here like criminals? Why is the door locked tight, Peter? You know as well as all of us what happens to the followers of a blasphemer, death by stoning!” Thomas said angrily. “It is a miracle that we are still alive! But for how long? The Sanhedrin is probably doing an investigation as we speak and preparing our arrests!”
James, one of the sons of Zebedee, grabbed Thomas by his cloak and held him against the wall. “Do you want to die Thomas, is that what you want? Because you don’t have to wait for the Romans or the elders to arrange that, I would gladly offer my assistance!”
John jumped to his feet and separated them. “Is this what Jesus would have wanted? You are brothers! Let us keep the bond of peace between us.” John turned to the apostles and those there with them, “Our woman have given us testimony that he has risen, Peter and I can testify that the tomb is empty! The Lord himself appeared to Peter as he returned from the Tomb. Why are we still mourning his death?” Turning to Thomas he continued “Why are some of you so quick to call him a failed messiah? Will not one of us believe that he has truly risen?”
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. It was Clopas and Stephen. They entered the room with great joy, a stark contrast to when they left earlier in the day. They stood in front of everyone in the room and declared: “Brothers, it is true, Jesus has risen! He appeared to us today as we walked to Emmaus!”
The room fell silent, an uncomfortable silence. Stephen stepped forward, “Why are you still downcast brothers, we bring good news. What the woman have reported is true, Jesus is risen!”
Suddenly Thomas shouted at Stephen and Clopas “Enough of this nonsense! Enough already!” He looked around the room at the others, “How long are we going to go on trying to fool ourselves? We have spent the last 3 years of our lives following a lie! Should we continue now by deceiving ourselves?”
“But brother,” Stephen replied, “we seen him with our own eyes, I assure you he is alive.”
Thomas turned to Stephen. “Oh you have seen him, and what did he look like? Last time I saw him he was beaten beyond recognition; he was nailed to a cross! So what about now, only 3 days later, please Stephen, tell me, does he still have the nail marks in his hands? Does he still have the flogging marks across his face, his back, his legs? Is his flesh still torn open? If you really saw Jesus, what did he look like?”
There was a deafening silence in the room, Stephens eyes welled up as he tried to hold back his tears “Thomas, brother, he is alive. We … we saw him just today, he met with us … he-”
Thomas interrupted him in a laud and irritated tone. “But what did he look like?”
Clopas spoke up “He looked well. He was healed of his afflictions. He didn’t have the same appearance, he looked like a stranger to us … but we know it was him!”
“He looked like a stranger!” Thomas declared, clenching his fists over his eyes he let out a laud moan in frustration. He opened his eyes and looked around at the other men and women in the room. Tears welled up in his eyes, “Must we continue this sad game? Have we not suffered enough? Do you expect us to believe you saw him on a lonely road, disguised as a stranger? Or the women, should we believe that a gardener near the tomb was the Lord? Can’t you see what is happening? Our group is looking for any reason to believe he is still alive.” Thomas shook his head, he gazed around at all the Apostles, and said sadly, “When a man is tortured to within an inch of his life and then nailed to a cross for 6 hours, only to have a Roman sword pierced into his side … I assure you, he can not recover. It’s impossible. Yet we are to believe that he has not only recovered but is even able to walk? Are you all out of your minds?”
Clopas stepped forward and tried to comfort Thomas, “Brother, my own eyes saw him, can you not trust the testimony of your own dear friends? I tell you the truth, we have seen the Lord.”
Thomas shook his head in frustration, pushing Clopas’ arm off his shoulder. “You saw a man, a random stranger, who you wanted to believe was Jesus-but you are delusional!” he screamed. He turned around once more pointing his finger at Peter and the rest, and cried out, “I tell you, unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger into his side I will not believe it!”