In John 20: 19-29 two stories are told. The first is Jesus’ initial appearance to the disciples in a locked room. He appears, not as a ghost, but in a resurrected body, and gives them the blessings of peace and the Holy Spirit. The encounter is quick yet vibrant. Afterwards the disciples are excited to tell Thomas, their friend and colleague.
For some unreported reason, Thomas was not present during Jesus initial appearance. Perhaps he was the only disciple who had courage to go out and pick up some fish and bread for supper. Perhaps he went out to get a stiff drink or wanted some time alone to think. Whatever the reason, Thomas was gone and missed all the excitement.
Then he ruins the disciple’s excitement with his skeptical response, “Unless I see the marks, touch the wounds, I will not believe.” I suspect that such honest skepticism threw cold water on the disciples. How were they to tell other about Jesus’ resurrection when their own friend immediately rejected the claim? I wonder if an argument between Thomas and the others ensued; there is no report of one. Did the disciples’ faith simply wilt under the harsh, cold logic of Thomas, or did they continue to believe with burning hearts?
It was a week before Jesus showed up and turned doubting Thomas to confessing Thomas. A week of wonder, questions, and some dis-ease. I wonder how Thomas and the others got along during that time. It is a powerful witness to their lasting friendship that he is still hanging out with the guys when Jesus briefly appears again.
I remember my friend, Jerry Zimler, in college. Raised a secular Jew in New York, he came to a faith in Jesus while in college. He and I would disagree on many matters of faith, like worship, prayer, and ethics. Still he invited me home over Thanksgiving break to experience the love (and chaotic vitality) of his family. I still cherish that visit even though Jerry died some twenty-five years ago.
How do you handle those who disagree with you? Do all your friends have to think like you?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me to listen to my friends and neighbors and to learn from them.