The Doubting Saint Thomas

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matthew 28:16-17)

St. Matthew in his Gospel account of the disciples encountering the Risen Lord Jesus reports that some of the disciples upon seeing Jesus were apparently doubtful about who they were encountering or about the resurrection itself.  Matthew offers us no detail about the nature of their doubt or about which disciples were dubious.  St. John in his Gospel (120:19-31) does describe for us one disciple, Thomas, and his doubts about the resurrection of Christ.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

St. Nikolai Velimirovic (d. 1956AD) comments that we should never be ashamed of our friends who are weak in faith or who doubt God at times:

“The Lord appeared this second time for Thomas’s sake – for the sake of one man, one sinner. He who is surrounded by the angelic choirs that joyfully hail Him as the Conqueror of death, leaves His heavenly flock and hastens to save one wandering sheep. Let all those who, coming to great glory and power in this world, forget their weak and humble friends and, with shame and scorn, draw back from them, be ashamed at His example. In His love for mankind, He – glorified and almighty – came down a second time into one simple room in Jerusalem. Oh, that blessed room, out of which there poured more blessings on the human race than there could ever be from all the palaces of emperors! When the Lord appeared to Thomas, Thomas cried out with joy: ‘My Lord and my God!’ With these words, Thomas acknowledged Christ as both Man and God, both in one, living Person.” (HOMILIES VOL 1, pp 222-223)

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