Many of us think of Thomas as a disciple and a doubter, but we can forget he asked one of the greatest questions in Scripture. My personal hunch or opinion is that he was a very analytical type of individual, one who wanted to be sure before he made a decision. Too many people build walls between faith and facts, when ideally there should be a balance and open communication between these concepts.

This second look at Thomas doesn't reveal a doubter, but rather a person who was listening to Jesus and asking Him to explain or clarify something He had said. Too many times people hear, but don't listen. For many people, the truth God wants people to receive doesn't get past their eardrums. Thomas heard, but didn't understand, and he wanted Jesus to explain something He had said.

Today's text is John 14:1-6: "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going. Thomas said to Him, 'Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?' Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.'"

The Message Jesus Gave to the Disciples
We'll need to review John's gospel, chapter 13, to get the setting and context for Thomas' question. John recorded the events (and what events!) starting with a very humbling experience, namely Jesus Christ washing the disciples' feet, including Judas Iscariot's. Prior to the beginning of chapter 14, he explained to Simon Peter that he actuall would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed.

Although we see a chapter break, that doesn't mean there was a break in the message Jesus was giving. It was, perhaps, a time for Him to catch His breath and make a transition to a new topic. Actually, maybe He was expanding, giving a bit of new information on a theme He had mentioned before.

My gut feeling is that Jesus first was reminding the disciples that He was going to prepare a place, a permanent dwelling, for them. They had followed Jesus for three years or so, and seldom do we read that they had a permanent dwelling. Did they sleep in the open? What did they do when the weather turned bad? Certainly Jesus Himself said at least once before, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Matt. 8:20). Matthew had owned a home (Luke 5:29) and perhaps others, as well; but nothing was permanent. All it would take would be an earthquake or other natural disaster, and a house wouldn't be fit to live in anymore. Besides, when the owner died, he, she or they couldn't retain ownership of that house in heaven or hell!

There was a second thing Jesus said that the disciples may not have been able to grasp. He said, "If I go…I will return" and this, I think, was another puzzle for these men. Even as late as the day Jesus ascended to heaven, they were still thinking in terms of the kingdom (Acts 1:6-8). They stood staring, gazing, into heaven on that day, watching Jesus leave this earth. They may have stood there, still gazing, for a longer time if the two angels hadn't told them, "He's coming back just like He left."

Then the third thing Jesus said was in verse 4, "And you know the way where I am going." Did they? They had heard Jesus speak of the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, and events to come in the future (I believe Jesus preached the message of Matt. 2425 before this discussion took place) and they must have been confused. They had also heard Jesus speak about His journey to Calvary. Several times He had said, "They're going to kill Me," but they—the disciples—didn't understand all He told them. Thomas, at least, didn't understand this last sentence at all.

The Question Thomas Asked Jesus
Verse 5 contains the question Thomas asked. It's the only question from Thomas we find in Scripture. "Thomas said to Him, 'Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?'"

Take a look at this. Thomas isn't denying Jesus is giving them truth: additional insight and revelation. Old Testament saints knew, more or less, there was life beyond this life and there was a time when the Lord God would return to this earth. Daniel 2 and 7, plus other passages in the prophetic books, spoke of this. However, for the Son of God to tell these men, "You know where I am going," must have left them amazed. Thomas probably wasn't the only one who didn't fully understand the impact of what Jesus said.

He didn't stop there. Thomas was bold enough to speak up, when apparently none of the rest would, and say, "We don't get it. What do You mean?" He really made two distinctions in his statement: first, "Lord, we don't know where You are going", meaning just what he said. Jesus had said, "You (all) know where I'm going," but Thomas, speaking for the group (it seems) said, "No, we don't." Don't you admire his honesty?

Then Thomas asked one of the most important questions in Scripture, "How do we know the way?" Let's remember there are different ways mentioned in the Old Testament, especially in Proverbs: "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death" twice (Prov.14:12; 16:25); several times in Psalms there is mention of a way; and many times we and they could read of someone who "went his way" or was told, "Go thy way." No wonder Thomas was perplexed by Jesus' words.

Yet, I see a desire to know, perhaps deeply, what Jesus was speaking about. Thomas was among those who had followed Jesus for some time and knew, personally, that Jesus was genuine. He wouldn't tell a falsehood, not Jesus; He would not say or promise something that wasn't true. Thomas wanted to know; he suddenly realized, "I don't know the way You're speaking of," and went on to ask, "How can I know this way?"

How many of us, myself included, miss out on so much because we don't ask!

The Answer Jesus Gave
Jesus must have been pleased when Thomas asked that question. No doubt He was waiting to give them another chance to learn—Thomas may not have known he was giving Jesus a teachable moment when they could hear something they never forgot. Jesus said, "I am the way! I am the truth and the life! No one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). Can we get that? What did Jesus say? "Nobody comes to the Father except by Me." I won't take this moment to speak how deeds, works, donations, prayers, anything we do, never will score enough points or qualify us for heaven. Salvation is a gift from God to us, and all anyone has to do to be saved is receive that magnificent gift!

Too often we stop at verse 6, but Jesus added more. He said in verse 7, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on, you know Him and have seen Him." This was a transition point. In the past, they hadn't known Jesus or the Father, but "from now on" they (and we) would know God the Father and the Son!

You may be wondering, as did Thomas, "How do I know the way where Jesus is going?" Other questions might come to mind and do little except cause us to doubt. There is no need to doubt or remain unaware. Jesus is the one and only Way, Truth and Life, and anyone (you, me, anyone at all!) may have everlasting life if we accept the gift of salvation. If you haven't done this, why not do it now?

Share This On: