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
The Message Jesus Gave to the Disciples
We'll need to review
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" (
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 (
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
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.
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 (
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?