Years ago, I overheard my mom in the kitchen telling my sister, Aimee, how Thomas was her favorite disciple of Jesus.
I was a little surprised by her choice and thought I’d be clever.
“Mom, I don’t want to be a doubting Thomas, but I’m pretty sure your favorite disciple was the fella with the underwhelming moniker.” I yelled into the kitchen sarcastically.
My mom came out of the kitchen and gave me a fiery look. One I saw too many times in my youth; a look that releases the awe-inspiring fear of God, “Jason, it’s just horrible we call him that! Think about the scripture we have because Thomas was bold enough to ask when the others weren’t?”
And just like that, my whole thought about Thomas changed. Thanks, mom! I am so grateful for your wisdom!
Jesus, attempting to prepare His disciples for the coming dark days of His death, tells them, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” (1)
And John leans over to Peter and whispers. “Hey Pete?”
“What?” Peter responds in a whisper yell. Peter was a horrible whisperer.
“Do you know the way to the place Jesus is going?” John asks with sincerity.
Peter furrows his brow, “Of course!”
John raises an eyebrow, “So you have no idea then.”
Peter waves John off brusquely. John is a little concerned but then he remembers and smiles, “No worries, Thomas will ask Him.”
And Thomas did. And we are all infinitely glad he did.
“Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (2)
“We don’t know…” It was nice Thomas included the other disciples, but because of his question we all have an answer, and it’s one of our all-time favorites!
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’” (2)
Thomas’ “we don’t know” makes room for Jesus to highlight the tension of mystery and revelation, “You will know” and “From now on, you do know...” Jesus’ answer is the beautiful invitation to live in the tension of not knowing with a promise of knowing.
Like always, Jesus is speaking in the infinite language of sovereign love…
John and Peter looked at each other after Jesus was finished. They still didn’t understand, but that wasn’t unusual. Jesus was always saying stuff that was not only confusing, but also often seriously controversial.
The fact is, most of the time, most of the people listening to Jesus had little to no idea what He was talking about.
One time Jesus told His followers that the only way they could experience eternal life was if they ate His flesh and drank His blood. A lot of people stopped following Jesus that day. When Jesus asked the twelve disciples if they would leave Him also, Peter famously said, “Lord, to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.” (3)
Interpretation, “I don’t know… but God is good” and that’s enough.
Peter, John, Thomas and many others have revealed that to truly follow Jesus, we must be willing to live in the tension of not knowing and the invitation to know; to “get wisdom. Though it cost all (we) have, get understanding.”
We must embrace mystery if we are to gain revelation.
Jesus is the way to where we are going; He is the lens by which to discover wisdom, the key by which to unlock understanding.
I don’t call Thomas “doubting” anymore. He was a man of faith willing to live in the tension of the question so he might discover the whole story, the greater revelation. Thomas gave everything up to follow Jesus and after He ascended to heaven, Thomas is believed to have shared the gospel of sovereign love, planting churches in Syria, Babylon (Iraq), Persia (Iran) and even into India before dying by a spear, martyred for his profound faith in the way the truth and the life.
**This is an excerpt from Jason’s new book on the sovereignty of love entitled, God Is (Not) In Control.
Jason Clark is an author, speaker, and director of A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.