Having instanced the changed
position which the resurrection of the Lord Jesus effected in the
cases of Mary Magdalene and the two disciples on the Emmaus Road,
we proceed to consider the case of Thomas.
If among the group of
associates of Jesus there was one to whom the resurrection was a
greater problem, challenge, and demand for a new ground, that one
was Thomas. As in each case being considered we are not embarking
upon a biography, but only concentrating upon this difference
that resurrection demands and makes; so, whatever we say of
Thomas is with this object in view. We ask that this shall be
kept in view, because it would be so easy to be taken up and
occupied with the natural side. Whether it be Thomas, or any
other, we only give a description in order to reach the general
truth that, whatever the human category, a conquest is necessary.
Not only a conquest, but a change in the person and of the ground
upon which the person lives.
Thomas belongs to a category of
human constitution which is easily recognizable. He is always
near at hand. We will give a general delineation, and we are sure
that he will be recognized.
This is the type which is
marked by what is called (perhaps mis-named) commonsense - not so
'common' as to be superfluous. These are the people who are never
gushing, never enthusiastic, and never flattering. They are slow
to pay compliments, and would give the impression of being
ungrateful for any kindness, and they seem to take such for
granted or as a matter of course. They are heavy-going; more of
the steam-roller or bulldozer than of the racing-car type.
They are deliberate, exact, and
particular, and meticulous to a fault. They will not tolerate
carelessness. If a good job is to be done, these are the
people to do it, even if they take long over it. Public opinion
and adverse criticism do not trouble them a great deal. Decision,
fixity of mind, and stubbornness make them difficult to move.
Frugality, economy, carefulness hold all their transactions in
stern control. They are masters of detail, exact, pernickety, and
free from anything approaching the slipshod. Perfection is their
standard. They are conscientious to the point of burdensomeness.
Caution clogs their wheels and makes for slow going. They do not
know what it means to give way, and once they take a decision or
a judgment they are unrelenting.
Much is missed by them, even
opportunities for larger and greater valuable usefulness because
they cannot adjust. Their ships can be locked to harbour because
they miss the tide.
Too often people of this
category are immovably convinced that a thing must be right
because they themselves believe it to be so. It is next to
impossible to them to believe that they may possibly be wrong.
They believe so strongly in themselves that it is hard for them
to believe others. Habit, routine, and rut are their prison
chains. Self-concentration is their curse. They suffer from an
exaggeration of individualism, therefore they separate themselves
and tend to be independent. Narrow outlook and short views spoil
the real values which they have in other directions. They frown
much and sigh heavily, and may often carry about with them an
impression of something akin to despair.
From what we can put together
of the references to Thomas in the Gospels, it is not difficult
to see how he fits into this category.
But having said all that, and
we admit that it is not a very happy portrait, for Thomas
- while having many attractive features - is not by nature a
happy person, we must hasten to say some redeeming things about
him. Firstly: Thomas was one of the 'Twelve'. Thomas was to be
representative in part of the Church. The Lord saw, and was in
need of the values of this type when they are redeemed from their
complications and handicaps; from the limitations, frustrations,
and self-assurance. Yes, release is the particular and
crying need here.
So, in a peculiar way,
resurrection was - and is - a clash and a crisis with Thomas and
his class. Unless released he will miss much himself and rob the
Church of much. This nearly happened with him because of his
"Unless... I will not". The crisis is that of
enlargement, and resurrection means that supremely.
The Lord called Thomas, and He
calls us with full knowledge of our particular and peculiar
The Lord has a particular place
and sphere, and function for each type.
The Lord calls - and only calls
- with the knowledge of what He can do with the material
in His hand, if He is allowed to do it. There is a vital place
for an emancipated Thomas. Do not let us dismiss him with the
cheap epithet - 'Doubting Thomas'. The Lord did not do that.
Some things are necessary on
our part, and the thing to be mentioned first is particularly
applicable to Thomas.
We must not take ourselves, as
we are, so seriously as to measure and fix everything and
everybody by ourselves. We must seek ever and always the grace of
We must remember that the last
word to Thomas as the natural Thomas, was one of comparative
rather than absolute blessedness, and who wants that?
(John 20:29). There are levels and degrees of blessedness
according to how much we are saved from ourselves, however
devout! There is a higher level than that of having brought
things to our own criterion of literal, technical,
physical, evidence and proof. The spiritual is higher than the
rational, i.e., human reason.
The resurrection has to be a
soul-splitting, human-nature-rending experience; a crisis,
not only of will, but of disposition. Every devout Christian will
say with Thomas, "My Lord, and my God"; but with Thomas
it was a capitulation, an evacuation of himself, a broken-hearted
surrender of his own predisposition.
He was still Thomas, but
different, so different!