Thomas gets beat up by history.
He is known by everyone as “doubting Thomas.” No one remembers that he was the disciple who said, “we’ll probably all die, but let’s follow Jesus anyway.” Ho one remembers that the rest of the disciples didn’t believe the women on Easter Sunday.
I’ve never noticed, until now, that though the rest of the disciples had seen Jesus, their behavior wasn’t much different than Thomas a week after the resurrection. In fact, on the night that Jesus showed Thomas his hands and side, Thomas expressed more faith than the rest.
John is telling us about the appearances of Jesus. He writes,
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” [John 20:19]
Why were the doors locked? Because they were afraid. And well they should be. This was the church in its infancy. And that is a risky time for new beings.
Jesus appears. Jesus talks with them. Jesus disappears. They talk to Thomas. Thomas expresses his infamous doubt.
And, John says,
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” [John 20:26]
The doors were still locked. Thomas could be excused. He wasn’t sure that Jesus was alive. But the rest of them had seen Jesus. They knew that everything he had said was true. They had seen that he could die and then live.
But they were still afraid. Because he still had to say, “Peace.” And the doors were still locked.
And we still lock our doors in fear.