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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

Thomas! (John 11:16)
Date Posted: October 21, 2020

In a biblical context, what do you think of when you hear the name Thomas? You shouldn't have any problem knowing the Thomas to which we are referring since there is only one in the entirety of the Bible. If you are like most of us, you might refer to this disciple as Doubting Thomas since he refused to believe that Jesus had raised from the dead without firsthand corporeal evidence.

If you wish to know anything about Thomas other than the fact that he was one of the twelve apostles, you will have to read these facts from the book of John. The other three gospel accounts merely refer to him as one of the twelve and provide no other details about him. They don't even note the fact that Thomas was called Didymus, meaning twin or twain. That fact is mentioned only by John, and that in today's focus passage from the 11th chapter of his gospel account.

Consider the following as you consider the man Thomas. The earthly ministry of Jesus was fast drawing to a close. The opposition in and around Jerusalem had escalated to the point that it was dangerous for Jesus to even enter the region. The Jews had sought on at least two occasions to stone Him (see John 8.58-59 and John 10.31). Due to a serious illness which was threatening Lazarus' life, the family sent for Jesus to come to them in Bethany (a small village that was directly adjacent to Jerusalem). Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. Two days after receiving their request, He said to His disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” (John 11.7). When the disciples heard His statement, they begged Him not to go there due to the imminent danger into which He would be placing Himself at the hand of the Jews (see John 11.8).

Now, with this backdrop, enter Thomas. We let John tell the story: “Then Jesus said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.' Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “'Let us also go, that we may die with Him.'” (John 11.14-16). The disciples, all but one, besought Jesus not to return to Judea, but one on them spoke to the others and encouraged them to go along with Him, and if it became necessary, to die with Him there. That disciple was none other than Thomas, the one who later would earn the moniker, Doubting Thomas.

In Thomas' suggestion, there was a degree of courage and devotion that was extraordinarily rare. Peter would later boast of such a devotion to Jesus (see Luke 22.21-22), but when the pressure was put on him, Peter denied that he even knew the man (see Mark 14.66-72). It seems that Thomas was willing to die for the Master, even when all others were unwilling to take the risk that such a journey into Judea might pose.

When we think of Thomas, we typically think of Doubting Thomas; we do not generally think of brave and devoted Thomas. For some, this may be a matter of lack of knowledge. However, for some of us who have read and studied the Bible for years, there is another reason for remembering Thomas only for what we might class as negative traits of character which he displayed. It is an unfortunate tendency of mankind to remember the bad and forget the good in others. When it comes to an evaluation of ourselves, the formula is just reversed; we forget the bad and remember only the good. This is why newspapers and the evening news contain mostly stories of negative impact – theft, accidents, storms, fires, and other natural and moral disasters. As believers, we would do better to have a positive bent to our remembrances. Doubting Thomas? Why not brave and devoted Thomas?


1. By what other name was Thomas known?

2. Other than the fact that he was one of the twelve, where would one have to go in the Bible to find such information?

3. Why did the disciples not want Jesus to go back to Judea when they found out that Lazarus was sick?

4. Other than Doubting Thomas, how else might we remember the man?

"Bible verse and quote" from Jan Couns

Bible and Quote - November 22-26

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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