In the past week, I was listening to the address by Ravi Zacharias to the Passion 2017 conference, and I can appreciate how when compared to the lucidity with Ravi speaks, my brain seems like day old banana pudding.
Ravi is a powerful apologist for Christianity and comes from the Kerala state of India, although he is now an American citizen.
Ravi spoke briefly about how another famous Christian made landfall in Kerala and brought the gospel to the people of India. No less than Thomas – the famous doubting Thomas – went to India as a missionary an AD 52, just a few years after Christ ascended and sent out his church. He was literally obedient to the great commission and wound up in a place far from his comfort zone.
Thomas, also called Didymus (the twin), seems to have been a Galilean but travelled to Syria, Persia (modern Iran) and ended up in India.
When Jesus speaks to his disciples about going to wake Lazarus from sleep (meaning death), Thomas is recorded as saying:
16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11, NIV)
Some scholars see this as evidence of Thomas’ ability to doubt or see the most unfortunate scenario, since Jesus said he was going to raise Lazarus and Thomas spoke of going with Jesus to die.
Again when Jesus is speaking of heaven, Thomas is the difficult one, not fully understanding Jesus, confessing his ignorance:
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14, NIV).
Most famously, Thomas doesn’t believe the rest of the disciples when they proclaim that He is risen:
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 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!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed;blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20, NIV).
In none of the occasions that Scripture records him is Thomas the quick-witted one, or faith-filled giant that others were.
In fact, we may feel that we are much like Thomas, missing the mark, the punch-line, the point, the epiphany. Although in the end Thomas did have an epiphany that compelled him to travel to India, far from home, and there to die a martyrs death.
As history records, he was pierced with a lance in AD 72.
What a strange bit of history that a Galilean should so believe that he would go to India because he loved the Indian people. And how fortunate for the Indian people that they had an opportunity to hear the good news.
More remarkable than an Englishman in New York:
A Galilean in Myalapore, India (St Thomas)
A Scot in Dutch South Africa (Andrew Murray)
This is the way that God works.