Pastor John Kerr
Theme: “An Evening with Those Who Knew Jesus: Thomas”
Date: Maundy Thursday, April 9, 2020 Text: John 11:16
Pastor John: I’m sorry that all of my theme monologues were not presented in person at the Lenten services. This final monologue features a disciple of Jesus who was a doubter. He is remembered as Doubting Thomas. I’ll let him tell his story.
Hello, members of Faith and friends of Faith Lutheran Church!
I wish to recall for you the first time I saw the rabbi Jesus of Nazareth. My friend, Andrew, invited me to come with him and hear this teacher speak in an open field near the town Capernaum.
He spoke with authority. His voice was powerful and could project to his outdoor audience so that all could hear him well. His teachings were personal. I could identify with what he said and the stories he told. After hearing him this first time, I found that I wanted to return and hear him again and again.
After several weeks, he came up to me, noticed I had been in the crowd a few times and invited me to follow him and be a disciple of his. It would mean leaving home, family, friends, job and go and be with him and the other men and women who traveled with him from place to place. I didn’t say no.
The next three years that I lived with him and the other followers, for the most part, were wonderful years of learning and observing. He was so patient, kind, loving and sympathetic with us and with the crowds that were around him.
I saw sick people become well, and cripples, blind and lepers made whole. I recall on one occasion when Jesus was preaching to a huge crowd and the people were tired and getting hungry. Some of the disciples went into town to buy some food, but I didn’t know where they’d find enough food for such a crowd. A boy from the crowd was moved to share his lunch of bread and fish to help feed some in the crowd. Then I saw countless others, inspired by the unselfishness of this boy, reach in their baskets and bring out food to share with those who brought no food. A child certainly led them that day!
And speaking of children, Jesus had a way with them. He was never too busy to play with them, sing with them and tell them stories. The children loved him, and he enjoyed them as well.
Those years with Jesus were rich in fellowship and inspiration and were years spent with a remarkable man. I remember a time when Jesus announced what would be his final trip to Judea. The other disciples tried to talk Jesus out of going. They feared he’d be stoned to death, which was the Jewish method of execution, and by association with Jesus, they were afraid that would happen to them as well. I spoke up and said, “Let’s go with him even if it means we may die with him.”
We arrived in Jerusalem to a welcoming parade, and then it all ended abruptly. Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, taken away, tried and crucified. It seemed like a nightmare. I couldn’t believe it happened.
From a nearby hillside, I watched that terrible procession to the hill of skulls called Golgotha. I saw
three crosses erected. Oh, how it hurt to watch. I was crushed. I wanted to do something, but I was
powerless and frightened. All I could do was sit frozen to the ground and watch three men die a cruel, shameful death. The other disciples had scattered and were in hiding. Only John stayed behind and was with Jesus and his mother Mary at the cross. I stayed on the hillside in shock and later that afternoon saw Nicodemus and Joseph remove Jesus’ body from the cross to prevent birds from picking flesh off his body after he died. I heard they laid him in a tomb. I couldn’t believe the life of this godly man ended like this.
Some days later I was told by James this incredible news floating around that Jesus was alive! I couldn’t believe it. It was impossible. Such things don’t happen. James said that Jesus appeared to them while they were meeting in a closed room. I said, “That’s unbelievable! I won’t believe you unless I see the nail holes in his hands and the wound in his side.” I wanted proof, evidence that this was true. That he was alive.
For a week I tried to figure this out, think it through logically. There was no way! I wished it were true, but I couldn’t believe it happened. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to work this thing out myself. I avoided the other disciples. It was a long, lonely week of doubting and disbelieving.
Then Philip invited me to meet with the group. He insisted I come. Unwillingly, I agreed to go with him. I must admit it was good to be with my friends again. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed them. Matthew read a Psalm. Peter said a prayer. A strange feeling flooded the room, and he was there. Jesus was present among us. I wanted to hide and crawl into a hole. He didn’t criticize us. There was no anger. He had compassion and understanding for my struggle with doubt. Finally, when I could get words out of my mouth, I said to him, “My Lord, and my God.”
Please know that I needed time and had to see and experience all of this before I believed. I was not a traitor as some have pictured me. I followed him, I believed in him, I served him and I obeyed him. But I doubted my best friends. I wanted to be sure. I resisted. I wasn’t satisfied.
The women were right—Jesus lives; he’s alive. Because he lives we too shall live. Because he lives, there is hope and courage and comfort to all who want it. Because he lives, death and the grave have been conquered.
As one who gave my life for this man, my only desire was to share this good news with anybody who wanted to hear it. Eventually, I traveled outside the Roman Empire teaching and establishing churches as far away as India. A cathedral-basilica is named in my honor in Chennai, India, and the name Thomas is still a popular name among St. Thomas Christians who trace their origins back to my missionary work there.
I doubted, I had to see for myself, I had to be convinced; but as Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” You, my friends, are among those who are truly blessed!