Because of his initial reluctance to believe that Jesus had risen, Thomas has given his name to all who find it difficult to believe, or who experience moments of doubt.
Yet Thomas was one of the original 12 whom Jesus sent out to proclaim the Gospel with very little to sustain them.
When there were threats to Jesus’ life, it was Thomas who encouraged the others; “Let us also go that we may die with Him”.
So, we need to look again at the circumstances surrounding his declaration of faith.
Perhaps we need to ask, “Why should Thomas have believed?”
We know very little about the disciples; we do know that there were conflicts among them, for example which one of them would be the most important. We know they did not all think alike or always agree.
So, when they told Thomas that they had seen the risen Jesus, perhaps it is understandable that he doubted their version of what they thought they saw.
Of course, he didn’t know that they had already seen his wounds.
But the appearance of the risen Jesus confirmed that the disciples had not been joking.
They had been absolutely genuine, and now Jesus was actually there amongst them again.
Having greeted them all, “Peace be with you”, it was to Thomas that he turns.
“Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side”
He is confronted by Jesus in person; a very different person, yet essentially the same, who addresses him directly.
“Do not doubt but believe”.
Thomas must make up his mind, he has to reach his decision.
The evidence of the resurrection is right there in front of him.
“My Lord and my God”.
Thomas declares his faith in the risen Christ, acknowledging Christ’s claim on his life from now on, and committing the whole of his life to proclaiming the gospel of the dying and rising of Jesus.
Nevertheless, Thomas’s negative reputation lives on.
His name stands for doubt, rather than faith. This means that we do Thomas quite a disservice.
He has left an abiding and positive legacy to the Church, to all who would seek to follow the risen Christ. In many ways he stands for all of us, represents all of us.
Many of us have followed his pattern. We experience the same struggle to believe, to come to terms with the Christian faith, to make a commitment to the risen Lord.
There is ample evidence in the bible of the many who have heard God’s call and felt that is can’t mean them.
How could God be calling them?
For ourselves, we may feel, or have felt, that there must be a mistake.
Like Thomas, we have to weigh the evidence, reach our own conclusion, make our own decision.
Only then can we make our own personal declaration of faith, and all that it implies for our belief, and our commitment to service in the name of the risen Lord.
Like Thomas, we must be able to say, at some stage, and in our own way,
“My Lord and my God”