Why wasn’t Thomas in the upper room when Jesus appeared?
Fabrice Hadjadj in ‘The Resurrection’ gives some profound insights into Thomas. He writes ‘ So Thomas missed the call of the first apparition in the Upper Room. He spoiled everything. He did not receive the Holy Spirit. And what is worse he does not want to believe what his colleagues tell him, even though their number far exceeds what the law requires for valid testimony. That would be enough to rank him among the unluckiest and most stubborn. But he tries for the gold medal for arrogance to boot. Indeed, he sets such an extreme condition. ‘I won’t believe unless I put my finger into his wounds.’
Thomas is a hothead. Thomas before this event in the upper room in quoted twice in scripture. Both times are about death. ‘The first is when Christ decides to travel to Jerusalem to see his deceased friend Lazarus. Thomas says ‘Let us go, that we may die with him. (Jn 11:16)’ His big question during the last supper. ‘Lord’ he asks ‘we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?’ To which Jesus replies: ‘I am the Way, and the truth and the Life. (Jn 14 5-6)’
‘And so when the ten Galileans barricade themselves behind the doors. He is strolling around the outside, his neck in plain view, his chest an easy target. He is not afraid, not he: the crucifixion is the last word of the Word. He begs the centurions, the scribes, all the doctors of the law that he runs into’ Thomas is begging them to kill him. While all the other apostles are afraid of dying for Christ. Peter denied our Lord to escape death. Thomas is in plain sight saying ‘Kill Me I am with Him.’ Thomas wants to die with Christ. For Thomas Death is the end. Thomas is not all that excited and doesn’t even want Jesus to rise from the dead.
When the apostles tell him ‘They have seen the Lord. That takes the cake. He believes in a cross with no Glory.
Thomas gets his wish. Jesus says ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands, and put your hand, and place it in my side, do not be faithless, but believing.’ Thomas wanted Jesus to not be an escape route. Thomas wanted Jesus to fully answer the question of pain and suffering in the world. Thomas would have asked this question to Jesus ‘Jesus if you are so living why do innocent children die?’ When Thomas put his hands in the wounds of Jesus he saw that Jesus truly is the answer to question of ‘Why do innocent children die.’ But more importantly when Thomas put his finger into the wounds of Jesus. He realizes that Jesus turns transform pain and death into Glory. For Thomas that was a message worth celebrating.
‘The one who tends to the most radical doubt suddenly makes a profession of faith more exalted than any other than you can find in the Gospels. He recognizes the Almighty in the Crucified….He is suddenly more confident than the others, so much so that he was the one who went the farthest to Persia, perhaps China, in any case to southern India.’
‘Thomas was not a man of half measures’