The Apostle Thomas – Part 2 – Real Men Ask for Directions

by Stephen Rodgers

Part 2 of 4: John 14:1-6

This passage gives us another peak into the perceptions and priorities of Thomas.  Christ is preparing the disciples for His impending death, and for the most part, they’re just not getting the message.  And while it’s very easy for those of us with the benefit of historical context to malign and impugn them for that, it’s probably wiser to simply observe.
In this case, like the others, Thomas is sitting, listening to Jesus.  And he remains silent throughout the entire event…until Jesus announces that He’s leaving and that He presumably expects the disciples to follow Him later, since they “know the way.”
Again, cue Thomas: Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Now most of us guys don’t ask for directions.  We can thank our stupid pride for that.  We don’t need directions, we can find it on our own.  Even if someone directly asks us if we know how to get to someplace that we’ve never been before, we’ll nod confidently and then check Mapquest later.  Or if we’re really desperate, we’ll fabricate some partial assumption of knowledge in order to marginalize our ignorance (“Oh yeah…it’s near the thing right?”)
Not Thomas.  Oh no.
Thomas freaks out.  “Wait!  Where are you going?  How will we get there?  We don’t know the way!  How will we find you again?”  Again, over and over Thomas shows where his priorities lie: in staying as close to Jesus as possible.  He’s not the brightest or the happiest of the disciples, but he’s managed to boil it all down to a working system: just stay close to Christ, and everything will be alright.
At this point, the core element of Thomas life has been threatened.  Jesus might be leaving.  In his mind, Jesus might be leaving him!  And so, he jolts into action like any of us do when a particularly sensitive nerve has been touched.  Should he play it cool?  There’s no time.  What about his pride?  Forget pride!  The central pillar of his life is under assault, and there is no reaction strong enough to be termed an overreaction.  This is not the time for dispassionate reflection; this is the time to completely freak out!  You can almost see the other disciples recoiling as Thomas goes straight to DEFCON 1 with no warning whatsoever.
It bears consideration that Thomas does this in front of his friends.  None of the other disciples asked Jesus what he meant.  None of the others raised an eyebrow at His remarks regarding His impending departure.  Possibly they simply didn’t want to be the first to admit a lack of understanding.  Perhaps Thomas simply never gave anyone a chance because he reacted so quickly.  We don’t know.  But we do know that Thomas wasn’t about to let the opinions of his friends get in the way of his understanding exactly what Jesus meant, or ensuring that regardless of where Christ went, he was right behind Him.  And if that meant humbling himself, risking his ego, and asking for help and direction, then that was a small price to pay to make sure that Jesus didn’t get away from him.
For all his pessimism, Thomas had his priorities straight.

This passage gives us another peak into the perceptions and priorities of Thomas.  Christ is preparing the disciples for His impending death, and for the most part, they’re just not getting the message.  And while it’s very easy for those of us with the benefit of historical context to malign and impugn them for that, it’s probably wiser to simply observe.

In this case, like the others, Thomas is sitting, listening to Jesus.  And he remains silent throughout the entire event…until Jesus announces that He’s leaving and that He presumably expects the disciples to follow Him later, since they “know the way.”

Again, cue Thomas: Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Now most of us guys don’t ask for directions.  We can thank our stupid pride for that.  We don’t need directions, we can find it on our own.  Even if someone directly asks us if we know how to get to someplace that we’ve never been before, we’ll nod confidently and then check Mapquest later.  Or if we’re really desperate, we’ll fabricate some partial assumption of knowledge in order to marginalize our ignorance (“Oh yeah…it’s near the thing right?”)

Not Thomas.  Oh no.

Thomas freaks out.  “Wait!  Where are you going?  How will we get there?  We don’t know the way!  How will we find you again?”  Again, over and over Thomas shows where his priorities lie: in staying as close to Jesus as possible.  He’s not the brightest or the happiest of the disciples, but he’s managed to boil it all down to a working system: just stay close to Christ, and everything will be alright.

At this point, the core element of Thomas life has been threatened.  Jesus might be leaving.  In his mind, Jesus might be leaving him!  And so, he jolts into action like any of us do when a particularly sensitive nerve has been touched.  Should he play it cool?  There’s no time.  What about his pride?  Forget pride!  The central pillar of his life is under assault, and there is no reaction strong enough to be termed an overreaction.  This is not the time for dispassionate reflection; this is the time to completely freak out!  You can almost see the other disciples recoiling as Thomas goes straight to DEFCON 1 with no warning whatsoever.

It bears consideration that Thomas does this in front of his friends.  None of the other disciples asked Jesus what he meant.  None of the others raised an eyebrow at His remarks regarding His impending departure.  Possibly they simply didn’t want to be the first to admit a lack of understanding.  Perhaps Thomas simply never gave anyone a chance because he reacted so quickly.  We don’t know.  But we do know that Thomas wasn’t about to let the opinions of his friends get in the way of his understanding exactly what Jesus meant, or ensuring that regardless of where Christ went, he was right behind Him.  And if that meant humbling himself, risking his ego, and asking for help and direction, then that was a small price to pay to make sure that Jesus didn’t get away from him.

For all his pessimism, Thomas had his priorities straight.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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