Thomas — the first investigative reporter?

April 2, 2021


The tail end of the Easter story involving Doubting Thomas always made me feel guilty because I agreed with him that questions should be asked. Did that make me a “doubter” too?

During the past year, we’ve learned we can’t always trust what we see, hear and read. Rioting, protests, rallies, storms, shootings, elections and of course, the COVID-19 pandemic have often left us with more questions than answers. 

Even after I brought my baby home from the hospital, I was overwhelmed with the sudden change and commented, “I can’t believe he’s mine.” My husband replied, “I was there, believe me, he’s yours.” Some things are so monumentally overwhelming, they just don’t make sense, even when the proof is right in front of us.

As an inside member of the close-knit Disciples, Thomas knew Jesus well. For some unreported reason, he wasn’t with the rest of the group when Jesus appeared to them after he rose from the dead. Thomas didn’t get to see or hear what the others experienced. When the Disciples finally caught up with Thomas, you can imagine they were breathless with over-the-top excitement and couldn’t wait to describe what had happened. 

“You’re never going to believe who we ran into.” “Have we got a story for thou!”  “I’m still shaking!” “Dude! He was like, right in front of me!” “You’d better sit down.”

I can almost imagine Thomas’ eyes narrowing and darting around the room at the faces of his animated friends. Was this some kind of sick joke or prank? What was wrong with these guys? Perhaps it was their passion, or maybe it was because he knew these men so well, but something finally convinced him they truly believed what they were saying. It was then, Thomas said he needed proof.  This may make him the first investigative reporter in history, seeking out fake news.

It’s important to remember, he was “Doubting” Thomas, not “Unbelieving” Thomas. Already strong in his beliefs, this new twist just had to be seen. That’s understandable. 

From that point in the story, I always thought Thomas was in big trouble for doubting, but later that week, Jesus showed up and spoke with Thomas and allowed him to touch his wounded side and see his scarred hands. He wasn’t angry at all but was there to give Thomas the answers he needed. The questioning Disciple wasn’t in trouble. He was being equipped to go and spread the good news of the resurrection. Jesus turned Thomas into an excellent eyewitness. 

Jesus said Thomas was blessed for believing, but also mentioned that we – those of us today in 2021, would be especially blessed for believing without seeing with our own eyes. He knew it would be harder for us. Our trying modern times of living in a world full of rumors, conspiracy theories and misinformation causes us to doubt everything. Thomas is a great example of being faithful while searching for truth.

Maybe Doubting Thomas should have been called, “Inquisitive Thomas.” But no matter what you think of him, Thomas’ belief and journey of confirming the truth is an important part of the resurrection story that ends with the beautiful promise that belief will bring us “life through his name.” 

This story first appeared in newspapers

  • Thank-you for your piece, “When in doubt – Thomas was the first investigative reporter.” The piece ran in our local newspaper, The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY. It is always a joy to see Christian articles in a secular newspaper! I would like to clarify, though, what Thomas said to his comrades.
    John 20:25: “But he [Thomas] 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.” And when Jesus appeared to him, the Lord said, “Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:27c)
    So Thomas did have a moment when doubts clouded his belief.

    • Judyann, (love your name!), Thanks for letting me know the story ran in your paper. I’m never sure where they send it. You weren’t the only one to mention my “take” or “interpretation” of that exact point. I guess I always saw it differently. Obviously, Thomas was a believer because he followed Christ and witnessed miracles, so I thought the disbelief was only for the resurrection – not the overall savior part. You make a very good point, but whether he believed all of the story, part of the story or none of the story, in the end, he had hard proof it was all very true. Thanks so much for the comment and Happy belated Easter!

      • You are very welcome! I, too, am an inspirational columnist, though mostly on a local level, and it’s always a blessing to know that people actually do take time to read about spiritual matters!

        Happy belated Easter to you! He is risen indeed!

  • I looked for your Easter story this morning in the Birmingham paper and I couldn’t find it. I enjoy your holiday columns and I’m glad to remember this web site. Why didn’t you put it in the paper? Happy Easter to you.

    • Hi Nella, thanks for your note and I’m glad you found the blog. You aren’t the first to comment on this. The Birmingham News, like The Huntsville Times and Mobile Press-Register have to juggle my stories for space. I worked very hard to provide an Easter story, but maybe the public really wanted a story about calling your spouse names on one of the Holiest days of the year – and my story was even shorter so it would have saved space. Frustrated? Why yes, thank you. You made me feel better by missing me in print. Happy Easter.

  • Thank you Leslie Anne, very uplifting in this time of turmoil. Have a joyful and blessed Easter…

  • Karyn Tunks says:

    Poor Thomas. He is best known for the label slapped on him as a “Doubter.” Then again, it’s this label that has kept him relevant and relatable two centuries later. (Dare we hope “Karen” will be remembered in 2000 years?) This story is a reminder that God is big enough and loves us enough to handle our doubts. He is even gracious enough to forgive deniers when we finally let down our guard and come to Him seeking forgiveness. Great job showing a 21st century relevance to the greatest story ever told, doubts and all.

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