John 14:5

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”-John 14:5

So far in the upper room, Jesus, Peter, John, and Judas have all been named. Familiarity with the gospels gives us clues to the personalities of several of the disciples. I think Peter was impulsive. He was the type of guy who would blurt out answers without raising his hand. John was a lover. His gospel and letters reveal a man overwhelmed by Jesus’s love, but that had not always been the case. He and his brother James had been nicknamed Boanerges—“son of thunder” (see Mk. 3:17). Judas was the betrayer—calculating, judgmental, and greedy.

In 14:5, Thomas entered the story. If I asked you for one word to describe Thomas, I suspect most people would respond, “doubter” because in John 20:25, Thomas would not believe Jesus had risen from the dead unless he actually saw and touched his physical wounds. However, in this passage Thomas was a scoffer. Jesus had been explaining that he was going away, but that they would know the way to him. As I picture Thomas in this scene, I imagine him standing with arms crossed and rolling his eyes, becoming more agitated as Jesus continued talking. Finally, he had enough. Irritation bled into his words: “We don’t know the way. How can we know the way?” I don’t think he was asking for clarification, he was voicing his exasperation.

Impulsive Peter, passionate John, scheming Judas, and scoffing Thomas—Jesus loved them all. He did not call disciples with the right theological credentials or right personality. The twelve proved that Jesus can, and does, use everyone.

Jesus, I am grateful that your circle of friends included all kinds of people—the intemperate, the passionate, the impulsive, the angry, and the self-righteous. You are able to see beneath the surface of our masks to the inherent worth in every one of your image bearers, including me. Help me to remember that everyone can be used for your kingdom. Amen.

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