There is nothing as relaxing for me than being by the water. Whether it is a pool or a beach, I simply love the water. I find it relaxing. It is a place I go when I need to recharge or a place I will escape to when I need some time to think. So I understand the need to get away. I understand the need for peace and solitude. I am not blaming Thomas for his choices, I understand them.
Reading through the 20th chapter of John again today, I was struck by Thomas’ actions. I am not blaming Thomas for his choices, I understand them. Jesus was dead. He had been taken from them in the most violent and permanent way. For Thomas, the cross was final. He needed time to process. We don’t know where Thomas went, we just know that he wasn’t there when Jesus appeared to the disciples the first time.
I like to think that Thomas went to the Sea of Galilee. After all, much of the ministry of Jesus happened around there. Perhaps he sat at the water’s edge and recounted when Jesus fed the 5,000. Perhaps he remembered Jesus calming the storm or walking on the water. The memories would have given him comfort. I get it, I really do. Yet, I think it was a mistake.
Thomas separated himself from the others. In a time of sorrow and grief he had removed himself from the community. He was not there to be comforted and to bring comfort to the others. He decided to go it alone. We understand that. In this country, we are raised learning to appreciate the go it alone tough rugged individual. We often downplay the power of community. It is a mistake, the same mistake Thomas made.
Jesus appeared to the disciples the evening Thomas was missing. Jesus offered his peace to the disciples. He offered them Shalom, abundance of life. Thomas missed it that night, he missed the promises. Perhaps Thomas tried to heal himself that night. Yet, here is what we know. He came back to the disciples. He could not find what he needed by himself.
He needed the others.
He needed Jesus.
We need others.
We need Jesus.