[I wrote this for our 2016 Sunrise Service. It is a first person perspective on the life of Jesus. Some artistic license was taken, but it is based upon actual events.]
They call me “Twin”. It’s funny how nicknames work. How did I get the nickname ‘Twin’? Well that would be Jesus.* He loved nicknames. The first time He saw me He called me Twin. I guess because I look like Him. I don’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jesus. But He is a rather homely looking guy (Isa. 53:2). I’m not the cutest pup in the litter, but I think I’m better looking than Him! The other disciples insisted that the resemblance was uncanny and the next thing you know, everyone is calling me Twin!
Suffice it to say the name stuck. You’ve probably heard of me as Thomas. That’s the Aramaic word for ‘twin’. You may hear me called Didymus as well, but that’s just the Greek word for ‘twin’. So it doesn’t matter whether you call me Thomas or Didymus, it’s all the same. Twin is twin no matter how you say it.
Something else you need to know about me. I’m skeptical. I like for things to be plainly stated and obvious. Let me tell you, following Jesus was a real challenge for a skeptical guy like me! You see, Jesus taught in Parables. You always had listen carefully and catch the symbolism in order to get the point. I really struggled with that. Thankfully I was not the only one. Jesus spent a lot of time with just us, His disciples, explaining the meaning of His parables. He wanted you to search for the wisdom of the parable. So on the one hand Jesus was not overly obvious in His teaching, which bugged me. But on the other hand it could not be more obvious that He was the Messiah from His miracles! He demonstrated His authority in the spiritual realm by casting out demons. He demonstrated His power over the physical world by calming the seas, turning water into wine, and multiplying food to feed thousands. He showed His power over the sinful effects of the fall by cleansing lepers, healing paralytics, and opening the eyes of the blind. Even being skeptical, I knew that this was the Messiah! But if there was any doubt left in my mind, it was dispelled when Jesus displayed His power over death.
You need to know this: life with Jesus was anything but safe. He was good. Good beyond measure. But He really got the religious leaders riled up fast. This one time they even tried to stone Him to death in Judea! Not long after that, one of Jesus’ friends fell sick. His name was Lazarus. Jesus really loved Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. We got news that Lazarus was not doing well, so Jesus wanted to go see him. We all urged Him not to go! “Remember,” I said, “they did just try to stone you recently!” Everyone chimed in. After some arguing, Jesus finally said, “Lazarus has died. Let us go to him.” Boy the mood changed right then and there. I looked around at the other disciples, shrugged my shoulders and said, “Let’s go too! We may as well die with Him!”
It had been four days since Lazarus had passed away. His tomb was already sealed shut with a rock. After speaking with Mary and Martha, Jesus went to the tomb and told them to open it. Martha was distressed about this. Tombs don’t tend to smell so good after a few days. That’s just the way things are.
Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” (John 11:40–43, ESV)
And Lazarus did. I was shocked! After I got over my stunned surprise I joined in the celebration. And what a celebration! A loved one resurrected from the dead! I still wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes!
It wasn’t too long after that that things took a quick turn for the worse. Instead of recognizing Jesus’ great miracles as proof that He was the Son of God, the Jewish leaders did the opposite! They attributed the works of Jesus to the Devil. They increased their attempts to make Jesus look bad in front of the people, but it didn’t work. With each failed attempt the leaders just got more and more enraged. I’m not prophet, but even I could see there was major trouble ahead.
During the week leading up to the Passover all this was happening. And in the midst of it, Jesus starts teaching us, but not by being very direct. He started talking about leaving us. Why would He do that? And then He says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1–4)
At this point, with everything that was going on, I got a little frustrated. And I said to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5) I mean, that doesn’t even make sense right? You can’t know the way to somewhere if you don’t know where somewhere is! Then Jesus, ever so patient Jesus, looks at me lovingly and spells it out. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV) Now that was much better! At the time I still didn’t get all Jesus meant. I didn’t understand how He was the way. But at least I knew the destination was the presence of God the Father!
Soon the events leading to the crucifixion began to happen one right after another. We celebrated the Passover with Jesus. Again with the symbols! “This bread is my body.” “This cup is the cup of the new covenant in my blood.” Oh how I wished Jesus would just come out and say what He meant. That was then. Little did I realize that Jesus was speaking of His impending death for our sins so that we could be with the Father for eternity. It seems so obvious now.
I still wonder if I was the reason Judas had to identify Jesus to the Jewish guard. I am called the Twin. And in the darkness of the garden that night, they may have had trouble telling whether it was me or Jesus. At any rate, Jesus was taken captive. We all scattered. It was awful. Many of us watched the crucifixion from afar. Hoping… praying that somehow, some way, God would deliver Jesus from this unjust treatment. But it was not to be. They killed Jesus. And my guess was they were going to come after us disciples next. I got out of sight and stayed low.
I was trying to make a plan to get out of Jerusalem as soon as I could. But I didn’t have any money. That crook Judas made off with it! I was scared. Keeping to the shadows. Trying not to draw any attention to myself. It wasn’t until Monday that I ran into some of the other disciples. Boy were they different from me! They weren’t afraid at all! They kept going on and on about Jesus being alive! Look, I’m no doctor, but even from a distance I could tell when they took Jesus down from the cross that He was dead. They stuck a spear in His chest for crying out loud! Nobody survives a Roman crucifixion! Then they agreed with me! “Jesus did die!” they said, “But God resurrected Him! He came to see us Sunday!” I told them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25, ESV)
Despite my skepticism, they insisted that it happened. So I went with them. The next week we were gathered together in a room. The door was locked. I made sure of that myself. I was still convinced that we were the next ones to hang on crosses! And then it happened. I heard a voice, “Peace be with you.” I know that voice! I turned and there He was. Jesus in the flesh! He told me, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”” (John 20:27, ESV)
My skeptical mind was blown. I believed what I saw. Jesus truly was God in the flesh. I fell to my knees, bowing before Jesus and cried out, “My Lord and my God!”
Now, you may be a skeptical person like me. And I know that you will not be able to experience seeing Jesus resurrected in the flesh like I did. But you don’t have to! The evidence is overwhelming! He was seen by so many people. He even appeared to a gathering of over 500 people. His disciples that lived in fear suddenly became bold proclaimers of the Gospel after seeing Him. Jesus fulfilled so many of the Old Testament Scriptures! I could go on and on. All those hard parables I struggled with? They make so much more sense now on this side of the resurrection. Jesus is the only way to the Father because He was the sin offering that God sent for you and me. If you by faith believe that Jesus died for your sins and that He was resurrected from the grave, then God will reconcile you to Himself! You will be joined to His resurrected Son. Your sins paid for by His death. The demands of the Law met by His righteousness. Won’t you place your faith in Him today?
Believe me, following Jesus is not safe. But He is good. He promised to never leave you nor forsake you. They call me Twin because I look like Jesus. My desire now is to act more like Jesus. To be His twin, not in physical looks, but to look like Him in character and conduct.
My name is Twin. Thomas if you like. I’ve been called Twin for so long that nobody even remembers my real name. Don’t think I’m telling you today because I really do prefer Twin to my real name. But I will tell you this much, my first name is certainly not “Doubting”.
*[Disclaimer: We do not really know why Thomas was called Twin, or if Jesus was the one who nicknamed him. There are apocryphal works that came hundreds of years later that assert it, but with no basis. I believed the possibility of getting the nickname from Jesus was strong enough to take artistic license with this story.]
David Harris is the Senior Pastor at Faith Baptist Church. A former programmer, in his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife Kim and trying his hand at the illusive craft of smoking meat.