as told by Pumpkin
My name's Pumpkin, and I'm going to tell you about another of Jesus' friends.
His name was Thomas, and he was one of the 12 people who were chosen by Jesus to be especially close to him.
I think he must have been one of those who stayed in the background, because we don't hear too much about him. Some of us are like that, you know, Happy not to be noticed; just one of the herd.
Like the others, Thomas was loyal to Jesus; he didn't think of leaving him.
He was called to follow Jesus and kept following, even when things got scary - like that terrible storm on the lake, or when Jesus turned all the tables over and threw everyone out of the temple, or when the religious leaders argued with Jesus and asked him questions to try to trap him.
Come to think of it, some of the good things must have been quite scary too - like seeing a person possessed by demons suddenly made well, or being told that he was going to go out with the other disciples and do the same thing, or hearing their friend Jesus saying that he was going to be beaten and killed. But Thomas kept following.
He was certainly loyal to Jesus, and he must have seen some amazing things, and heard some extraordinary, yet maybe also refreshing, teachings about God, faith and life.
On one occasion, another of Jesus' friends was ill. This man's sisters sent a message to Jesus to come and heal him, but, strangely, Jesus stayed where he was. Personally, I think that was quite sensible as the Jewish leaders had wanted to kill him. Besides, Jesus had been known to heal people when he wasn't in the same place as them; so, no problem.
But two days later, Jesus decided it was time to go back to Judea, where this family lived. He said that the man - whose name was Lazarus - had in fact died, but that was a good thing, because his disciples would believe in Jesus. All very puzzling.
Thomas then spoke up and said, "let's go back with Jesus so that we may die with him!"
I might be completely wrong, but that sounded a little sarcastic to me, the way that he said it. But maybe Thomas actually did want to keep following Jesus, even if it meant being killed.
What do you think?
Anyway, they set off, and soon arrived back at the house where Lazarus' sisters were, understandably, very upset.
But Jesus did do something extraordinary; he went to Lazarus' tomb, asked people to roll the stone away and told Lazarus to come out.
And he did! This man had been dead for 4 days, and was wrapped in, what probably looked like bandages, which would prevent anyone from walking - yet he just walked out of the tomb.
All the disciples, and Thomas, saw this amazing thing.
But a little while later, Jesus himself died and was placed in a tomb. He was also wrapped in bandages - they were grave clothes actually - and a stone was put across the front of the tomb.
It was a sad day for his disciples, who ran away and hid in case the same happened to them.
Three days after that, some women, amazingly, told the disciples that they had seen Jesus, alive again. And later that evening they discovered this for themselves when Jesus came to them, behind their locked doors. I can imagine that they were probably amazed, delighted and scared all at the same time.
For some reason, Thomas wasn't with them at that point.
Maybe he was so upset that Jesus had died that he had gone away by himself; not caring if anyone caught, and killed him?
Maybe he had gone to look for Mary to find out what was going on?
But he got back to the upstairs room where they were staying to find 10 very excited disciples. It appeared that what Mary had told them was true. Jesus was alive, had come to see the disciples, and Thomas had missed him.
I think it might have been disappointment that caused Thomas to say, "I don't believe you". I think he might have just wanted to see, and touch, his friend again, for himself. If Jesus wanted to appear to his disciples, surely that included him as well?
Jesus was very kind and gracious and did what Thomas wanted - though he made him wait for a whole week. And when Thomas saw Jesus again, he said, "my Lord and my God."
So that's Thomas; one of Jesus' closest friends, a loyal follower, someone who saw, and did, great things, but who maybe sometimes found it hard to believe or understand - and who doesn't from time to time?
I say, "that's Thomas", but legend has it that, when the disciples were being persecuted, he escaped and went to India. Where he told many people about what he had seen and heard while he was following Jesus.
Isn't it good to know that God does not give up on us even if we doubt him sometimes?