A short story written 5/14/16 for the WriteOn prompt, “stump.”
I tore blindly out of the house and down the small slope behind it. The frolicking waves of a nearby lake seemed to mock me, as the Master’s words resonated in my ear, “You will be Fishers of Men.”
Fishers of men! I still did not understand what He meant, but His words reminded me of the life I had led before following Jesus’ call. Dear God, how my life had changed since then!
I flung myself onto the ground and clutched a freshly-cut stump. I ran my fingers across the rough grain, tears trickling down my face. A tree such as this had been made into a cross, and that cross had tortured and killed my dearest friend and teacher. Perhaps I had never been as close to Him as John was, nor as boldly protective as Peter, but I knew I held a place in His loving heart. He didn’t call me by my Greek name, Didymus, but the Aramaic version, Thomas.
During the years I followed Jesus of Nazareth, I saw many miracles performed. Dead men were raised to life, the blind given sight, and demons cast from souls. My rational mind sought to explain these events … how could an ordinary man accomplish so much? But I could not explain. I only knew there was something unusual about that Man, and a strange longing in my heart said to follow. His very presence was heavenly, fulfilling desires I did not even know existed. Only when He left did I realize what an aching void was in my soul.
Now He was dead, and that void would continue the rest of my life. I knew nothing could fill it, ever. John tried to comfort me, repeating continuously his story of the empty tomb, and the women who had seen the angel. He even claimed that the Master had appeared to them since that time. But I could not believe, I would not set myself up for such disappointment. John had just launched into another retelling, and so I’d left the house. At least by the lake it was only myself and my misery.
I sighed as I looked back. It had been eight days since the others claimed to see Jesus, yet He had not returned. He called us His beloved children, and if that were true, where would He go without us? It was all a hoax, it had to be. I turned to go back inside, resolving to tell John so.
Once inside, I closed and locked the door behind me. The house was as dark and stifling as a catacomb; the windows were covered, and no candles were lit. We never knew when the soldiers would appear and attempt to kill us too, as they did many of the Master’s other followers.
A hand clutched my arm, and I heard Peter’s voice. “Didymus, where have you been?”
I pulled my arm away. “Outside. Don’t worry, no one saw me. But I couldn’t stay in this tomb any longer.”
John heard me from across the room. “The Master could not stay in His tomb, either! He rose again, and appeared among us! I have seen the empty grave, and I know it is true …”
“Hush, John!” I demanded. “I don’t want to hear the story again. Yes, the tomb was empty. Yes, someone appeared here, while I happened to be away. But how could it be the Master? We watched Him die. John, you saw the nails go through His hands and feet. Peter! You have always been the logical one, how could you believe this?”
“I cannot.” Peter answered quietly. “But God has given me faith.”
I turned away, running my hand over my head. “You all are children, believing what you choose! But I must have proof. I will not believe until I have touched His hands, and seen the scars where the soldiers beat Him.”
There was a long silence. Then, in the middle of the room, a voice said “Shalom.”
I looked towards the speaker. It looked so much like … but it couldn’t be, the doors had been locked!
But my doubt vanished and my heart believed when Jesus looked into my eyes. “Thomas, Thomas. See the wounds on my hand? And look,” he pulled aside one corner of his robe, “See the scars on my side. Do not lose your faith, but believe.”
I sank to my knees. The walls of my hardened heart dissolved, and again that awful emptiness was filled. I clutched the hem of his garment and held it to my cheek. “My Lord and my God!”
I had thought that Jesus, the carpenter’s son, was only a priest, a prophet, or a king. Now I understood that He was all three. There was such love in His touch, as He laid His hand on my head. “Thomas, you believe because you have seen. Blessed are they who have not seen, yet have believed.”
* * *
Years have passed since The Master returned to His Father in heaven, but I have never doubted His existence again. For I have seen the nail-scarred hands, touched the bruised and shattered side. But to my children in the faith, who believe when they have not seen, their reward shall be twofold.