Many people are given nicknames because of their physical appearance (“Red” from their red hair) or something they did (e.g., “Wrong Way Corrigan”) or their birth status (“Junior”). Perhaps you remember an apostle who had a good nickname and then was given an unflattering moniker. Three times John’s gospel refers to Thomas the Twin (or Didymus which is a transliteration of the Greek word for “twin”). See John 11:16; 20:24; and John 21:2.
In reality, Thomas could have been given a different nickname in John 11:16 when he suggested they go with Jesus to Bethany and die with Him. Surely his courage was noticeable to his fellow disciples and “Daring Thomas” would have been a suitable nickname.
But the nickname this apostle has been stuck with is “Doubting Thomas” – a phrase that is often applied to anyone who refuses to believe without direct personal experience. When Jesus appeared to His disciples at evening on the day of His resurrection, Thomas was not there (John 20:24). When the other disciples told Thomas of the Lord’s appearance, he doubted the event and refused to believe unless he could actually see and physically touch the nail prints in His hands and the place where the spear pierced His side. One brief statement by this apostle earned him an uncomplimentary nickname!
A week later, when Jesus again appeared to His disciples on the first day of the week, Thomas was flabbergasted when he saw Jesus. As Jesus offered Thomas physical proof of His resurrection, Thomas made a wonderful acknowledgment of His Savior when he said, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)! Thomas, perhaps more than the other disciples, recognized the oneness of the Father and Son. Yet that could not undo the mistake of the previous week.
Is it possible we have earned a nickname related to our faith? How will we be remembered? Will it be for one mistake or for our total contribution to the kingdom? We all need reminding of the children’s song – Be careful little feet where you go…etc.!