From the Pastor's Desk
Don't Doubt, Believe!
people, kids especially, seem to love the fanciful tales of Winnie the Pooh and
his friends. We're past that stage in
life now, but there was a time when the boys were younger when we spent time
watching shows and movies about Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit and Eeyore.
would also venture to guess that probably the least loved of all of those
characters, or maybe it would be more accurate to say not the most popular
character, is Eeyore. That's largely because
of his rather sour personality. The word
that comes to mind that best describes this animated, stuffed donkey is
gloomy. He is not a fan of very much at
all, except eating thistles. He's always
losing his tail and his house is always getting knocked down.
are a few catchphrases that he is particularly known for. "It's not much of a tail, but I'm sort
of attached to it." "Thanks
for noticin' me." "If it is a
good morning, which I doubt." As
I'm reading these, if you're like me, you can no doubt hear his grumpy voice
saying each thing. This morning as we
continue working our way through the gospel of John, we're going to encounter a
character who kind of, sort of, might remind us a bit of Eeyore.
the course of the past few weeks, we have looked at the core details of what is
called the Passion of Christ. It all
started with His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and the subsequent trials
that ensued after that. Finally, He was
nailed to a Roman cross and crucified in the most horrific manner possible.
were a lot of reasons why He was killed that day, depending on which
perspective you look at it from. From
the Roman viewpoint, He was crucified for being a traitor to the state, even
though Pilate didn't find any guilt in Him at all. From the Jewish perspective, He was killed
for claiming to be God and blasphemy in their minds deserved death. From our perspective, He died to provide us
with forgiveness of sins. From God's
perspective, Jesus died as part of His plan to provide redemption, forgiveness
and salvation to mankind.
died on a Friday, and then three days later, on Sunday morning, His tomb was
miraculously empty. It wasn't because He
only swooned on the cross and was revived in the tomb; it wasn't because
someone stole His body; it wasn't because His followers were hallucinating when
they saw Him afterwards and it wasn't because they went to the wrong tomb. God raised Him from the dead to prove He is
God and to provide us with victory over sin, death and the grave.
Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus alive. The Lord appeared to her and told her to go
and tell the disciples that He would soon be ascending to be with the
Father. Then He appeared to the
disciples as they gathered in a locked room, apparently hiding from the Jewish
authorities fearful for their own lives.
not all of the disciples were there the first time that Jesus appeared to
them. Judas had already hanged himself
and Thomas was not with the group at that time either. We're given no explanation in Scripture for
why he wasn't there. But as we're going
to see this morning, he soon has his encounter with the risen Lord. Let's now read John 20:24-31.
the synoptic gospels, Thomas only appears as a name in the list of those whom
Jesus chose to follow Him. In John's
gospel, we are given a few more details concerning this man. In what little information we're given, we
see where Thomas is an eternal pessimist.
He seems to have a knack for finding the dark cloud in every silver
lining. He's a little gloomy, just like
John 11 we find the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. He intentionally waited until after his
friend had died before going to where he was.
In verse 16 of that chapter, we find Thomas' reaction to the news that
they're going back. It's kind of a
negative reaction, but at least he was willing to go.
in chapter 14 of John's gospel, we get another glimpse into the character of
this man. Jesus is preparing the
disciples for His departure and for their continued ministry after He is
gone. He mentions that they know the way
to where He was going. Thomas is the one
who responds. John 14:5. To that, Jesus gives us one of the great
truths of the Christian faith. (v.
6). We see Thomas in these two instances
as a loyal but somewhat pessimistic disciple.
we begin this passage, we see where Thomas' friends and colleagues have told
him and explained to him that they had seen the Lord. But Thomas is unconvinced. He demands to see some concrete proof and solid
evidence that Jesus was actually alive.
Thomas knew He had died on a Roman cross, now he needed proof that He
had been raised from the dead.
for him, Thomas has come down in history with the nickname "Doubting
Thomas." That nickname is not
exactly fair. If he had been present
when the risen Christ first appeared to the disciples, he would have believed
then just like they did. If any of the
other disciples had been absent at that time, they probably would have doubted,
too. In fact, the women had come to tell
the disciples what they saw and the men didn't believe their testimony. So Thomas isn't any more of a doubter than any
of the other disciples were or would have been.
wanted a personal experience with the Lord, the same kind that the other
disciples had already experienced. That
is not a bad thing for Thomas to desire.
However, it wasn't good for him to lay down conditions for the Lord to
first appeared to the disciples as they huddled together on the evening of the
first Easter Sunday. We're not given any
information about what they did or how they spent their time over the course of
the following week. Sometime during that
week, is when they were telling Thomas about seeing Jesus and his request for
some proof. Otherwise, we don't know if
they stayed in the room or if they were coming and going. I'm guessing that if they were afraid for
their lives, they probably tended to stay close to that room hiding from the
was going on over the course of that week, the scene in John shifts to the
following Sunday. This time all of the
disciples are there together, including Thomas.
They were again behind not only closed doors, but behind locked
doors. They were still afraid of the
Jewish authorities, fearful that they would be arrested and executed for being
followers of Christ.
like He did on the evening of the first Easter, Jesus suddenly appears to
them. He doesn't come through the door;
He doesn't climb in the window; He is unexpectedly among them. His glorified body just appeared, seemingly
out of nowhere.
as He did the first time He unexpectedly appeared to the group of disciples
hiding behind locked doors, Jesus greets them by saying "peace to
you." After engaging the group as a
whole, Jesus then turns His attention to Thomas. Jesus is all-knowing. He knew what Thomas had said and He knew what
Thomas was thinking and even feeling.
has that unfortunate moniker of "Doubting" attached to him for all of
history. But notice that Jesus doesn't
rebuke him for doubting; He rebukes him for his unbelief. "Don't be an unbeliever, but a
had demanded physical proof before he believed that Jesus was alive. Then Jesus shows up and offers him that exact
proof. It doesn't tell us in Scripture
whether or not Thomas actually took Jesus up on His offer to touch the marks of
the wounds in His hands and His side.
The impression we get from reading the text is that the sight itself
proved sufficient. Thomas appears to be
so overcome with awe and reverence that he immediately uttered his confession.
simply says, "My Lord and my God."
Thomas' affirmation is one of the most dramatic and powerful statements
in all of Scripture about Jesus' deity. Jesus
isn't only Thomas' Lord and Thomas' God.
But these words were a personal confession of faith.
says that Thomas believed because he saw, but blessed are those who believe
without seeing. The word blessed does
not simply mean happy. It's deeper than
those folks who believe in Jesus being in a happy mood. That word actually pronounces the person who
believes as accepted by God. Jesus was
soon going to ascend to be with the Father permanently. All those who believe after that will do so
without the benefit of having seen the resurrected Lord.
other words, blessed are those who cannot share Thomas' experience of sight,
but who in part because they read of Thomas' experience, come to share Thomas'
faith. For us, faith comes not by sight,
but from what is heard and what is heard comes through the Word of God. Rom. 10:17.
30 basically is saying this: Those who
have not seen the risen Christ and yet have believed are blessed; therefore
this book has been composed so that you may believe. There are a lot more signs Jesus did that
could have been reported. On the other
hand, these have been committed to writing so that we may believe.
lives by faith, whether we recognize that or admit it or not. The difference and what really matters is the
object of that faith. Christians put
their faith in God and in His Word.
Unsaved people put their faith in themselves.
is not necessary for us to see Jesus in order to be saved. It was a blessing for those who did see
Jesus, but seeing isn't salvation. The
miracles and signs that Jesus performed prove His deity; they are
important. But sinners are not saved by
believing in miracles; we are saved by believing in Jesus Christ.
Jews in Jerusalem believed in Christ's miracles. Great crowds followed Him for awhile because
of the miracles they saw. Even the
religious leaders who plotted His death believed that He did miraculous
things. All of that belief and all of
that faith did not save them. The masses
in Jerusalem didn't believe He was the Messiah.
The crowds eventually all deserted Him. The religious leaders certainly weren't
is important. Salvation comes through
our belief and trust in the work of Christ that He did on the cross and through
the empty grave. We need to believe that
Jesus is the Messiah who grants eternal life to all who believe in Him for
it. Sinners prayers don't save; baptism
doesn't save; repenting without believing doesn't save; confessing Christ is
important but by itself isn't a salvation experience; commitment of our life
also doesn't result in a person becoming a born again believer.
sinners are dead. They need the life
that only Jesus Christ can provide. That
life comes through the Great I Am: Jesus
Christ and no one or nothing else.
Eternal life is not endless time; even lost people are going to live
forever in hell. Eternal life means the
very life of God experienced today. It
is quality of life not quantity of time.
It is the spiritual experience of heaven on earth today. We possess eternal life through Christ as we
live our lives here on the earth.
was calling Thomas to a deeper life; a deeper relationship with Him as His
Savior and Lord. That's what God is
calling us to: a deeper life and a
deeper relationship with Him. If we're
going to have that deeper life, we're going to need to believe in who He
is: the Messiah; Master, Savior, Lord,
we come to that point in our lives, we can then begin to go deeper. Go deeper in your reading of the Word. Matt. 7:24.
It's not just reading God's Word.
We need to go further and deeper than just hearing the words or reading
them. We need to understand; we need to
pay attention and heed what it is God is saying to us. Beyond that, we also need to act on what He
says; we need to obey that Word we are paying attention to.
deeper in your prayer life. Romans
12:12. Be persistent in prayer. Would you consider yourself to be a
persistent pray-er? Do you keep on
keeping on? Or do you tend to ask once
or twice and then give up? Don't
stop. As it says in Matthew 7 we need to
keep asking; we need to keep searching; we need to keep knocking.
is so much more than offering up short sentences to God about someone who is
sick. I hope that your personal prayer
life goes deeper than our corporate prayer life tends to go. Spend time regularly, daily, praising God for
who He is; thanking Him for all that He has done for you; confessing known sins
and also praying for all other prayer requests that you have to lift up to
deeper in your fellowship with others. Acts
2:42. One of the things that the early
church was devoted to and committed to was spending time together. Fellowship is more than simply hanging out
together and sharing a meal. It is being
intimately involved in each other's lives.
It is spending quality and quantity time together making a difference in
each other's lives for the advancement of the kingdom.
much time to you spend with other believers?
Is it just time that you spend when you're here at church? Or is it more than that? It really needs to be beyond the walls of
this building. It's good for us to be
here, obviously. But we should be spending
our quality and quantity time with other born again children of God. We should be investing in each other and
living together, helping one another in whatever way we can.
deeper in your service, ministry and witnessing. Luke 22:27.
This is Jesus speaking to the disciples after they had a dispute about
which one of them was the greatest. His
point was simple: it's not about being
great; it's about being a servant. We
need to die to self and put others first.
It's not what's in it for us, it's what's in it for others and how we
can be a part of that.
easy to become pretty content and settled in the routine you are in. Try to break out of that a little bit. Instead of just doing the same old thing all
the time, try something new. Do
something different. Break out of your
comfort zone. Witness to someone you
don't know. Do a service project or
ministry that involves work that you're not comfortable doing. Get up earlier to read and prayer; get up
earlier to be to church on time, or maybe even early. Go out of your way to show love to someone
who needs it.
you have already experienced this life-changing event, thank God for the
precious gift of eternal life. If not,
now is the time to respond to God's working in your life as our singers and
musicians come now and as we stand and sing.
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