April 12, 2015: First Sunday After Easter

Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, today as we bask in the afterglow of Your Easter victory, remind us that it has banished all doubt, all uncertainty, and all those nasty feelings that so plagued Thomas. Today we’re free to live at total peace with You and our eternal futures, all because You live! Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR GLORIOUS RESURRECTED LORD!

TEXT: John 20: 19-31

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

Everyone can relate to Thomas. I know I do, and it’s not just because we bear the same name. Our relationship with him is based on total honesty. Who of us has never had doubts as to the validity of Christ’s resurrection? Who of us has never wavered in their faith? Who of us has never cut ourselves off from fellow beloved Christians and been overwhelmed by resulting fears that crush us as we attempt to carry them all alone? This little gem of the Bible is terribly personal. And that’s why we need to examine it carefully each and every year at this time.

Thomas was also called: Didymus in the Bible. Didymus means: Twin. Apparently Thomas had a twin brother or sister. No mention is made of that twin in Scripture, but considering Thomas’ personality, we can be sure he shared the news of Christ with them. Thomas isn’t talked about a lot in the Gospels. We do run across him earlier in John’s Gospel a couple of times. But, this lesson reveals the character of the man.

I

Missouri is called the: Show Me State. We’d say that Thomas was a “show me” kind of guy. That is, he was practical, down-to-earth, and he was into total honesty. Thomas was a realist. And his real world had come crashing down upon his head a few days before. He had seen Christ arrested, tried, convicted, crucified, and laid in a grave. Gone were the great miracles. Gone was the Man Who had calmed his soul. Gone was Thomas’ faith in Christ as the Messiah, Who would make heaven his reality. To Thomas, dead meant dead. Yes, he had seen Christ raise Lazarus from the dead a week or so before all this. But now the miracle-worker was cut off from the living. Dead people don’t raise themselves in Thomas’ way of thinking.

That first Easter eve when Christ appeared to the disciples in the Upper Room and announced His resurrection, Thomas was the only one who was absent. Was he a “loner” by nature? Was he more distraught by it all than the others? Perhaps. In any case, he withdrew into his own little world, alone, much like you do when you feel overwhelmed. Maybe he went and commiserated with his twin? We don’t know. What we do know is that later that week he catches up with the other disciples and they inform him: “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas is a tough nut. He’s stubborn and hard-headed. Unless he sees Christ and touches His very wounds, “I will not believe.” Have you every harbored similar thoughts? Are you a “show me” Christian?

II

Do you accept medical certainty? Do you always believe the doctor? Tell that to the woman who recently woke up from a coma and found she was a new mom! The doctors had told the family to “pull the plug” because there was no way she would live. They didn’t. And now she does. Yes, God works miracles even today.

Do you accept wealth certainty? When I was a boy you could buy a loaf of bread for 10 cents and it was a really big loaf. Now it’s around 3 dollars. Modern fiat or command currency is only as good as the promise behind it. The promise is the “full faith and credit of the United States.” But considering the astronomical debt of our country, do you really believe that promise? Is it unshakeable? Well, they thought so in Rome, too, until the empire fell apart.

Remember the passage: “We walk by faith and not by sight.”? That’s a truism. It doesn’t just describe Christianity, it describes all of life. So, where are you going to place your trust? In man stuff, or in God stuff?

Last week we heard how Salome was one of the women at the tomb who heard the angel announce Christ’s resurrection. Salome was the mother of James and John. Also, Mary, or Miriam, Christ’s aunt heard the same thing. These women told the disciples, they told their sons in one case, but the men, including their own sons, didn’t believe it. Two of them distrusted their own mother! I guess they were all from the “show me” state. But then Christ appears and takes their doubt away.

Now, a week later, Jesus does the same for Thomas. Apparently he gotten over his initial funk and he’s back with them in that upper room. Again, Jesus suddenly appears in their midst, singles out Thomas, recites his own works back to him and says: “Stop doubting and believe!” Thomas is overwhelmed. All he can do is say with a choked voice: “My Lord and my God!” Yes, man-based promises are fluid and uncertain, but God-based promises never fail. Christ was and is the eternal Son of God. Right here, in front of one of His greatest skeptics He proved it.

III

But what about me? How has He proved it to me? I’ve never seen Him so how do I know He’s risen and I’m blessed like Thomas? That’s the age-old question that plagues every believer. Were all these witnesses delusional? Do they strike you as delusional? Was their testimony a lie, concocted to drum up a movement in which they would be the top dogs? If that’s so, then why did none of them ever renounce their supposed lie before they died for it? Was it a lie to make money and achieve power by hood-winking people? Last I checked, none of the disciples ever got rich and none of them amassed an army. No, all of them were common, ordinary people with no agenda. They were just like you. And just like you they had their lives touched by the very hand of God’s Son and were given new, forgiven, faith-filled hearts via the resurrection. And that truth changed them inside out.

Christ tells the disciples and Thomas something truly amazing in His closing words that night. He says: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” I know all the disciples were blest and ours isn’t to parse just how much in relationship to us today. Nonetheless, Jesus calls you and me, who have not seen Him with our eyes, He calls us blessed! Personally, I believe that’s a far greater source of comfort than what the disciples’ experienced. So, don’t take it for granted. Take that promise to the bank of heaven where it is guaranteed and fully backed by the blood of God’s Son! He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Amen