April 3, 2016: 1st Sunday after Easter

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

TEXT: John 20: 19-31

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

I’ve heard that some of you are twins. Congratulations! So am I! My twin brother’s name is: Thomas, and my name is: Titus. You’ve heard about Thomas. In fact, this very Sunday, the one after Easter, always talks about him. People call him: doubting Thomas because of what happened during that fateful week. Today, I’m here to give you the real scoop, the background story behind it all.

Thomas and I were born in Antioch. That’s in modern day Syria up the coast from Israel. St. Paul was our most famous alumni, but that’s only because people don’t know a lot about my brother. Growing up, we were always very close—many twins are. People say that twins often have an unspoken link between each other. We did. And it continued pretty well until that fateful day when this new Rabbi called: Jesus, picked Thomas to be one of his disciples. Thomas went with him. I thought it odd and felt slighted. My dear brother was gone from me for weeks and months at a time. I never saw him because Jesus and his disciples were busy traipsing around Judea. Thomas said this man was the true Messiah and worth all the time he was spending with him. I begged to differ. After all, we had Messianic figures arise again and again throughout our region. They all claimed they had a corner on the God market. They all had followers. But, every one of them was either disgraced or killed and their followers scattered or beaten or put to death, as well. The last thing I wanted was for that to happen to my dear brother, my twin, which in Greek is: Didymus.

Invariably, Thomas would look me up whenever he got back to the Jerusalem area. After all, that’s where I, Titus, lived. He would tell me where they had been, what he had seen, and the amazing stories of miracles by this name named: Jesus. Thomas really tried to convert me to become a follower, too. But I was too wise, too worldly, too cynical to be taken in by it all. When I actually went to synagogue, I said prayers for Thomas’ soul each Saturday. I prayed he would come to his senses. This went on for about 3 very long years.

Your Christian Bible doesn’t have very many references to my twin brother. After all, he was kind of a quiet guy. Some people think he was stupid because he never craved the limelight like that fellow Peter. But that’s not true! Thomas was highly intelligent and observed everything. He thought—a lot—before he spoke. During Thomas’ week of despondency—more on that in a bit—he told me stories upon stories of Christ and his work. For example, he told me how a few weeks before the crucifixion when Jesus decided to go to Bethany to visit Lazarus’ grave, Thomas was worried about his Rabbi’s safety and told the whole group of disciples: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” That shows you how sharp Thomas really was. He knew the enemies were out for scalps. It also shows you the depth of his commitment to Jesus. Thomas also related the last day he had with Jesus and talked about the Lord’s Supper a lot that week, too. He told me how when Jesus was speaking about going away from them very soon, he spoke up and said: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, and how can we know the way?” Yes, Thomas was very close to his Savior.

Well, after Thomas saw Jesus crucified and buried in the grave, he was despondent. He left the twelve and came to visit me and stay. I couldn’t console him. His hopes, his dreams, his future were all gone. He didn’t even want to leave the house. A couple of days after Easter, the disciples—John and Peter, came looking for him. They told him that the Lord had risen from the dead just as he said he would. They told him to come back and stay with the others at John’s house. Well, I was totally opposed to such silliness and told them to leave. Then Thomas and I argued. Finally, he left with them. I was angry, upset, and thought that all this talk of God was ridiculous.

Later on, Thomas told me what happened next. When he met with the other followers and they told him about their visit with Christ, Thomas heeded my warnings and said to them: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Apparently, my brother was still my brother after all! It’s hard to shake cynicism.

But a few days later, it was Thomas’ cynicism that was shaken and ultimately put to death by Jesus Himself! For a week after Easter, they were all together in the upper room at John’s house and Jesus again appeared to them all. He singled out Thomas and recited his very words of unbelief back at him. Thomas was floored and overjoyed and could not say anything except: “My Lord and my God!” He gave his great confession. All this because Jesus lived. Who else could He be but the true, promised Messiah, God in human flesh who gave His life to save human beings?

Later that night, Thomas again appeared at my door. He told me all these things. His face was almost on fire. His speech was sure and certain. Fervent love flowed from his heart. He had met God’s Son. He knew with absolute certainty that God had saved his soul with His death for him and His resurrection from his grave. Thomas even told me those other words of Christ which speared my own cynical heart: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Was my dear twin brother lying to me? I knew in my heart that he wasn’t. I knew he meant every word spoken to me about Jesus. I knew he wanted me to follow Jesus as well. Because if this really is true—there is nothing more to life than knowing the Lord! Everything else I’d done with my life seems less than insignificant. So, tomorrow I’ll go with him and visit the others. I’ll listen instead of argue. I’ll put my pride in my pocket instead of letting my protective instincts flare. I’ll weigh it all and maybe, just maybe, Christ will appear again when I’m there! After seeing my dear twin brother do a 180 in attitude and temperament upon seeing Christ, I don’t have anything to lose and literally everything to gain, don’t I? Amen