April 19, 2020

A Non-Condemning Look at Doubt

Passage: John 20:19-31
Service Type:

A Non-Condemning Look at Doubt

April 19, 2020

John 20:19-31

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’

20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

Jesus and Thomas

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’

27Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

The Purpose of This Book

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Can you guess who said this?

Where is my faith? – even deep down, right in, there is nothing but emptiness & darkness. – My God – how painful is this unknown pain. It pains without ceasing. – I have no faith. – I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart - & make me suffer untold agony. So many unanswered questions live within me – I am afraid to uncover them – because of the blasphemy.

If there be God, - please forgive me.

I’ll give you a hint.

It was the same person who said this: “I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, 'How many good things have you done in your life?' rather he will ask, 'How much love did you put into what you did?”

Mother Teresa

Such a contrast. One of such doubt and one of great faith. Almost abandon.

And then there’s Thomas. We call him Doubting Thomas. Oh, he’s the one the church loves to make fun of, chastise on the Sunday after Easter, the bad guy. He puts Jesus to the test. He’s the one who wants to see the wounds before he would go on to believe.

But when we think about it, isn’t Thomas you and isn’t Thomas me?

We have vilified Thomas for being human.

I think he is so criticized because he insisted on firsthand faith. If we were honest would we not be too.

Each disciple could have said something new about what they experienced when Jesus came by earlier that day. But Thomas wanted to see it for himself.  Faith was too important to him. He wanted to see Jesus personally, and nothing less would do.

Jesus offered them

Proof – he shows them his hands and feet and the nail prints, resurrection happened!

Peace – he says to them peace I give you,

Purpose – go out and share that I am risen, and that God has the power to bring new life into your dead-end life, and to respond to evil with good.

Power – He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.

I can’t blame Thomas for wanting that too.

And 8 days later Jesus comes back and Jesus welcomes Thomas to touch his wounds.

And from it look at what happens, Thomas makes the most profound profession of faith he says, My Lord and My God!

This can only come from experiencing the risen Christ.

I find it amazing that Jesus doesn’t condemn Thomas in any way. He probably came back after seeing the disciples, he probably came back because Thomas wasn’t there. Jesus didn’t say, you snooze you lose. No, instead he came back to see Thomas. To assure Thomas that his resurrection was even for him.

So, what of us today… can we expect Jesus to walk through our closed doors and show himself?

Yes… but you can’t get it from hearsay or from someone else’s experience. It comes from our own insistence that we experience Jesus ourselves.

If we want to find him, we know where to go.

We find him inside our brokenness, through faith. In quiet. In humility.

We know where to find Jesus. Not locked in presidential palaces but in poverty-stricken streets where the poor reside, and immigrants seek a better life for their children.

We find him in hospital wards as the sick and dying are tended to by men and women who place themselves at risk because that is their calling. I wish the doctors and nurses and techs and respiratory therapists would be granted spiritual eyes to see Jesus loving them and following them and overshadowing them and ministering to them with peace and strength and wisdom. Oh, Jesus is so near, and Jesus is so there.

We find him in our family members who struggle and in our neighbor, who never says hi.

Jesus is waiting for you to want to see him for yourself.

If COVID 19 has done anything it has caused us to think less of ourselves and more for others.

  • The poor who are most at risk
  • The hungry who were hungry before this hi
  • The working poor who now are jobless and will be hitting up the food banks
  • Your neighbor who just lost a loved one
  • The selfless servants
  • Those with compromised immune systems, the sick, those in therapy, organ transplants, diabetics…

We are surrounded by people to minister to and in ministering to them we see the risen Jesus!!!

And isn’t that one of Jesus’ goals, to get us out of ourselves and focus on others.

Billy Graham said there are no great grandchildren in heaven… only children. You can’t experience God riding on the coat tails of others’ faith – like Thomas, you have to experience it personally.

You want to see Jesus? You know where to find him.