Scripture: John 20:19-29
Everyone calls Thomas “Doubting Thomas.” But he had only doubted for a week. He had a faithful life, and yet he gets nailed for his behavior in a week. He started off doubting then he believed.
Thomas was the only disciple that is chosen for doubting. But they all doubted! On Easter, they were all doubted on Mary’s story! It took seeing Jesus, his wounds and all, for them to be convinced!
But Thomas was the only one who gets nailed for doubting. He got nailed for doubting because he was not in the right place at the right time. He got nailed for doubting because he missed the first appearance of Jesus. But when Jesus came around again, he was there! He saw Jesus, touched the wounds, and he believed.
Doubt is OK. If we didn’t doubt we would believe everything. As I have grown older I have learned to doubt everything I hear, especially all the junks on the Internet! If I get an email saying that such happened, I check it out because so often they are all just lies. They make up stories. They are really good manipulating people.
Doubt is OK! In fact, it is necessary for survival! It helps to protect us from believing things that are not true. It helps to keep us from trusting people we don’t know who could be dangerous.
But doubt has a dark side. While it can keep us from believing things that are false, it can also keep us from believing things, which is true. Doubt can keep people from believe in the power and the grace of God. Doubt can keep people from trusting in God’s saving grace! Doubt kept Thomas from believing in the resurrection. And doubt still keeps people today from believing in the resurrection.
The disciples had an unfair advantage. They had the physical body presence of Christ to prove to them the resurrection. But Thomas said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the marks and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
It is rather a good idea when confronted with a story as amazing as a man rising from the dead. But he did see Jesus! He had the opportunity to see the living breathing body of Christ! He had the opportunity to prove that Christ is risen, and he is risen, indeed!
All the other disciples had that opportunity too! The Bible tells us that for 40 days Jesus appeared to them. Again, and again, they saw Jesus. It wasn’t his ghost! Jesus was living and breathing and could be touched. Jesus had conversation with them! Jesus ate with them. Jesus fixed them breakfast on at least one occasion!
We don’t have that advantage! All we have is the word of God, the Bible and other believers. Thomas had those to begin with and he still doubted. No wonder that so many people still doubting the living presence of Jesus.
How do we convince others to believe? It was easy for the disciples to convince Thomas. They just waited until Jesus showed up again. I can just imagine Peter pointing to Jesus and saying, “See Thomas, I told ya!”
Jesus is aware of our dilemma, and he said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” We may not have the living breathing body of Jesus to point to, but there is still evidence. One of the evidences of the true resurrection is the living presence of Christ in us. The power of the Holy Spirit is in us!
We can’t see or hear or touch the risen Christ but we can experience his life in our lives. We can feel his living presence in our lives. Jesus said, “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name - I am there to bless them.” Just as Jesus was with his disciples in the upper room on that day so long ago, so Jesus is with us today by the presence of His Holy Spirit in this building!
We also have the evidence of what he has done in the world. Transformed lives of people show the presence of the Risen Christ. If it were not true, could the early church have had the power to withstand and even flourish in the midst of the Roman oppression?
Without the living presence of Christ, could Mother Theresa have taken on the burden of serving the least of the least in India? Without the living presence of Christ, could Rosa Park, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bishop Desmond Tutu, and countless others have stood up to oppression and injustice without violence?
We have not seen with our own eyes! But we have seen the resurrection Christ with our hearts. We have seen the resurrection Christ in the changes of our lives and the lives of others and the world around us. We have seen the resurrection Christ transforms lives. We have seen the resurrection Christ transform the world and changes futures. Shalom and Amen.