Summary: The road to committed faith often starts with honest doubts.
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them” (Luke 24:1-4).
“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said’” (Matthew 28:5-6a).
What Does the Resurrection Mean to Us?
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile [worthless (NASB); useless (NLT); mere delusion (AMP)]; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
Three Kinds of Believers
There are different kinds of faith: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19).
• CASUAL – If you have a casual faith, you don’t follow Christ (you are a practical atheist; you live as if there is no God).
Prior to this year’s Easter season, the Center for Missional Research wanted to find out how prevalent the belief in the physical resurrection of Christ really is among the U.S. general public. The survey question read: “The Bible and the Christian faith claim that on the first Easter Sunday, the physical body of Jesus came back to life after being dead since His crucifixion on the previous Friday. Do you believe Jesus literally rose from the dead?” It may comes as a surprise that over 75 percent of those surveyed answered, “Yes.” But do we see 75 percent of Americans living for Jesus? No.
• CONVENIENT – If you have a convenient faith, you follow Christ for what you can get out of it (no service, no giving).
“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66). The reason: It was no longer convenient to follow Jesus.
• COMMITTED – If you have a committed faith, you follow Christ no matter what.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
The Road to Committed Faith
John 20:19-20, 24-31
1. Committed faith often starts with honest DOUBTS.
“But [Thomas] 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 it’” (John 20:25b).
Thomas is often called “Doubting Thomas.” But the other disciples also doubted before Jesus appeared to them. (Read John 20:3-9.) John “saw and believed” (v. 8). John didn’t believe until he saw the empty tomb.
Thomas is mentioned two other times in John’s Gospel. It seems that Thomas had a negative, pessimistic, gloomy personality. But it’s also clear that he was extremely loyal and devoted to Christ.
• John 11:16 – “Them Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go; that we may die with him.’” (See 10:39; 11:8.)
• John 14:5 – “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’” (See vv. 1-4.)
I think that Thomas wanted to believe in the resurrection but was afraid of being disappointed. So he demanded absolute proof that Jesus had risen.
2. Honest doubts can lead to spiritual DISCOVERIES.
“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe’” (John 20:26-27).
Do you have doubts? “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
3. Spiritual discoveries can lead to a DEVOTION that will never be shaken.
“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:28).
Someone has said that “the most outrageous doubter of the resurrection of Jesus utters the greatest confession of the Lord who rose from the dead.”
This is the high point of John’s Gospel. The Gospel began with the statement, “The Word was God” (1:1). Now Thomas declares Him to be God. The book was written to lead others to this belief. “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:30-31).