Summary: A narrative sermon, in which Thomas tells of his personal encounter with the risen Christ.
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?
Good morning. My name is Thomas. You may call me Didymus, all my friends do. Where I come from Didymus means “twin”
I am very pleased to be with you as you celebrate Easter. Already, it has been quite a celebration. And from what I’ve heard, you all have had quite a week of anticipation and celebration. Your good Friday service must have been powerful, as you remembered the amazing death of Jesus. And last Sunday sounds like it was quite a day. Apparently there was wonderful music, and singing from the little ones, even dancing. I sure wish I could have been with you last Sunday.
I wish I was with you last Sunday. Hmmm. There’s a phrase that brings back some memories. There was a time in my life when that statement – “I wish I was with you last Sunday”- was extremely significant. And it has to do with Easter as well – the first Easter, I guess you’d say. Let me tell you about it.
I don’t know if I can adequately convey to you what it was like when Jesus died. The twelve of us who were with him, literally following him around for 3 years, had seen and experienced some incredible things. Jesus wasn’t like anybody else we had ever met, or followed. To hear him teach, talk about the kingdom of God was indeed like hearing from God himself. And the miracles – blind people, deaf people, lame, sick, all healed. And those in bondage set free. Multiplying food, calming storms, walking on water – I could go on and on. It was all so glorious.
Slowly, over those three years, the 12 of us came to realize, to believe that Jesus was in fact Messiah – the promised, sent one from God. He was undoubtedly the one who would restore Israel. What all our ancestors had longed for, hoped for, was taking place right before our eyes. We were witnessing the decisive moment in the history of Israel and of the world!
But suddenly it went all wrong. That last weekend when we all went to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration, we honestly thought, “This is it! Jesus is going to establish the kingdom!” But before we knew it, Jesus was arrested, set up and betrayed by, by one of us – Judas. They came for him, with swords in their hands and blood in their eyes. And the rest of us ran. We ran for our lives and left him.
And they killed him. Well, you know the story – crucified on a Roman cross. It’s funny how some people say he didn’t really die. Apparently you have people these days who say that too. You’ve got some crazy magazines here. I picked a couple of them up. This one says that Jesus didn’t really die at all – he just fainted. If you were there, you wouldn’t say that. No one survives a crucifixion. Even Jesus’ enemies certified that he was dead – the centurion who oversaw the crucifixion detail, even old Pilate himself declared him dead, and released his corpse to Joseph, who tightly, suffocatingly wrapped him and put him in a tomb, sealed and guarded by an entire garrison of Roman soldiers.
I didn’t really know what to do after that. I felt discouraged, disillusioned, and guilty. I knew the rest of the guys were meeting together, but I just couldn’t face them. To be honest, I don’t even remember where I was or what I did that weekend.
But I remember that Monday. That’s when they found me, and all the craziness began. They were all smiling, joyful, even laughing. I thought they were drunk, or worse. “We have seen the Lord!” they kept saying over and over. Their story about what had happened to them on that Sunday night seemed crazy to me.
They said that they were meeting in the house, the doors locked, keeping a low profile. We knew that it might not be long before the crowd came looking for us too. They were mulling over the reports given by a few that Jesus’ tomb was empty. Some of the women, a couple of guys from Emmaus, even Peter, thought they had seen Jesus. So they are sitting around talking about all this when supposedly, all of a sudden, Jesus was standing among them, wishing them peace. They were scared out of their wits, thinking they had seen a ghost. Luke, in his book, says they just wouldn’t believe it. But finally, we knew it was Jesus, they said, because he showed us his hands, with the holes in them, from the nails on the cross. And supposedly Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. As the father has sent me, so I send you.”