Summary: 12th & final in the series "Conversations With Jesus." Easter Message. What do we need to overcome our doubts about the resurrection?
I don’t usually begin a sermon on a sad note like this, but sometimes we need to pause and remember what life is all about. There was a great loss recently in the entertainment world. Larry LaPrise, the Detroit native who wrote the song "The Hokey Pokey", died at age 83.
I’m told he died peacefully and that he led a full and happy life. Still it was a difficult time for the family and It was especially difficult for to get him in the casket. They put his left leg in and... well, that was when the trouble started.
Well it’s been two thousand years now since they had similar trouble in Jerusalem. A man named Jesus who had been causing trouble for the religous leaders had been executed to silence him. But they couldn’t keep him in the grave either.
But when the news started to spread that Jesus had cheated the grave, not everybody believed it. Down through history the same has been true. Not everyone who hears the story about the one who came back from the other side of death believes it anymore than you believed the story I just told about Larry LaPrise.
Some of you here this morning may still have serious doubts. The question for me is, what would I need to do to help you believe. Or in other words what are the necessary ingredients for Faith in the resurrection?
To answer that question I’d like to go to the story we just read about the first one who had questions about the story so that we can see what helped him come to believe in Jesus’ resurrection.
The first thing he needed was a...
24Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he 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."
Thomas has been reproached across the centuries as a doubter, But I would be among the first to speak up in his behalf. Because I believe that in Thomas’ demand for proof, he is to be admired rather than ridiculed. In fact, Jesus himself said back in Matthew 24:26, "If they say to you, ’There he is!’, don’t believe it." And there are too many people today who believe too much on the basis of too little. I am appalled at how much irrational garbage people are willing to swallow without a particle of solid evidence to back it up. People read horoscopes, lay out Tarot cards, and call 900-numbers to learn their futures. A few will even follow David Koresh to Waco Texas.
Call me a Doubting Thomas, too, if you please. But I’m not about to believe Dionne Warwick, David Koresh, or Chaplain Caley without some proof — some good, solid proof. Too much is at stake for me to accept just any claim someone makes.
On the other hand, I don’t want to be such a radical skeptic that I set standards of proof so high they can never be met. Neither do I want to be so gullible that any sort of alleged proof will count as an actual one. Fair and reasonable standards, however, ought to be imposed on every proof offered for any point of view.
Our proofs for Jesus’ resurrection will obviously not be the same ones Thomas was given. But we need to be reminded that no figure of history — whether Socrates, Julius Caesar,
Abraham Lincoln, or Jesus — is available for immediate sensory experiences through sight, sound, or touch. All of them have to be authenticated to us indirectly through history, archaeology, and documents. Through Testimony.
When held to the strictest standards of historical evidence — standards much higher than the ones applied to the ancient Pharaohs or Alexander the Great or George Washington — we have more testimony about Jesus’ life history, and resurrection from the dead than practically any other event in history. It is on the basis of these many lines of proof — not some blind leap of faith or irrational sentimentality — that I stake my life now and my destiny for all eternity. On the basis of that same evidence, I do not hesitate to invite all others to place your faith in him (Alan Smith, from a Sermon entitled "Faith That doesn’t have to touch" on Sermoncentral.com)
And what testimony is there?
3. The tomb was empty and the grave clothes vacant. if those who opposed Christ wished to silence His disciples, all they had to do was produce a body, but they could not (John 20:3-9).