Summary: This sermon is inspired by the movie beginning on March 20, 2015 by the same title. It uses Thomas and the story of his "doubting" in his faith-believing following Jesus' resurrection. It leaves us with the question, "Do you believe?"
In 2012, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life conducted a survey including White, Black and Hispanic Catholic, Protestant and Non-Denominational Christians. In this survey was the following statement, “I never doubt the existence of God.” Survey results are as follows: 80% agreed with the statement leaving 20% (1 in 5) of which disagreed.
These are people who “belong” to some sort of church affiliation. They attend either a church, Christian fellowship or cathedral. They all support their various ministries financially. But yet one out of every five…doubt.
It’s almost as if their religious institution were asking a very pertinent question, “Do we believe?” and some would actually have to say, “Not really.” What about you? What about me? What is our response? “I agree.” “I disagree.”
“Do you believe?”
Yet, disagreeing with this statement seems almost illogical. After all, anyone who “belongs” to any Christian institution, whether Catholic, Protestant or Non -Denominational; anyone who goes to a church, a Christian fellowship or cathedral would actually have the misfortune of disagreeing that God exists.
The apostle John most likely would have issue with their belief. After all John, in his gospel account is excessive in his emphasis upon faith-believing. He uses the terminology “to believe” twice as often as the other three gospels, collectively.
It is in John’s gospel we find the most widely known passage of all scripture as spoken by the Christ to Nicodemus, John 3:16, reading from THE VOICE: “For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life.” To which Jesus adds: “Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction. No one who believes in Him has to fear condemnation, yet condemnation is already the reality for everyone who refuses to believe because they reject the name of the only Son of God” [John 3:17-18 THE VOICE].
John even records other statements spoken by the Christ concerning “believing” in Him:
“If you believe in Me, the Hebrew Scriptures say that rivers of living water will flow from within you.” [John 7:38 THE VOICE].
“Unless you believe I am who I have said I am, your sins will lead to your death” [John 8:24 THE VOICE].
“I am the resurrection and the source of all life; those who believe in Me will live even in death” [John 11:25 THE VOICE].
So, when John poses the question, “Do you believe?” he isn’t being facetious because he isn’t writing about something he, himself doesn’t believe. After all, he has been right there in the thick of things with Jesus. He has opportunity to hear Jesus teach His words of wisdom. He even experiences first-hand the performance of miracles at the hand of the Christ. He is there in the end as he comforts Jesus’ mother, Mary, as her son, Jesus, hangs upon the cross of Calvary and he is one of the two disciples who race to reach the empty tomb on that first Resurrection Sunday.
John is affirming that having faith in the Risen Savior is the substance of who we are in the Christ. It is impossible to be a Christian if one DOES NOT believe in the existence of an Almigh-ty God who has lovingly sent His Only-Begotten Son to die and shed His precious blood for the sins of all mankind.
If anyone of us here this morning DOES NOT believe – we are promised that we will die in our sins. Remember, this is exactly what Jesus promises. Faith-believing is crucial if you and I are going to declare that we are Christians, followers of the Christ. John believes this in such desperation that throughout all of his writing, he hammers it home.
Within John’s gospel we find a story of DOUBT; the story of Thomas after the death and resurrection of the Christ. Thomas, like John, has been one of the inner-circle of disciples. He, too, has had the same opportunities as those of John – hearing Jesus teach with his own ears and seen the miracles of the Christ with his own eyes. He, too, has walked with the Master, experiencing the love of this special rabbi, no matter what.
As a matter of fact, when Jesus discloses that He is heading toward Jerusalem and when He makes His arrival there that He will be arrested, condemned and killed it is Thomas who voices his personal feelings before the others, saying, “Let’s go so we can die with Him” [John 11:16 THE VOICE].
Later when Jesus unveils to His disciples that His “…Father’s home is designed to accom-modate” all of them and that “If there were not room for everyone…” He would make that known. He then discloses: “I am going to make arrangements for your arrival. I will be there to greet you personally and welcome you home, where we will be together. You know where I am going and how to get there” [John 14:2-4 THE VOICE].